Holy Bat-Facts, It’s 10 Things You Never Knew About Batman Forever!
It sits somewhere near the bottom of our affections below Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed films, but Batman Forever is still a fun cinematic romp with some impressively crazy villains. Below are 10 facts about the first – and definitely the best – of Joel Schumacher’s pair of bat-flicks.
10. It was originally going to be a prequel
Batman Forever director Joel Schumacher – who passed away in June 2020 at the age of 80 – was originally keen to adapt Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One graphic novel, which tells the story of Batman’s early days.
Michael Keaton was enthused with this idea and looked set to return as the Dark Knight, but Warner Bros rejected the idea outright, making clear that they wanted the film to be another sequel rather than a prequel.
9. The first draft of the script saw the return of Catwoman
The initial draft of Batman Forever’s script saw Batman’s enemy Scarecrow joining forces with The Riddler.
The script also saw the return of Catwoman, but after screenwriter Akiva Goldsman was brought onto the project by Joel Schumacher to carry out rewrites, both of these elements were removed.
8. Warner Bros was pressured by brands including McDonald’s to make the film child-friendly
Tim Burton’s Batman Returns proved to be far too dark for brands like McDonald’s, who stopped promoting the film when the full extent of its mature tone was revealed.
This led to executives at Warner Bros demanding that Batman Forever be more child-friendly, something that its director and screenwriters were not initially keen on.
7. It could have seen Tom Hanks or Keanu Reeves playing Batman
Val Kilmer would turn down the opportunity to play the caped crusader for a second time in Batman & Robin so he could instead star in The Saint, but we still believe that he was a great choice for the role.
However, Kilmer wasn’t the studio’s first choice to don the Batsuit in Batman Forever after Michael Keaton chose not to return. Ethan Hawke turned down the opportunity to play Bruce Wayne, while a number of other actors were considered including William Baldwin, Keanu Reeves, Kurt Russell and even Tom Hanks.
6. Robin Williams refused to play The Riddler after being shunned by Warner Bros
The late Robin Williams was reportedly first choice to play the role of Edward Nigma/The Riddler, but he turned down the opportunity due to having been shunned by Warner Bros six years earlier.
Williams was approached about the possibility of him playing The Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film after Tim Burton’s first choice Jack Nicholson dragged his heels about taking on the role. Apparently Nicholson signed on the dotted line as soon as he heard that other actors were being approached, which left Williams so furious that he point blank refused to star in another Warner Bros film until the studio apologised to him.
5. Joel Schumacher said Val Kilmer was “childish and impossible” on set
Numerous reports have suggested that Val Kilmer was a difficult presence on set, clashing with Joel Schumacher as well as various members of the film’s crew.
Schumacher later described Kilmer as “childish and impossible,” and revealed that the actor didn’t speak to him for a fortnight after he called him out for being rude.
4. Tommy Lee Jones told Jim Carrey that he “hated” him
It wasn’t just Val Kilmer who caused trouble on the film’s set, because Jim Carrey later admitted that Tommy Lee Jones was extremely unfriendly to him, even going so far as to tell the Riddler actor: “I hate you, I really don’t like you…I cannot sanction your buffoonery.”
Joel Schumacher has also backed up Carrey’s claims, having been quoted as saying that “Jim Carrey was a gentleman, and Tommy Lee was threatened by him.” The director also said he was “tired of defending over-paid, over-privileged actors. I pray I don’t work with them again.”
3. Batman’s creator loved Val Kilmer but despised the Batsuit’s nipples
Keen for his version of the Batsuit to resemble ancient statues of Greek gods, Joel Schumacher added nipples to the torso, something that was said to have upset Batman’s creator Bob Kane.
Kane was a big fan of Val Kilmer in the role, however, revealing that he thought the actor played both Batman and Bruce Wayne perfectly.
2. Tim Burton strongly opposed the film’s title
Tim Burton, who directed both Batman and Batman Returns before acting as co-producer on Batman Forever, has revealed that he hated the film’s title.
“I always hated those titles like Batman Forever,” Burton has said. “That sounds like a tattoo that somebody would get when they’re on drugs…or something some kid would write in the yearbook.”
1. A longer and darker version of the film could still be released
The first cut of Batman Forever, which was said to be much darker than the final version as well as being over 40 minutes longer, could still be released.
Despite confirming that the cut does exist, Warner Bros have said there are no plans to release it, although screenwriter Akiva Goldsman revealed in April 2021 that he has seen the extended version and expects it will see a “rebirth.”