Over 20 years before fans pitched a fit over Ben Affleck being cast as Batman, fans pitched a fit over comedic actor Michael Keaton being cast in the same role in the 1989 milestone film, directed by Tim Burton (with whom Keaton had worked on ‘Beetlejuice’) co-starring Jack Nicholson as The Joker. Keaton and Burton re-teamed for the sequel ‘Batman Returns’, which introduced Danny DeVito as The Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. But Burton passed on directing a third film in the successful franchise and Joel Schumacher took over. Keaton was apparently still slated to return, but he quickly realized the brand was moving in the wrong direction.
Keaton recently revealed:
“It sucked. I knew it was in trouble when he [Schumacher] said, ‘Why does everything have to be so dark?’ “
The result was ‘Batman Forever‘ which retained certain stylistic elements from Burton’s movies, but with heavy splashes of color added, especially in the form of Jim Carrey’s manic Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’ scenery-chewing Two-Face. Val Kilmer stepped in as the new Batman/Bruce Wayne and Chris O’Donnell appeared as Robin.
This film was actually a huge financial success and most viewers felt the film was just fine at the time. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the fourth movie ‘Batman & Robin’ in which Schumacher took the flashes of brightness and humor he employed in ‘Batman Forever’ and cranked them to eleven. The movie was such a disappointment that the franchise died for over a decade before Christopher Nolan revived it with his dark, grounded ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy.
Keaton continued to work steadily but in recent years has enjoyed something of a renaissance, earning a Golden Globe award and an Academy Award nomination for ‘Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)’ and appearing in the 2015 Best Motion Picture of the Year, ‘Spotlight’. His latest movie, ‘The Founder’ is already generating awards buzz.
And of course, Keaton will appear later this year as The Vulture in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’.
What do you think? Did ‘Batman Forever’ really suck?
Source: The Hollywood Reporter