Joel Schumacher is generally credited with destroying Batman to the point that the series had to be rebooted and grounded in reality because he went so fucking crazy with Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. I am not a fan of Batman & Robin (though I don’t hate it as much as most people do), but I love Batman Forever. I blame nostalgia and the heyday of Jim Carrey for the most part. This movie came out when I was eleven, and I was all in. I watched it multiple times in the theater. “Kiss from a Rose” was easily my favorite song that year. I owned every collectible McDonald's glass from the tie-in. I even played the board game version of the film multiple times with a buddy who was equally obsessed with the film. Removed from that time period, I certainly see why this film is considered just as bad as Batman & Robin, but there’s a lot here I still sincerely enjoy. The romantic subplot is very interesting, the Batman is to blame for all this argument is pretty good, and, most importantly, it’s goofy as hell.
“Holey Rusted Metal, Batman!”
That cheesy in-joke made by Robin in this film could certainly be seen as the beginning of the end for this version of Batman, but I love it because it sets the tone of the film in the same realm of the Batman TV show I grew up watching (reruns, by the way, I’m not that old). That series was definitely tongue-in-cheek and part of me wants to see Batman being a bit goofy. But just like with all the other adaptations of Batman, I was always more interested in the villains than the Caped Crusader himself.
Villains in the old TV show were goofy as shit and seemed to be villains just to fuck with Batman. Sure, Two-Face and Riddler have legitimate issues with Batman and Bruce Wayne, respectively, but they basically exist just to torment him. And they enjoy doing it. I’m all for villains being compelling in modern comic book movies, but I also enjoy a good old-fashioned villain who’s just evil for evil’s sake. Riddler and Two-Face aren’t threatening and aren’t meant to be. It’s all supposed to be fun, and, at least for eleven-year-old me, it is.
Batman Forever isn’t meant to be taken seriously, which is why I enjoy it to this day. I get why people hate it, and I definitely find it to be one of the weakest Batman films, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable. I like watching Jim Carrey go absolutely insane as the Riddler, and I enjoy watching Tommy Lee Jones try to keep up with him even more.
Just like the TV show, Batman Forever was meant to be a bit of fun. The new films can be as serious and award-winning as they want to be, but when I want to shut my brain off and embrace the goofy side of Batman, Batman Forever will be my go-to.
Getting Cock-Blocked by Your Own Alter Ego
Another Batman movie, another love interest. With this iteration of Batman, he was kind of like James Bond in that new ladies showed up in each film and were simply gone by the next one. It was necessary due to casting and plot points, but it led to an interesting subplot for Forever.
Chase Meridian (what a fucking name) is the love interest this time around, but she’s torn between two men: Batman and Bruce Wayne. It’s not the focus of the film, and Chase ends up just kind of deciding to be with Bruce before figuring out he is Bruce Wayne, but it makes for a very interesting element: Bruce Wayne gets cock-blocked by his own alter ego.
Usually, Bruce has to struggle with his secret with his lady friends because he wants to be honest with them. Here, the struggle is, “Should I just tell her I’m Batman so I can get laid?” (Hilariously, at one point in the film Bruce decides to quit being Batman, and part of the reason has to be so he can pursue Chase without the distraction of Batman.) It makes for some funny moments throughout the film. And it also makes you wonder: where did Chase think her pursuit of Batman was going to lead? Would he keep the mask on when they had sex? Would she have to use the Bat Signal every time she wanted to hook up? Could she handle him constantly blowing off dates to fight disfigured and crazed villains? Like most of the film, it hasn’t been seriously considered, which is why I find it so funny.
Finally, a Reluctant Hero I Agree With
A common element in comic book movies that I cannot stand is the reluctant hero. Wolverine and Hulk come to mind as two guys with superpowers who just want to be left alone, but it seems to happen to nearly every character at some point. They want a regular life, or they lost someone, or they lose faith in humanity, or, in Batman’s case, they think everything is all their fault. Almost always they end up continuing to fight the good fight, and they learn they were right all along. They are the good guy, and they must always fight the bad guy for the sake of humanity. I find it to be an overused plot device, and it’s boring because we all know the hero is going to keep being a hero. But with Batman Forever, I feel differently. It really is all Batman’s fault.
It’s a common theme in the Batman mythology that Batman is just as crazy as his villains and/or they only exist because Batman is there. With Forever, the latter is definitely the case. Two-Face blames Batman for the attack that led to his new name. And the Riddler hates Bruce Wayne for not embracing his dangerous new technology. Batman realizes this and does decide to call it quits, but he jumps the gun a bit.
