This article is about the 1997 film, for the 1949 Serial, see Batman and Robin.
|Batman & Robin|
|Directed by:||Joel Schumacher|
|Produced by:||Peter MacGregor-Scott|
|Written by:|| Characters:|
Bill Finger (uncredited)
|Music by:||Elliot Goldenthal|
|Release Date:||June 20, 1997|
|Previous Film:||Batman Forever|
|Next Film:||Batman Begins (different franchise)|
- "Strength now. Courage always. Family above all."
- ―The film's trailer[src]
Batman & Robin is the fourth and final installment in the comic book-inspired film series initiated by Tim Burton and the second directed by Joel Schumacher. Released in 1997, it starred George Clooney replacing Val Kilmer as Batman with Chris O'Donnell returning as Robin and introduced Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone), a niece of Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Gough).
The antagonists in this movie are Mr. Freeze, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger (who received top billing for this film), Poison Ivy, played by Uma Thurman, as well as Bane, played by Jeep Swenson. Unlike the previous three films, Tim Burton had no involvement with Batman & Robin whatsoever.
New troubles have arisen in Gotham City. First, there's a new supercriminal in town: Mr. Freeze, a former doctor who wields a Freezing Gun and wears a Life-sustaining Cryogenic Suit, causing him to be cold in look and feeling who plans to freeze Gotham until he gets the money needed to finish finding the cure for a mysterious disease that has stricken Nora, his beloved wife.
Second, Poison Ivy, a part-woman, part-plant villainess with luscious lips full of venom, has arrived in Gotham with her hulking bodyguard, Bane, with plans to team up with Freeze and prepare the way for genetically enhanced plants. Third, Ivy has caused a rift between the partnership of the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder. And finally, Alfred, Batman's trusted butler, has developed the same disease that Freeze's wife has. It is in this time of need that a new partner, Batgirl, steps forward to help the two rid the city of evil once more.
The film begins with Batman and Robin stopping Mr. Freeze from attempting to steal a valuable diamond from the local museum, but he escapes after freezing Robin, taking the diamond with him. Meanwhile, In South America, Dr. Pamela Isley is working under Dr. Jason Woodrue, experimenting with the Venom drug. She then witnesses Woodrue use the formula to turn Antonio Diego, a diminutive serial convict, into a hulking monstrosity dubbed "Bane". Woodrue and Isley argue over the use of the drug and Woodrue "kills" her by pushing her backwards into a bench of various steroids and toxins.
Her remains then seemingly melt into the ground. Shortly afterwards, she rises from the wreckage and transforms into the beautiful and seductive Poison Ivy in front of Woodrue, before killing him with a poisonous kiss. She finds that Wayne Enterprises funded Woodrue. So she takes Bane with her to Gotham City, in order for him to act as her personal bodyguard. Meanwhile, Alfred's niece, Barbara Wilson, makes a surprise visit and is invited by Bruce Wayne to stay at Wayne Manor until she goes back to school.
Meanwhile, it is revealed that Mr. Freeze's wife was stricken with a mysterious disease, MacGregor's Syndrome, which he is trying to find a cure for. Alfred also becomes stricken with the first stage of MacGregor's Syndrome and is dying.
Wayne Enterprises presents a new telescope to the Gotham Observatory at a press conference, but is interrupted by Isley. She proposes a project that could help the environment, but Bruce declines her offer, as it would kill millions of people.
That night, a charity event is held by Wayne Enterprises (to lure Freeze out) with special guests, Batman and Robin. Ivy decides to use her abilities to seduce them. Freeze crashes the party and attempts to steal a diamond from the event. However, he is captured and sent to a chamber prison in Arkham Asylum, but escapes with the help of Ivy and Bane.
Batman and Robin begin to have crime fighting relationship problems because of the presence of Ivy's seductive ability with Robin. Ivy is then able to contact Robin once more, using a modified Batsignal, but fails to seduce him. Robin becomes trapped, but rescued by Batman. Meanwhile, Batgirl arrives and fights Ivy, eventually beating her by trapping her in her own plants. In the meantime, while Freeze and Bane flee, Batgirl reveals that she is Barbara and knows the location of the Batcave.
Batman, Robin and Batgirl decide to go after Freeze and Bane together. By the time they get to the observatory where Freeze and Bane are, Gotham is completely frozen. Robin and Batgirl confront Bane and defeat him after they manage to pull out Bane's main Venom supply tube, causing him massive withdrawal and returning him back to his original state.
Meanwhile Batman and Freeze begin to fight each other, with Batman winning in a cliffhanger battle: Freeze tries to kill Batman by destroying the telescope platform but only succeeds in crushing the weakened Bane. Batgirl and Robin unfreeze Gotham and Batman shows Freeze a recording of Ivy revealing that she killed Nora, during her fight with Batgirl.
Batman & Robin
Freeze learns that Ivy has betrayed him over the death of his wife. Ivy blamed Batman for Nora's death, but she informs Batgirl that it was her idea. Freeze is angered by the betrayal and is informed by Batman that his wife is not dead: she is restored in cryogenic slumber and will be moved to Arkham waiting for him to finish his research. Batman proceeds to ask Freeze for the cure he has created for the first stage of MacGregor's Syndrome. He claims that anyone can take a life and that was not power, but to be able to preserve life was true power, power Freeze once had as a doctor. Freeze atones for his misunderstanding by giving him the experimental medicine he had developed.
Later, a depressed and disheveled Poison Ivy is shown imprisoned in the cold beam in Arkham when Freeze walks in and announces he will make her life a living hell of winter for trying to kill his wife and deceiving him. Alfred is given Freeze's cure and eventually healed and everyone agrees to let Barbara stay at the mansion. The film ends like Batman Forever with the image of the Bat-Signal and Batman, Robin and Batgirl appearing as if running from the signal itself towards the camera.
- George Clooney as Batman/Bruce Wayne
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze/Dr. Victor Fries
- Chris O'Donnell as Robin/Richard "Dick" Grayson
- Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy/Dr. Pamela Isley
- Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl/Barbara Wilson
- Jeep Swenson as Bane/Antonio Diego
- Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth
- Pat Hingle as Commissioner James Gordon
- Elle Macpherson as Julie Madison
- John Glover as Dr. Jason Woodrue
- Joel Schumacher - Director
- Akiva Goldsman - Writer
- Peter MacGregor-Scott - Producer
- Benjamin Melniker and Michael Uslan - Executive Producers
- William M. Elvin - Co-Producer
- Elliot Goldenthal - Music Score
- Stephen Goldblatt - Cinematographer
- Barbara Ling - Production Designer
- Dennis Virkler and Mark Stevens - Editors
- Ingrid Ferrin and Robert Turturice - Costume Designers
- Mali Finn - Casting
- Batman/Bruce Wayne
- Mr. Freeze/Dr. Victor Fries
- Robin/Richard "Dick" Grayson
- Poison Ivy/Dr. Pamela Isley
- Batgirl/Barbara Wilson
- Bane/Antonio Diego
- Alfred Pennyworth
- Commissioner James Gordon
- Dr. Jason Woodrue
- Julie Madison
- Gossip Gerty
- Nora Fries
- Ms. B. Haven
- Golum Gang Leader
- Boy Biker
- M.C. of Flower Ball
- Eye Patched Arkham Guard
- Arkham Guard
- Senator Patrick Leahy
- Margaret "Peg" Wilson
- Barbara Wilson's Father
- Wilfred Pennyworth
- Maharajah of Miranjapore
- Superman (mentioned only)
- Gotham City
- Wayne Manor
- Arkham Asylum
- Snowy Cones Ice Cream Factory
- Turkish Bath House
- Botanical Gardens
- Gotham Museum of Art
- Gotham Observatory
- Gilgamesh Wing
- Gotham University
- Oxford University
- Macgregor's Syndrome
- Good Morning Gotham
- Heart of Isis
- Nemo Gum
- Poison Ivy's Animal-Plant Hybrids
- South American rattlesnake
- Bat-credit card
- Riddler's Costume
- Two-Face's Costume
- Scarface (possibly, see The Ventriloquist.)
