Batman & Robin
Batman & Robin is a 1997 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character Batman directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Akiva Goldsman. It is the fourth and final installment of Warner Bros.'s initial Batman film series. It is also a sequel to Batman Forever, and the only film in the series made without the involvement of former Batman director Tim Burton in any capacity. It stars George Clooney as Bruce Wayne/Batman (replacing Val Kilmer), Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze and Chris O'Donnell reprising his role as Dick Grayson/Robin, alongside Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, and Elle Macpherson.
In this film, the titular characters (Batman and Robin) attempt to prevent Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy from taking over the world, while at the same time struggling to keep their partnership together. It is also to date the only live-action film appearance of Batgirl, portrayed by Silverstone, who helps the title characters fight the villains.
Batman & Robin premiered in Los Angeles on June 12, 1997, and went into general release on June 20. Making $238.2 million worldwide against a production budget of $160 million, the film received generally unfavorable reviews and is often considered to be one of the worst films ever made. Due to the film's poor reception, Warner Bros. cancelled a sequel, Batman Unchained, and rebooted the film series with Batman Begins in 2005.
Batman and Robin fail to stop Mr. Freeze from stealing a cache of diamonds. They learn that Mr. Freeze was once a scientist named Victor Fries, who became dependent on a diamond-powered sub-zero suit following an accident in a cryogenics lab while working to save his wife, Nora, from a terminal illness called MacGregor's Syndrome. Meanwhile, botanist Dr. Pamela Isley is experimenting with the strength serum "Venom" to create mutant plants capable of fighting back against mankind in a laboratory located in South America. She is angry that her senior colleague, Dr. Jason Woodrue, used the serum to transform a diminutive prisoner into the "super-soldier" Bane. She refuses to partner with Dr. Woodrue, so he tries to kill her by pushing her onto a table filled with animal-plant toxins and chemicals, causing her to transform into the beautiful and deadly Poison Ivy. She kills Dr. Woodrue with a venomous kiss and vows to establish botanical supremacy all over the world.
Alfred Pennyworth's niece Barbara Wilson makes a surprise visit from England and is invited to stay at Wayne Manor. Later, Barbara finds the Batcave and creates her own crime-fighting persona with the help of a computer simulation of Alfred. The real Alfred is suffering from MacGregor's Syndrome. However, he is in the early stages of the disease for which Mr. Freeze has developed a cure, being unable to cure his wife's condition because it is too advanced. Ivy arrives in Gotham City with Bane as her henchman. She interrupts a Wayne Enterprises press conference at Gotham Observatory, where a giant telescope is being unveiled. Poison Ivy demands that Bruce Wayne use his fortune to safeguard the natural environment at the expense of millions of human lives, but Bruce refuses.
Poison Ivy appears at the Gotham Botanical Gardens fundraiser, seducing everyone present with her pheromone dust, including the Dynamic Duo, who are there to protect a diamond from Mr. Freeze. When Mr. Freeze crashes the event, Poison Ivy is instantly captivated by his "ruthless charm". Mr. Freeze is captured by Batman after a car chase through the streets of Gotham and detained in Arkham Asylum but is soon broken out by Poison Ivy and Bane. She turns off Nora Fries' life support and makes Mr. Freeze believe Batman did it, persuading him that they should destroy Batman along with the society that created him. They plan to turn the observatory's new telescope into a giant freeze ray to kill all of humanity and allow Poison Ivy's mutant plants to take over the world.
Meanwhile, Robin is under Poison Ivy's seductive spell and rebelling against Batman. Robin goes to meet Poison Ivy at her garden hideout, where her venomous kiss fails to kill Robin because Batman had persuaded him to coat his lips with rubber. Poison Ivy tries to drown Robin in her lily pond and entangles Batman in her crushing vines, but they are freed when Batgirl arrives and traps Poison Ivy in her own floral throne. Batgirl reveals herself as Barbara and the three crime fighters arrive at Gotham Observatory to stop Mr. Freeze, who has already frozen all of Gotham. