Though some will argue that the divisive Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice has given it some stiff competition, it’s long been almost universally agreed upon among Batman fans, critics and moviegoers in general that Batman & Robin is the absolute worst of the Batman movies. It’s a busy, terribly written mess of a movie filled with bizarre design choices and cynical attempts to pander to kids for the purpose of selling toys. Some people have come to enjoy it as a fascinating “so bad its good” train wreck. Others still fall into fits of nerd-rage at the very acknowledgment of its existence.
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The movie killed the Batman movie franchise for eight years before Batman Begins revitalized it. But did it kill the careers of its cast and crew? Thankfully, for the most part, the stars of Batman & Robin have gone on to do much better things. Most of them can laugh about their big 1997 flop in retrospect. Some people involved have gone so far as to apologize for inflicting it upon us. If you’ve been wondering what the talent behind this infamous motion picture have been up to in the past 20 years, read on through this list. LET’S KICK SOME ICE!
15. GEORGE CLOONEY (BATMAN)
When Batman & Robin was released, people only knew George Clooney as “that guy from ER” or maybe “that guy in From Dusk ‘Til Dawn.” Today, he’s one of the most successful actors in Hollywood. He’s starred in films ranging from O Brother, Where Art Thou? to Oceans Eleven to Gravity. He won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Syriana in 2005, the same year he was nominated for Best Director for Good Night and Good Luck. He’s also known for his humanitarian work, mainly focused on the war in Darfur.
So what does this Hollywood big-shot think of his stint as the Caped Crusader? He’s apologized for the film, and stated “I thought at the time that this was going to be a very good career move. Ummmmm, it wasn’t.” A bad career move, perhaps, but one that hasn’t stopped his from skyrocketing.
14. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (MR. FREEZE)
Ah-nold’s the most entertaining part of Batman & Robin, his bizarre deliveries of terrible ice puns as memorable as any of his classic cheesy one-liners. By the turn of the millennium, however, his stardom was fading. Nobody remembers End of Days or The 6th Day the way they do Commando or Kindergarten Cop, and the Terminator franchise was running out of steam by the third movie. So what’s an actor past his prime to do? Go into politics!
“Governator” jokes abounded when Arnold ran for governor of California in 2003. A moderate Republican, he served two terms before returning to acting in 2011. The same year, it was revealed he had a child out of wedlock, a scandal which killed plans for a Stan Lee-produced Governator cartoon. In 2017, he hosted The New Celebrity Apprentice, but quit after one season to avoid association with that show’s controversial executive producer.
13. CHRIS O’DONNELL (ROBIN)
Chris O’Donnell, who first played Robin in Batman Forever, has had a career of ups and downs. Before Batman & Robin, he’d already received one Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Scent of a Woman… and one Razzie nomination for Worst Supporting Actor for The Three Musketeers! Earning two additional Razzie nominations for Batman & Robin (for Worst Supporting Actor and Worst Screen Couple alonside Clooney), O’Donnell’s movie career continued with inconsistency.
O’Donnell was in the acclaimed biopic Kinsey, and also less well-regarded films like Max Payne and Cats and Dogs 2: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. He hasn’t appeared in a feature film since 2010, but has found success on the small screen as G. Callen, the main character of NCIS: Los Angeles. Showing a sense of humor about himself (you’d need one to survive Batman & Robin), he also played Callen on an episode of American Dad.
12. ALICIA SILVERSTONE (BATGIRL)
Before Batman & Robin, Alicia Silverstone was one of Hollywood’s up-and-coming teen stars in films such as Clueless and The Crush. After Batman & Robin, she was no longer a teen, and not exactly a star either. She’s continued acting in movies, TV and theatre, but in smaller projects. Her most recognized post-Batgirl role was probably the voice of Sharon Spitz in the cartoon Braceface, which she also executive produced.
Silverstone’s biggest claim to fame in the past two decades has been her animal rights and environmental activism. PETA declared her the world’s “Sexiest Female Vegetarian” in 2004, and she’s posed nude in multiple advertisements for the controversial organization. She’s written two best-selling vegan cookbooks and runs a sanctuary for rescued pets in Los Angeles.
