Until recently, the name “Joel Schumacher” was a dirty word to many, particularly to many a Batman fan.
Then, suddenly, the controversial director of two Batman films succumbed to cancer at the age of 80 and there was a very public outpouring of sadness at his passing.
Certainly, Schumacher’s contributions to Warner Brothers’ original quadrilogy of Batman films are not as highly regarded as Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). However, it is also important to bear in mind that Schumacher, unlike Burton, was a self-confessed Batman fan and was purportedly instructed by the studio to follow a more light-hearted approach to the films.
His name sadly became mud after his second entry into the franchise, Batman & Robin (1997), but he remained proud of his first effort, Batman Forever (1995), albeit nobly taking the blame for Batman & Robin, which placed further cinematic Batman projects into development hell before Christopher Nolan swooped in to the rescue with Batman Begins (2005).
Whilst his work on Batman is often compared far less favourably to the work of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan, who bookended his career in helming the Dark Knight’s cinematic world, he actually invested more into the cinematic Batman character than both fans and critics alike care to give him credit for.