Two decades after the cinematic car crash that was Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin, star George Clooney reveals the 1997 film was the single biggest factor in shaping his acting career.
Making the jump from his breakout role on ER to films like From Dusk till Dawn, Clooney appeared poised to move to the next level with Batman & Robin. But instead the movie brought the blockbuster franchise to a screeching halt following its overwhelmingly negative reception, and is remembered primarily for the rubber nipples on the Dynamic Duo's costumes, and for Arnold Schwarzenegger's groan-inducing pun as Mister Freeze. Although Schumacher and Clooney have each apologized for the film, the actor now credits it with contributing to his learning curve.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Clooney reflected on his time in the cape and cowl in good spirits. When asked which movie had the biggest influence on his craft, he responded, "It’s really easy to pick: Batman & Robin. That’s not a joke." Explaining why the box office bomb became such a lightbulb moment, he continued, "Up until that moment, I was an actor only concerned with finding work. After the failure of that film creatively, I understood that I needed to take control of the films I made, not just the role. My next three films were Out of Sight, Three Kings and O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
Schumacher was originally scheduled to return for a third movie, but the panning of Batman & Robin left a Riddler-esque question mark over the future of the franchise. Laden with rubber nipples and poorly timed ice puns, Batman & Robin effectively killed off the Dark Knight's cinematic journey until Christopher Nolan rebooted in 2005 with Batman Begins.
Failing to live up to the hype of the Tim Burton years, Schumacher's campy style that had already been witnessed in Batman Forever was turned into a merchandising machine by Warner Bros. for Batman & Robin. With each side blaming the other, at least Clooney is willing to look back on the movie with a different perspective. With a new era of Batman in the DC Extended Universe, the brooding Batfleck of the character couldn't be further from the neon-clad Schumacher years — but whether that's an improvement is a matter of personal taste.