Welcome back to Film Studies with Michael,
I am your host – Michael There are few films that possess the sheer
animosity to a central concept like Batman & Robin does. It is reviled. It is 21 years
old, in fact. Blackjack. Be it the writing, the acting, the nipples, the character design,
the tone, the nipples, the Clooney, the directing, the set design, the nipples, and just however
the hell we canonically, same-universally got from this to this. [Robin] “It’s the hockey team from hell!” Because, yes, these are all the same connected
series and universe, just simultaneously evolving in tone so dramatically that whiplash is now
but a flesh wound from a fruit fly. But what if we had it all wrong? What if Batman
& Robin wasn’t a movie at all? What if it was many omens? Let’s talk about Batman & Robin. George
Clooney’s 47th best movie – sorry, Return of the Killer Tomatos, and we are coming for
you, Rumor Has It. To describe the tone of it cleanly, would be impossible. To describe
the tone of it with chaotic, incongruent descriptors would be apt, if not at least a little without
merit considering the effort involved. So, I’m not really even gonna try. Batman & Robin
is guano, baby. It’s batshit. Batman & Robin was a 1997 uh, sure I’ll go with the term “film”, directed by Joel
Shumacher (who I will remind you directed Falling Down just two years before this where
he was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes,) and written by Akiva Goldsman who won an Oscar
for A Beautiful Mind six years after B & R in 2001. Movies are not made in a vacuum. Oh, no. There were many factors that have led us here today, I’m going to illustrate
what happens by illustrating what kind of a production it was. To remember Batman & Robin as it should be, as guano, baby. Hang on tight, this is gonna go fast.
The cigars Arnold is smoking in this movie, are real cigars—Cuban, in fact—and brought
to set for him by none other than his friend Jon Bon Jovi. Yeah, this is gonna get a little
weird. I think that fact is fairly widely known,
or reported and follow me down the rabbit hole. Arnold was paid 25,000,000 dollars for
this movie, and a lot of reporting kinda went after him for it—and that’s not entirely
unfair considering the result, but his top of the heap paycheck for this movie is only
half of what Jack Nicholson was paid for the original film, or 50,000,000 smackaroonos.
Want more depressing Batman facts? Sure you do. Hell, Michael Keaton only got 11 million
dollars for reprising his rolein Batman Returns; and the shit of it is they only paid Michelle Pfeiffer 3 million
dollars for what I think is the only truly iconic role in the bunch. And she had that
leverage only because it was a last minute recast because Annette Benning had to leave
the production. Also, Annette’s paycheck was only gonna be one million. Pfeiffer used that last minute fact that the studio was totally screwed without a Catwoman, to get 3 million. Yup.
But back to the main point now that I’ve dropped us down the sludgedungler of depressing
paycheck movie facts, is that obviously it’s probably not super cool to just insist that
you be allowed to smoke your Bon Jovi cigars in what is clearly meant to be an enclosed,
hermetically sealed space for a body under contamination precautions, which then would
mean requiring the art department to hastily paint Bon Jovi’s Cubans as white “ice
cigars”, or whatever – and kind of abandon having the suit really mean anything – oh
you’re just gonna smoke in a – in a bathrobe.? O-okay. Sure, he’s a villain based on a really good backstory from the tv show but kinda jettisoned – with his real interests, outside of saving
his wife being cigars and puns. [Mr. Freeze] “I hate when people talk during
the movie.” That’s that kind of shit that people get
blacklisted. That’s the kind of shit that ends your career. Insisting your character
be allowed to smoke cigars brought to you by someone who wants you dead or alive. I
mean, what? But he wasn’t blacklisted, not even close. in fact, it didn’t really seem to be like that big of a deal. To anyone. So, here’s the chaser. To get that hot Smurf mouth effect on screen, Arnold had a bunch of tiny LEDs in his cheeks
that were … well, they were hastily assembled. The extra saliva in his mouth, no doubt due
to wearing 75 pounds of metal husband costume, caused the coating on them to melt away and
short out in his mouth, not only leaking battery acid all over his teeth and gums, but that
had to be repeated throughout the entire production as the LEDs failed one by one. And that happened constantly. The LEDs should have been in his mouth for the entire production But you can see that it’s only random scenes. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that he was in those blue ass contacts all day
that sucked the moisture out of his eyes so bad that Arnold just appears bloodshot the
entire movie. This production really messed him up. And suddenly, I don’t care how bad his lines are because it turns each and every one of
them into a f***ing miracle. [Mr. Freeze] “If I must suffer, then humanity
will suffer with me!” They consistently leaked battery acid into
his mouth while suctioning the moisture out of his eyes for 12 hours at a time, as if
that was a reasonable expectation or frankly even something to allow your actor to do.
