5 Reasons Why You Don’t Have to Hate Batman & Robin Anymore
Look, we get it. Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin film from 1997 was not a good movie. It was easily the worst Batman film ever, and it could quite possibly be the worst comic book movie of all time. The directing was bad, the casting was misplaced and the writing was a sin against God and nature. Still, though. There were, in fact, some redeeming qualities to the 4th film the franchise. Yes, Robin was whiny and yes, Batman was played by a clearly bored George Clooney and yes, Batgirl was in it for some reason and yes, Bane was made to look like Lenny from Of Mice and Men and yes, Poison Ivy had some corny dialogue and yes, there was lots of neon and nipples and yes, Chris O’Donnell was still a 40-year-old Boy Wonder. But with the benefit of hindsight, could it be Batman & Robin is a just campy good time?
5) It Did Have Pathos
The majority of the story in Batman & Robin was corny and cliché, but it did feature some real pathos, courtesy of Michael Gough’s Alfred. Throughout its 4-movie slate, the one constant was Michael Gough. He and Commissioner Gordon (played by Pat Hingle) were the only actors to appear in all four movies. While Hingle did a fine job with what he was given in these movies (that is, not very much), Alfred really did feel like a pivotal character. In Batman & Robin, we find out that Alfred is battling a disease called MacGregor’s Syndrome, which was the same fatal disease that Mr. Freeze’s wife, Nora, succumbed to before being frozen by her husband, as he raced to find a cure. This story arc actually meant a lot to viewers who have watched Alfred since 1989. He was, arguably, the only character in this film that fans really cared about but, to be fair, they cared a lot. Alfred brought a ton of pathos to a film lacking much substance.
4) Despite the Puns, It Told the Proper Mr. Freeze Story
Mr. Freeze was terrible in this film. This wasn’t a big surprise though. After all, Joel Schumacher cast Arnold Schwarzenegger in the part, so how serious could it actually have been? But, despite the miscasting and the ice puns, Batman & Robin actually stayed pretty close to the arc told to perfection in Batman: The Animated Series. In the series and in the movie, Mr. Freeze was a bad guy, but he wasn’t necessarily a bad guy. He was a scientist whose wife was being kept alive via a cryogenic chamber. Everything that Freeze did, every decision he made and every law that he broke was simply done to hopefully save his wife. That was the story told in Batman: The Animated Series and it won an Emmy. The story was replicated in Batman & Robin, to much lesser success, but it was still the best kind of Mr. Freeze story. He even gets some form of redemption towards the end of the film.
3) It Was Woke
We live in an unbelievable age where women are finally being acknowledged as being on the same ‘level’ as men. It’s something that should have occurred, oh.., let’s say, 2000 years ago but still! Progress. Speaking of progress, Batman movies were very progressive back in the ’90s. Batman Returns portrayed Catwoman as a woman who was comfortable in her own skin, who owned her sexuality and who was able to go toe-to-toe with Batman in terms of fighting. Not to be outdone, Batman& Robin featured two female leads, in the form of Poison Ivy and Batgirl.
2) It Wasn’t Made for 30-Year-Olds
This writer was 10-years-old when Batman & Robin was released. Unsurprisingly, I loved the movie. Not only that, I loved the toys that came with the movie. I had all sorts of variations of Batman and Robin and those action figures were responsible for some of my favorite memories. Today, I wouldn’t choose to watch this version of the Dark Knight, but 10-year-old me loved the damn film. And ya know what? That’s who the film was made for. It wasn’t made for the grownups who already loved Batman. It was made for kids to introduce them to Batman, and it did exactly that. This movie was not made for cynical, snobby grownups. It was made for the 10-year-old kid who just thought it was so cool to see Batman and Robin team up.
1) It Made Way for The Dark Knight Trilogy
Of course, without the abysmal failure that Batman and Robin became, we more-than-likely wouldn’t have been given Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. That is, perhaps, the greatest contribution Batman & Robin has made. It’s the also biggest reason that it’s okay not to hate it anymore.
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