20 Things You Didn't Know About Batman Forever

The old-guard may have changed, but the remainder is weirdly faithful.

Val Kilmer Batman Forever
Warner Bros.

Long-running franchises are prone to reboots, re-interpretations and even re-invention. The James Bond series launched with Sean Connery's suave, charming run before scrambling to find a replacement (that wasn't George Lazenby) and wound up with Roger Moore, whose Bondian-era is far more jokey and relaxed in tone. Today, it seems, we're prepared for unvarnished Bond - the blunt instrument of Her Majesty that happens to be the correct tool for the job.

We were just as ready for the same from Christopher Nolan, whose work on the Batman franchise draws heavily and faithfully from the source material. Inspired by popular aristocratic heroes of the 30s with dual identities and movies like Roland West's The Bat Whispers, Bob Kane and Bill Finger collaborated to bring about their own great mystery detective/hero.

But the most drastic changing of the guard occurred when Joel Schumacher took the reigns from Tim Burton in 1995. The stark difference between the two's approach to Gotham is evident from the first shot. And though synergy was a part of the deal since 1989, Batman Forever strove to be more kid-friendly than Burton's border-line R-rated entries.

The colour, flamboyance and humour were all lighter, the performances more over-the-top wacky and the action setpieces were straight out of a 9-year-old's fever dream. To die hard fans, it was an insult.

Alas, a lot went into the planning and production of Batman Forever, some of which you may have glossed over. Here's a bit of a primer.

20. Robin Williams Was Too Bitter To Participate

Val Kilmer Batman Forever
Deviantart - Elmic-Toboo

When it was first announced that producer/Barbara Steisand's hairdresser Jon Peters had acquired the rights to Batman, there was a frenzy of actors chomping at the bit for roles. Most notably, Robin Williams actively campaigned to play Jack Napier AKA The Joker in Tim Burton's 1989 film. He felt a connection to the role and appeared to be excited to get an offer.

Later, however, he learned producers had their hearts set on Jack Nicholson, who had refused initially. They had pushed Williams forward as bait to attract Nicholson back to the role, a casting decision they were so devoted to they ensured top billing. When Williams learned he was just being dangled like a shiny object in front of a dog, it left a bitter taste in his mouth.

So when he was approached more seriously for Batman Forever to play The Riddler - a role for which he'd be infinitely more well-suited - he outright refused without an apology from the studio for past behaviour that never came.


Kenny Hedges is carbon-based. So I suppose a simple top 5 in no order will do: Halloween, Crimes and Misdemeanors, L.A. Confidential, Billy Liar, Blow Out He has his own website - thefilmreal.com - and is always looking for new writers with differing views to broaden the discussion.