While the character of Batman has come a long way in his cinematic portrayals over the last couple of years, the Caped Crusader definitely hit rock bottom in the late 90’s. When Tim Burton decided to not return for the third installment in the Batman franchise, Joel Schumacher was chosen to helm Batman Forever starring Val Kilmer.
Despite mixed reviews, Batman Forever did decently enough at the box office to be granted a sequel, with Schumacher returning to the director’s chair for Batman & Robin. That ended up killing the current Batman franchise as the fourth installment was a critical disaster and is universally the most disliked Batman film in the history of the Dark Knight’s cinematic presence.
Vice recently spoke with Schumacher as the director reflected on his time with the Batman franchise. Schumacher started the interview off with a straight-up apology for Batman & Robin as he definitely felt bad for the fans that he let down.
“Look, I apologize. I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that.”
Throughout the interview, Schumacher described the challenges of doing a sequel after Forever. The director also discussed how he was seen as “scum” after the disaster that was Batman & Robin.
“You know, I just knew not to do a sequel. If you get lucky, walk away. But everybody at Warner Brothers just expected me to do one. Maybe it was some hubris on my part. I had a batting average of 1,000, so I went from falling down a bit after Lost Boys, to a kind of a genius with The Client, a big blockbuster with Batman Forever, then had great reviews with A Time to Kill, so my batting average was good. I never planned on being, that dreadful quote, “a blockbuster king” because my other films were much smaller and had just found success with the audience and not often with the critics, which is really why we wrote them. And then after Batman & Robin, I was scum. It was like I had murdered a baby.”
While being apologetic for the films, Schumacher stressed that no fans gave up on the Batman character seeing his films. The director reflected on the initial process when he was approached to take over the franchise from Burton who apparently begged Schumacher to take the gig.
“I guess I’ll say, I hope no fans moved on from Batman upon first seeing my movie. When I was first approached to do Batman Forever, I said that it was Tim Burton’s franchise. At the time Danny Devito’s character with The Penguin was causing a ruckus among parents. Also, Michelle Pfeiffer with her fabulous bondage outfit didn’t help matters. People across America were objecting to everything. Tim, who is a great friend of mine, begged me to take the franchise. Because of the pressure and he was ready to walk away. What’s interesting to me is if you see Tim and my version, you can see how innocent viewers were back then.
It’s really interesting to me is, because if you see Tim’s and my [films], you’d understand how innocent the audience was back then when it demanded to have more of a family-friendly Batman. Then when you see Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, the last one especially where he’s dealing with real class and economic problems, you see how the audience has changed in the fact that they can accept and want darker and darker subject matter.”
Every DC Comics Film, Ranked From Worst To Best
The film legacy of DC Comics should never be understated, even as the maturing superhero genre continues to follow more diverse paths of success through comic book characters beyond DC’s iconic catalogue.
But not all DC movies are created equal, and there’s merit to reflecting on how these films measure up against one another as the DC Extended Universe approaches its fifth movie in the form of Justice League (and the crowd said, finally). This list attempts to do just that by holding every live-action DC movie released in theaters to a consistent set of worthwhile standards, including the quality of the film itself, the onscreen performances, cultural relevance (both within and outside of box office considerations), overall impact, contributions to the genre at large, and originality.
Put more simply, a movie on this list won’t trump another on ticket sales, alone (or at all). But perhaps you’ll find an experimental DC film getting the leg up over another that is slightly more formulaic and unremarkable, despite being remembered fondly.
For obvious reasons, it’s perfectly alright to disagree with this list, but keep in mind that expecting it to coincide with your personal opinions and observations will only leave you disappointed. That said, be sure to offer your own arguments and lists in the comments for others to weigh their opinions against, because…well, why not?
Let’s start with the worst of the DC films (not an easy task). Hit Next to continue.