11. UMA THURMAN (POISON IVY)
Uma Thurman’s consistently great when offered the right roles but doesn’t get offered them enough. Batman & Robin wasn’t her only movie to flop at the box office in the late ’90s. Some of these flops were actually good movies, but for every Gattaca there was a The Avengers (the 1998 adaptation of the old British TV spy show, not the Marvel blockbuster), which earned her Razzie nominations.
The director who’s always given her the best parts, Quentin Tarantino, cast her as the star of Kill Bill. Unfortunately that instant classic performance didn’t translate into many more big job offers, though Thurman has given acclaimed supporting performances since in The Producers, Nymphomaniac, and the TV show Smash. She’s also returned to superhero cinema, though not in the most impressive manner: she starred in the romcom My Super Ex-Girlfriend and was “Lois Lane” in the much-loathed comedy Movie 43.
10. MICHAEL GOUGH (ALFRED)
One of the few actors to have been part of the Batman movie series since the 1989 Tim Burton film, Michael Gough was 80 years old when Batman & Robin hit theaters. The British character actor had already enjoyed a long career, having been in movies since 1948 and part of the regular stable of actors in the Hammer horror films. Having played Alfred Pennyworth for the last time, what was Gough to do next?
His answer was to retire. Sleepy Hollow was to be his last film, and it was the last time he physically appeared on screen. Burton, however, was able to coax him out of his retirement to do voice acting for The Corpse Bride and Alice in Wonderland. Before Gough’s death in 2011, he also, for some reason, voiced the Scarecrow in Tom and Jerry: The Wizard of Oz.
9. PAT HINGLE (GORDON)
Like Hough, Pat Hingle was also a holdover from the Burton Batman cast who stuck around for the Schumacher installments. He was also an aging, well established actor. His first film role was as the bartender in On the Waterfront in 1954. He was in the original Broadway casts of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and J.B. and starred in multiple films by his friend Clint Eastwood. Unlike Gough, he had no intention to retire.
Hingle died of blood cancer in 2009 at the age of 84. Until his death, he kept appearing in films such as Shaft, Muppets from Space, and most prominently as Larry Dennit Sr. in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. He’d reprise his role as Commissioner Gordon in a series of six Batman-themed commercials for OnStar from 2000 to 2002.
8. ROBERT “JEEP” SWENSON (BANE)
Sadly, the wrestler, boxer, and stuntman Robert “Jeep” Swenson, who had his most prominent acting role as Bane in Batman & Robin, did not go on to enjoy a lengthy career. On August 18th, 1997, just two months after the Batman & Robin‘s release date, the 6’5,” 405 pound athlete, who at one point claimed to have the world’s biggest biceps, died of heart failure.
Swenson was only 40 years old at the time of his death. Actor James Caan, wrestler Davey Boy Smith, and Hulk Hogan, who had fought Swenson in a World Championship Wrestling Uncensored pay-per-view match in 1996, gave the eulogies at the funeral. The character of Bane would return to the big screen 15 years later in The Dark Knight Rises, with a very different take by Tom Hardy.
7. ELLE MACPHERSON (JULIE MADISON)
Like a lot of things in Batman & Robin, the romance between Bruce Wayne and Julie Robinson is just there, another plot point in a movie packed with too many, and certainly less interesting or memorable than the implied homoerotic undertones between the title characters. Elle Macpherson’s primary career is as a model rather than an actor, but she’s had more successful acting gigs both before and after Batman & Robin.
Macpherson had a notable reoccurring role as Janine, Joey’s roommate, in the 1999-2000 season of the sitcom Friends. She’s done a lot of reality TV hosting, having hosted Britain’s Top Model from 2010-2013, the American series Fashion Star from 2012-2016, and Australia’s Next Top Model in 2016. She also does charity work with RED, UNICEF and the Smile Foundation among other groups.
6. VIVICA A. FOX (MS. B. HAVEN)
Ah, Ms. B. Haven. Everyone’s favorite Batman character: a woman with a pun for a name and a kitschy mess of a costume, who’s supposedly Mr. Freeze’s assistant but her job’s never really clear. She hits on her boss in one scene and then never again!