- This is the first (and only one) of the four Batman movies in the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher series in which neither main antagonist is killed: In Batman, the Joker falls to his death. In Batman Returns, the Penguin dies of his severe injuries after falling into the toxic water of his lair. In Batman Forever, Two-Face falls into a deep pit. In this movie, the only villain who dies is Jason Woodrue. Poison Ivy is committed to Arkham Asylum and Mr. Freeze turns good and goes to Arkham Asylum with his cryogenically frozen wife to finish his research, spending the rest of his time there as Poison Ivy's cell mate, making her life a living hell. Bane was presumed dead after accidentally being crushed by Mr. Freeze, but his death remains ambiguous.
- This is also the only film in which none of the antagonists learn that Batman is Bruce Wayne: In Batman, the Joker and Batman realize who each other is upon learning they "created" each other. In Batman Returns, Bruce rips off his mask in front of Selina Kyle and Max Shreck. Penguin later sees the unmasked Batman. In Batman Forever, the Riddler and Two-Face read Bruce Wayne's mind and discover his identity as Batman. None of the antagonists learn of Batman's secret identity, even though famously in Bane's first appearance in the comics he learns that Batman is Bruce Wayne.
- In the scene where Batman pulls his credit card out, it says "Batman" and the expiration date has the word "Forever". If the two words are put together, it will say Batman Forever, which is the previous movie.
- Dr. Jason Woodrue is played by John Glover, who is more popularly known as Lionel Luthor in Smallville and The Riddler on Batman: The Animated Series.
- Just like in the previous movie, at the end, the heroes are shown running in front of the Batsignal.
- One of the bikers calls another Spud, possibly a reference to The Dark Knight Returns.
- Superman gained brief mention in the beginning of this film.
- Footage from the Rankin-Bass film The Year Without a Santa Claus can be seen in Mr. Freeze's hideout.
- When Bane was stealing Mr. Freeze's suit from the supply room in Arkham Asylum, The Riddler's question-mark fashioned costume worn in Batman Forever can be seen in the background along with Two-Face's half-suit. Notably in the same scene, a puppet resembling the Ventriloquist's scarred dummy Scarface can be glimpsed behind Two-Face's costume.
- Several bikers are wearing outfits similar to Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange.
- During the tunnel run scene, graffiti of the character Shaggy Rogers (of Scooby-Doo fame) can be seen on one side of a canal.
- Despite the film being called "Batman & Robin" the Robin in this film heavily resembles the DC superhero Nightwing, the alter-ego Dick Grayson used after retiring as the Boy Wonder. Director Rob Bowman was approached to direct Batman & Robin but turned it down leading Joel Schumacer to sign on to direct the film. Bowman would reach box office and critical success with The X-Files, the following year in 1998.
Despite the overwhelming negative publicity the film received, its soundtrack became very popular and was well received. The soundtrack included songs by R. Kelly, Arkarna, Jewel, Goo Goo Dolls, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, as well as The Smashing Pumpkins, whose song "The End is the Beginning is the End" rolled over the movie's closing credits. Three songs from the soundtrack became top-ten hits in the United States: Jewel's contribution, a radio-mix version of "Foolish Games", as well as Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's "Look Into My Eyes" and R. Kelly's "Gotham City". There was never an official release of Elliot Goldenthal's score to the film, aside from the brief suite on the song album, but bootleg copies are in fairly wide circulation.
