The third Batman film of the 80’s into the 90’s, Batman Forever these days is associated with bat-nipples and camp but many forget that it was a roaring success at the time of its release and demanded a sequel almost right away… and we know how that turned out.
Joel Schumacher developed a different vision of Batman from Burton’s that was camper and had a kind of neon noir look to it. It has its moments and is at least better than Batman and Robin but I can’t say it is high on my list of Batman movies. Nevertheless I have to admit that I am intrigued by a longer cut that delved more deeply into the darkness of Batman’s inner world.
A super-sized version of Joel Schumacher‘s Batman Forever reportedly exists in the form of a nearly three-hour director’s cut. Writer and podcaster Marc Bernardin reported on Fatman Beyond that he had it on very good authority that a 170-minute cut of the movie exists, but that Warner Bros. has never made a move toward releasing it because they weren’t sure whether there was a market for a longer, darker version of a lighthearted, popcorn-movie version of Batman. The film, in which Val Kilmer played Batman while Chris O’Donnell played Robin, Jim Carrey was The Riddler, and Tommy Lee Jones was Two-Face, was a turning point for the character.
When Batman came out in 1989, Tim Burton rebelled against the camp and silliness that most non-comics audiences associated with the character as a result of the wildly popular 1966 Batman TV series. Burton went darker still with Batman Returns, and when Warner Bros. wanted to try something else for the third movie, Schumacher presented a neon-technicolor film, saturated with camp and bringing the spirit of the ’60s show to the big screen.
“I have it on pretty good authority that there exists in the Warner Bros. vault a 170-minute cut of Batman Forever,” Bernardin told his co-host Kevin Smith. “I think that it went much deeper into his childhood psychosis and his mental blocks and that it was a more serious, darker version of that movie that was one of the first assemblies that Joel filed with the studio and they eventually cut it down because they were like ‘it’s too dark for kids. We gotta sell these Happy Meals, so maybe let’s not invest ourselves in the trauma of childhood murder. We’ve got Jim Carrey, let him do some s–t.”
Smith said that while WB might doubt it, he strongly suspects fans would like to see the extended cut, noting that post-laserdisc and DVD, audiences are smart enough to understand the differences between cuts.
See my review of Batman Forever here