Ms. B. Haven is such a minuscule, unimportant part that thankfully no one thinks of it when thinking about actress Vivica A. Fox. They’re more likely to remember her role in the sleeper hit Soul Food that same summer, her reunion with Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Volume 1, her recurring role on Curb Your Enthusiasm, or reprising her Independence Day part in Resurgence. For those who prefer her performances to be schlockier, she was also in Sharknado 2!
5. VENDELA KIRSEBOM (NORA FRIES)
The role of Nora Fries involves being cryogenically frozen and literally nothing else. It’s not a part that calls for an expert thespian, and Vendela Kirsebom has shown little interest in acting before or after Batman & Robin. Her only part not playing herself since was as a bridal gown model in the 1998 Parent Trap remake. Her real career is in modelling and as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
Like Macpherson, Kirsebom has also served as a host for one of the Top Model shows, in her case the 2006-2008 seasons of the Norwegian edition and the 2007 cycle of the Swedish version. What is it with Top Model and Batman and Robin? Perhaps prolonged exposure to the Dynamic Duo’s lovingly sculpted “bottom” armor really makes you want to be “on top…”
4. JESSE VENTURA (ARKHAM ASYLUM GUARD)
Here’s someone you might have forgotten about appearing in Batman & Robin. But considering who else was in this movie’s cast, it just seems to make sense that Jesse Ventura would be part of it, doesn’t it? Like Swenson, he was much more experienced as a wrestler than as an actor. And like Schwarzenegger, his appearances in the news post-Batman & Robin would be mainly focused on his politics.
Ventura had already entered the political arena serving as Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota from 1991-1995. In 1998, he surprisingly won the state’s gubernatorial election as part of the Reform Party. He switched to the Independence Party in 2000 and continued serving as governor until 2003. His politics have been fringe and controversial; notably he’s promoted conspiracy theories about 9/11. He now works for Russian state media.
3. PETER MACGREGOR-SCOTT (PRODUCER)
Mostly, Batman & Robin doesn’t seem to have hurt the careers of its stars. Its producer, on the other hand, is a different story. Peter MacGregor-Scott worked as a production manager, an assistant director and a producer for numerous films from the 1970s through the ’90s. He worked on Animal House, The Jerk, Revenge of the Nerds, The Fugitive and various Cheech and Chong productions.
Since Batman & Robin, however, he only produced three more features. A Perfect Murder did decent box office numbers and got mixed reviews, but Death to Smoochy and The Guardian were massive money-losing bombs. We’ll forever be grateful to MacGregor-Scott for some of his older hits, but unfortunately some producers just seem to lose their touch with audiences over the years.
2. JOEL SCHUMACHER (DIRECTOR)
Like Clooney, Joel Schumacher has also apologized for Batman & Robin. His 2005 DVD audio commentary already involved much criticism of the film, taking personal blame for some of the film’s faults while blaming others on overbearing executive interfernece. In a 2017 VICE interview, he stated “I want to apologize to every fan that was dissapointed, because I think I owe them that.”
Schumacher’s continued to make movies. A couple of them, the war drama Tigerland and the thriller Phone Booth, have recieved good reviews. Most of his films, however, have been panned. His Phantom of the Opera movie is almost as loathed among Broadway fan circles as Batman & Robin is among comic fans. His most successful work has actually been on Netflix, directing episodes of House of Cards.
1. AKIVA GOLDSMAN (SCREENWRITER)
In 1997, you’d be sent to Arkham yourself if you claimed the screenwriter of Batman & Robin would win an Oscar for Best Screenplay. But you’d be right! Five years later, Akiva Goldsman would be winning the little gold man for A Beautiful Mind. Was this sudden upturn in the quality of his writing going to stick? Turns out… not entirely.
Goldsman also wrote Cinderella Man and worked on the first season of Fringe, but his resume gets extremely questionable after that. There’s I, Robot and I Am Legend, two average films that nevertheless fail at adapting far more interesting source material. Then there’s the mediocre Da Vinci Code series, and then his baffling directorial debut Winter’s Tale, a mess of Batman & Robin proportions featuring Will Smith as Satan. His 2017 credits include such terribly reviewed films as Rings, Transformers: The Last Knight, and The Dark Tower.
Did we leave anyone out? Let us know what you know about the Batman & Robin cast in the comments!
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