After directing Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzenegger to the most embarrassingly over-the-top, ludicrously pantomime and camp performances of their career's in 1997's Batman & Robin, just who was the man responsible thinking about one-upping himself with for the casting of his follow-up? Well to the surprise of nobody, it seems it would have been the crazy eccentric Nicolas Cage. Though at that time, he was only 20% loony. He was coming off his Best Actor Oscar victory for Leaving Las Vegas and was the most in-demand actor in Hollywood after a run of cool turns in Face/Off and The Rock. It would have been yet another astonishing A-list casting coup for the Bat franchise, especially considering Tim Burton's attempts to use him as Superman were just falling apart. In a new interview with The Playlist, Schmaucher claims he was begging Warner Bros to allow him to cast Cage as the villainous Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow in what would have been the film-maker's third Batman movie and the fifth overall in the series, which then carried the title Batman: Triumphant.
I was supposed to do a fifth one, Schumacher says. I was talking to Nic Cage about playing the Scarecrow. I had begged the studio for The Dark Knight , but they wanted a family friendly, toyetic thing.Although it seems absurd now, Warner Bros were as once hot on Joel Schmaucher as they are today for Christopher Nolan. They were very happy with Batman Forever's $336 million worldwide box office numbers and his ability to tone down the bleak aspects of Batman Returns and deliver a out-and-out blockbuster had worked, they were selling the merchandise deals they wanted and the toys were flying off the shelves. At the time, Batman Forever was exactly what they wanted from the franchise. They quickly secured Schmaucher on Batman & Robin and the early dailies were again pleasing. Colorful, big costumes, outrageous villains... a Saturday morning cartoon brought to life that was broad as hell and appealed to the kids market. They were completely clueless that they had pushed Schmaucher too far with what they were looking for and it would later bite them in the ass.... but at that point they couldn't have imagined not making further sequels. After screenwriter of the last two movies Akiva Goldsman declined the offer of another paycheque (perhaps he was the only one to see the writing on the wall at what he was being asked to write?) Warner Bros. hired rookie Mark Protosevich (who had no credits to his name at the time but has since gone on to write The Cell, Poseidon, I Am Legend and Thor), to draft the fifth film Batman Triumphant in late 96 for a release mid 99. Just about the only villain left unused was Scarecrow. However one positive Scarecrow gave them was a rather hoaky way to get Jack Nicholson involved in the franchise again having played The Joker so memorably and to so much financial success in 1989 (they had tried for years to figure out how to bring him back from his climatic death in the original), as the idea was that Scarecrow's fear toxin would cause hallucinations in Batman's mind where he would think his former enemies were out to torture him, when it was really another force pulling the strings. Nicholson would make a highly coveted appearance and Harley Quinn was written as a side character, who it turned out was The Joker's daughter and out for revenge against Batman for killing her dad. George Clooney (Batman), Chris O'Donnell (Robin) would return, along with Alicia Silverstone (Batgirl), Michael Gough (Alfred) and Pat Hingle (Gordon). I guess the psychological theme to the film would have appealed, though we all know it would have turned out to be ludicrous. Of course once WB actually realised the public didn't want Batman & Robin, the franchise was dead and Batman: Triumphant never happened. There would be no more Batman movies for eight years, when ironically enough Chris Nolan would use Scarecrow character in Batman Begins. Post-Batman & Robin, Joel Schmaucher did get to make the dark and gritty movie he wanted with Nicolas Cage titled 8mm but in the years since his career has plummeted to the point where next Friday he releases Trespass, starring Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman, but incredibly only on limited release. Despite the names attached it couldn't even get a wide booking. Talk about a diminishing career. Whilst Nicolas Cage himself seems to have gone on playing characters who would have fit quite nicely in Schmaucher's Batman universe. We'll never know for sure what his Scarecrow would have turned out like but I think we have a good idea by now.