Although the film did moderately well at the box office, it was near universally panned by critics, audiences, and fans. It was mocked for the poor script, as well as over-extending the campy attitude (comprised of smirky one-liners, blatantly ludicrous stunts, as well as ultra loud sound effects) of its predecessor, Batman Forever.
In his review of the film, critic Leonard Maltin found that "the 'story' often makes no sense" and that the "action and effects are loud, gargantuan, and ultimately numbing" however he gave the film 2 1/2 out of 4 stars. Author Mark S. Reinhart added by saying "The combination of Batman & Robin's terrible script, ridiculous costuming, garish sets, uninspired direction, etc. made the film into the appalling dump heap that it is." Michael J. Nelson, in Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese, says "Batman & Robin is not the worst movie ever. No, indeed. It's the worst thing ever. Yes, it's the single worst thing that we as human beings have ever produced in recorded history."
Even director Joel Schumacher has admitted to not being proud of his work, despite any earlier statements to the contrary. Not only did Schumacher criticize the movie, but so did Batman & Robin executive producer Michael Uslan, who said "In my estimation - you're not making movies, you're making two hour infomercials for toys. And that's sad. Because, if a filmmaker is allowed to just go out and make a great film, I believe you will sell toys anyway." It is often jokingly referred to as the Rocky V of Batman films.
On the Internet Movie Database, the film received nearly universal negative user reviews, as well as in an MSN Movies article on superhero movies, the film was ranked as the worst to date. The film was considered the 88th best (out of 94) comic book movie made by Rotten Tomatoes in 2007. In particular, criticism was heaped upon the design of the Batsuit, which, like in the previous film, features nipples, as well as the closeup shots of the caped crusaders while donning their costumes.
Published financial figures indicate that the movie was made on a budget of $125 million. Batman & Robin opened at #1 at the box office, as well as had an opening weekend of $42 million, which were two of its very few successes. However, over time, its popularity slipped, (possibly when put in competition with The Lost World: Jurassic Park, another summer film, which became a huge financial success) and the film collected only $107 million domestically — less than any other Batman film — and $131 million abroad. Studios usually expect summer movies — particularly those in a highly successful series — to earn more profit than that and Warner Brothers cancleed the series after four live-action films.
The film was derisively dubbed Batman on Ice by critics for a scene in which Batman and Robin inexplicably have retractable ice skates in their boots while battling Mr. Freeze's henchmen on an icy floor in the opening sequence. In context, it would make sense for them to bring "skate boots" to a battle with Mr. Freeze. George Clooney was himself severely embarrassed by the film, saying, "I think we might have killed the franchise."
The infamous "Bat Credit Card" scene, where Batman, in bidding war for a date with Poison Ivy against Robin, whips out a credit card emblazoned with his logo, was especially panned as a huge insult to the character. It became quite famous to Internet users in 2008 when, during a full review of the film, film reviewer Doug Walker (a.k.a., "the Nostalgia Critic") went into a loud, long tirade over this scene that's become a staple of the character's show.
On the contrary, Uma Thurman’s performance in the film received mainly universal critical and fan acclaim, as most people regarded her as the only reason as to watch this movie. Her performance as Poison Ivy remains to be one of her best and memorable performances of all time. The New York Times wrote about Thurman in a positive review: "like Mae West, she mixes true femininity with the winking womanliness of a drag queen." A similar positive comparison was made by the Houston Chronicle: "Thurman, to arrive at a ’40s femme fatale, sometimes seems to be doing Mae West by way of Jessica Rabbit." In addition, the San Francisco Chronicle points out, "Poison Ivy is the film's best creation. She's a a radical environmentalist who gets bitten by snakes and buried in vines only to rise up, gorgeous and redheaded, like Botticelli's Venus. Like America's original femme fatale, Beatrice in Hawthorne's 'Rappaccini's Daughter', Ivy has a poisonous kiss. Like Dietrich in 'Blonde Venus', she shows up at a ritzy affair in a gorilla suit". It can be surmised that similarly to Catwoman in Batman Returns, Pamela Isley allowed her ideal personifaction of strong femininity to be displayed, after her "resurrection" as Poison Ivy.
