For Batman fans, one film above all others pulls the Bat-image way down: Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin. The followup to Schumacher’s family friendly Batman Forever successfully put a stop to the Batman Renaissance Hollywood had been enjoying since Tim Burton gave it new life in 1989’s Batman. In years past, Schumacher has taken credit for sucking the life out of the franchise with his 1997 film, but — in a recent interview with Vice — he straight up apologized for its existence.
“Look, I apologize,” he said. “I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that.”
With Batman and Robin, Schumacher turned Gotham into a ’90s rave complete with neon set-pieces, nipples on the Batsuit and a Poison Ivy love potion gone wrong. For his sins, Schumacher paid the price in Hollywood and among fans. “And then after Batman & Robin, I was scum. It was like I had murdered a baby,” he continued.
One thing he doesn’t apologize for, though, was introducing those nipples to the superheroes outfits. He had no idea they would become a major talking point around his two Batman movies. He explains his lack of foresight, saying, “You know what? I really never thought that would happen. I really didn’t. Maybe I was just naive, but I’m still glad we did it.”
It turns out that, despite the mixed reception and its less than ideal box office returns, Schumacher had been set to make a third Batman film. “My job is always about moving on. In fact, I was set to do another Batman. I even met with Nicolas Cage on the set of Face Off because I was going to have him play the Scarecrow. Frankly, I was running out of villains.”
Luckily, he took a vacation and realized the pressure of the summer tentpole film wasn’t worth it to him. In his next film, 8MM, he ended up working with Cage anyways and got back to the story-driven films he’s built a career on.
Within eight years, Chris Nolan would bring audiences back to a more grounded and brooding bat with Batman Begins, though Schumacher’s misstep continues to live in that category reserved for film franchises that ran away with themselves. Still, an apology never hurts.