I mean, at that point the least you can do is rewrite the character to allow him to smoke
his Bon Jovi cigars. God, the fact that this movie even exists
is a miracle. I just think this is kind of interesting:
Batman & Robin is one of only three films in history to feature two US Governors in
it: Schwarzenegger and Jesse Venture, yeah, he’s really in it for a hot second as “Arkham
Asylum Guard.” The only other two films, by the way, that also feature two US governors
are Predator and The Running Man. THAT’S AN OMEN Facts are weird! I have to describe the tone? That’s gonna to be impossible… *sigh* Okay The tone in Batman & Robin is a 100% accidental
shot in the dark, breathed to life by relentless studio, actor, and producer notes, throwing
back to Adam West era Batman through the lens 90’s extreme Todd McFarlan ass designs. In a word, it’s perfect. Batman has a bat credit card? [Batman] “Never leave the cave without it.” This asks a lot of questions. Oh, you thought The Room was funny for making every wrong decision, welcome to the Major Leagues of… Out of context, Batman & Robin’s tone makes
Superman IV’s seem down right reasonable. [Batman] “This is why Superman works alone.” I think Batman Forever got away with a lot. “Oh no! It’s boiling acid!” Somehow we accepted that as tonally in the same zip code as Batman and Batman Returns, partly because Jim Carrey was the hottest performer on the planet at that moment, and partly because
… I mean okay, I was 12 I didn’t get why it was weird to suddenly throw most of the way back to the 1960’s tv show. They were basically told lean in to every worst
instinct they had. And then they did. Can you even imagine what would have happened
if the third Batman movie in the Chris Nolan trilogy was suddenly directed by Paul Verhoven?
Tim Burton was followed up by Joel Schumacher. Exactly what that sounds like would happen,
happened. It’s incredible. This movie has deadly decisions at practically every level.
Why is Poison Ivy wearing drag make up? Who knows?! I’ve fallen so far into the Batman
& Robin rabbit hole that I just respect it at every conceivable level because you couldn’t
repeat this disaster if you wanted to. Oh, Mr. Freeze needs tons of diamonds as fuel to make cold stuff cold? Driving on arms? Wait, what? Okay. Driving on arms.
This is a film where the narrative time is spent on Batman worrying that Robin isn’t
ready to take the necessary risks yet. But drivin’ on arms.
George Clooney plays every scene as if Bruce Wayne believes that lesser humans should not
even share his air. If someone else is talking, he’s like, “pffft what is this noise?”
(George, what are you doing?) I appreciate when you can dig into a film
and get something else out of it. The more you can do that, the more value a film has
to me. Good or bad. Batman & Robin is Spelunky. I adore this movie. It never stops delivering.
This particular garbage inferno will never happen again. That’s like 57 more omens. That’s too many omens. This is an impossible franchise to speak with any finality about. It was a connected series,
kept in continuity by Alfred and Commissioner Gordon being played by the same actors in
all four films and carrying plotlines between them. But we’re here today to celebrate
the life and subsequent passing of the Burton Schumacher franchise. But we’re gathered to remember Batman & Robin. This is a film of many Omens. Bright, flashing
emergency lights in the road beckoning one to alter course lest they join them in the
afterlife. But they steadied on to franchise heaven unabated.
I come before you today, paying homage to the deceased with candor, respect, and joy.
How could I celebrate the deceased without seeing it in the proper context of its franchise?
Batman Returns had a rocky as hell release. It made 266 million, which at the time was
gangbusters, but parent’s groups went fruity pebbles over this thing. Batman kills a lot
of people. Everything is strange and gross and weird and there are numerous reports of
children leaving the theater traumatized and bawling. Catwoman rules but what am we even supposed to take away from that movie? It was problematic enough that despite making a lot of money, it was time to move on from Tim Burton to Joel Schumacher. That’s a sentence that exists. Burton was actually pitching a third film to the studio and realized mid-pitch that they didn’t want him to make anymore. Marlon Wayans was signed to play Robin as far back as Returns and he actually got a lot of residual checks as a result of that
contract despite never being in a Batman movie. Robin Williams was super interested in playing The Riddler and they wrote the script with that in mind. And Billy Dee was
finally going to become Two Face. So … Burton’s third film was, on paper, pretty much what
Schumacher made in Forever. On paper. Not in tone. And I like that Joel Schumacher was the only live action Batman director to make a movie
with kids in mind first. To me, that’s worth something and makes sense up to a point. I mean, it absolutely devastated audiences, but I respect where his head was at. I see
what they were trying to do based on the lessons learned from Batman Forever.
In modern cinema, the Batman franchise has lived and died three times (assuming Batfleck is actually gone). The secret of a Batman franchise is solo films, and by proxy toys.
That’s why everyone has their own vehicle. Good and bad. The studio was less interested in films after the original Batman and they were way, way more interested in merchandising and toys. And in my opinion. There is no one. No one, in comics with a rogues gallery
as deep as Batman’s. That’s why the villains always made substantially more money than
the person playing Batman at the time. In B&R, Swartzenegger
is given top billing above Batman. And Batman as a franchise survived all of
this with flying colors. That’s how forgiving that brand is. The Phantom, not so much. It
went quiet for a bit and then returned with the third highest grossing trilogy of all
time, behind Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. All things being honest, I think this movie is so bad, it’s good. Once you know why this rickety drawbridge
of heinous decisions was made, it’s pretty suddenly the most watchable comedy you’ll see this year. Like, there’s a ridiculous reason for why stuff happened.
You know what’s amazing? Here’s a big statement. I think Arnold tries to actually do something here as an actor that he has never tried before. It’s incredible to watch.
Arnold goes for it, while swallowing battery acid. I mean, none of it works in the traditional
sense but it is so damn entertaining and …weird. He fully embraces the 1960s zany. You will
not find a more ridiculous Arnold performance. Batman & Robin is my The Room. I can’t believe
any of this happened. I think it’s important we remember movies like this. Enjoy them for
what they are. Not adjusted for inflation, Batman Forever still made 10 million dollars
more worldwide than Lego Batman. But if we are gonna adjust for inflation, Batman
Forever is the 4th highest grossing Batman movie ever made.
I choose to remember Batman & Robin anyway, omens and all. Because it’s guano, baby!
Grab some friends. I think you’ll enjoy it. Just embrace the madness.