Box Office Performance
The movie grossed about $238,207,122 worldwide, making up less than 191% of its $125,000,000 budget.
Awards and Nominations
The film was nominated for eleven Golden Raspberry Awards, including one for Worst Picture. However, due to some stiff competition, it only managed to take home the award for "Worst Supporting Actress" (Alicia Silverstone). However, Alicia Silverstone also took home the award for Favorite Movie Actress at the 1998 ceremony for the Kids' Choice Awards. The end credits song "The End Is the Beginning Is the End" won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance, but was also nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song.
Batman & Robin was released on VHS and Laserdisc in October 1997. Batman & Robin was given a "bare bones" DVD release in 1997. The main menu featured background music while the only extra feature was a synopsis of the film. However, in 2005, the newest feature film, Batman Begins, caused Warner Bros. to release a two-disc special edition set of all four Burton-Schumacher films in Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997.
Behind The Scenes
The impact of this film was multifold. Joel Schumacher found his reputation all but ruined and Warner Bros. was the focus of much derision for producing the film.
With the possible exception of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who deliberately overplayed his role for comedic purposes, all the principal performers involved lost credibility for some time as serious actors. One remark made by George Clooney regarding the film is that it killed the franchise. However, Uma Thurman's career has since rebounded, thanks to roles in Kill Bill and The Producers. Clooney would make his major comeback in successful directing for Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night, and Good Luck, as well as starring in Three Kings, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Ocean's Eleven and its sequels, as well as finally winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Syriana.
Schumacher himself would return to grittier primarily independent films and eventually redeemed himself with the acclaimed Phone Booth and the box office smash hit The Phantom of the Opera an adaptation of the musical version by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
It has since been argued that the film's dismal failure was, in the long run, a boon for comic book films, as the comedic angle taken to the source material by the makers of the film was so unpopular that other filmmakers would be encouraged to treat the source material with more reverence in their own films. This arguably ended the influence of the 1960s Batman television series' campy tone in favor of Richard Donner's more respectful approach to superheroes as with the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie in 1978. This attitude has led to successful and acclaimed film adaptations such as Blade (1998), X-Men (2000), Spider-Man (2002), Batman Begins (2005), Superman Returns (2006), as well as Iron Man (2008).
Batman & Robin marked the end of the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher era of movies. Likely due to the film's poor reception, all future Batman movies were cancelled and the franchise was put on hold for nearly eight years. A new Batman franchise was launched in 2005, with Batman Begins, a darker film that was both critically and financially successful ($366 million worldwide gross as of September 4, 2005), with no continuity to Burton's and Schumacher's movies. George Clooney did not participate in the project and was succeeded by the much-younger Christian Bale, who was widely praised for his portrayal of both Bruce Wayne and his alter ego.
On October 18, 2005, Warner Bros. released a new deluxe DVD for the movie with commentary by Schumacher. The commentary has gotten attention for Schumacher's candid comments on how he was forced to put in gadgets for the toy companies to make, his confession that he went too far trying to make the movie more kid-friendly than the previous films, but nonetheless defended script-writer Akiva Goldsman saying: "If you don't like the film, blame the director."
On the BBC show Fully Booked, presenter Sarah Vandenbergh interviewed Joel prior to the release of the film in June 1997 and asked if a sequel would be possible. Schumacher said, "If the audience likes this one, if they want another Batman, then yes we will do another Batman. I would be very interested". This was never to be due to the response from critics and the fans of this film.
- There is one scene where Alfred tells Bruce and Dick about his relationship with Margaret Clark, Barbara Wilson's mother. Due to this scene being cut, her identity and name being Alfred's laptop password that Barbara guesses is confusing to the audience.
|Burton/Schumacher Film Series|
|Films: Batman • Batman Returns • Batman Forever • Batman & Robin|