I’m all for this Batman giving up the crime-fighting because the two main villains feel the need to escalate their insanity to match Batman’s. Two-Face wrongfully blames Batman for the attack in the courtroom that led to his disfigurement, but perhaps he would have just been bitter for a while after the attack had he not had to witness Batman showing up all the time as Gotham’s savior. Eventually, he was bound to think, “Fuck this guy!”
The Riddler was just pissed off with Bruce Wayne and seemed generally happy just to get back at him by being successful. But when he finds out Bruce is Batman he goes even crazier. Not to mention, he wouldn’t have become a villain without Two-Face’s existence, so it’s Batman’s fault too.
So Batman should stop, but not while two maniacs are still running around terrorizing a city. He wants to just quit (and get with Chase, which might actually be his main motivator here) while both villains are at large. I get why he wants to quit, but he also needs to clean up the mess he created first. Not to mention, he’s cock-blocking (did not intend to use “cock-blocking” more than once in this article, but if the shoe fits…) Robin’s revenge plans. It’s okay for Batman to get revenge by killing the Joker, but when Robin wants to do the same thing, it’s “You don’t want this, man!” (And to top it off, Batman kills Two-Face right in front of Robin. What a dick!)
Robin should be a lot more pissed off for a lot more of this film’s running time. Yeah, he blames Batman for his family’s death, but he gets over it pretty quickly. Hell, he has more of a right to become a villain than Two-Face does. Instead, Robin wants to do what Batman does. Hey Robin, here’s hoping you get someone’s family murdered some day too!
Batman obviously doesn’t stick with the retirement plan as his hand is forced by the villains he created. So he has to finish the job. Okay, so once he’s done the Two-Face and Riddler he can quit, right? No! Somehow the events of the movie have reaffirmed his resolve to be Batman. He feels more needed than ever! Why? Because he has made peace with his parents’ death (again)? All the more reason to stop dressing up like a fucking bat and inspiring psychopaths to meet your level, Bruce.
I knew he wasn’t going to really quit, of course. After all, the movie is Batman Forever, not Batman Until He Gets over His Parents’ Deaths and Takes Care of Two-Face and Riddler and Also Gets with Chase Meridian. But this is the first time I’ve watched a reluctant hero and thought, “Yeah, you do need to quit this shit.” And if he had quit at the end, it could have ended the franchise for a bit. Instead, Batman deciding to keep fighting crime led to Batman & Robin. I think we can all agree Forever should have been the end.
Why Do I Own This?
This was a pivotal movie for me in my childhood, so I like having it to revisit from time to time to see if I still like it as much as I used to. I still like it for all its goofiness, but I will admit that I'm not nearly as into it as I used to be. But how could I be? I was playing-the-board-game and playing-Kiss-from-a-Rose-on-the-jukebox-every-chance-I-got into this movie when it came out.
Nicole Kidman took a "whispering is sexy" acting class before taking this role.
So Batman was just hanging out in the courtroom in costume when Harvey Dent was attacked?
This is what I miss about Batman movies these days: villain goofiness. Sure, they kill people and have motives, but they also enjoy stupid ass theatrics. I know the Joker was goofy a bit in The Dark Knight, but he was nowhere near as silly as Nicholson's Joker, and he's not even on the same radar as Two-Face and Riddler in this one.
Thomas and Martha Wayne's murder has to be the most flash backed moment in cinema history.
Does Two-Face really eat raw donkey meat?
"Hey, Two-Face! Show me how to punch a guy!"
Robin doing extreme laundry is possibly the dumbest part of the franchise, and that's saying something.
This movie predicted how stupid 3D TVs would be.
It also predicted how we would willingly give up most of our personal information in the name of entertainment and/or distraction.
You have to appreciate a gang that makes good use of black light and glow sticks. They like to party...and rape.
When Batman shows up at Nygma's party, some fucking dildo yells out, "Batman! Yeah!"
I get that losing his parents has defined his life, but how is Bruce not coping with it better by the third film?
I just like how fucking giddy Two-Face and Riddler are to be evil.
God help me, but I like the "Holey rusted metal, Batman!" joke.
Tommy Lee Jones basically just makes a series of strange grunts and moans throughout the movie. It's a...strange performance. In his defense, he was going up against personification-of-cocaine Jim Carrey.
Why does destroying the green light thing make everything blow up? And how did Batman know that would work? It's just lazy.
And taking out Two-Face by throwing a few extra coins? They really phoned it in figuring out how to take out the villains with this one.
"Why can't I kill you?" What are you talking about? You stopped Two-Face from killing him two scenes earlier. Unless the question is more about why he couldn't let Two-Face kill him, then that's kind of interesting. Touché, Batman Forever.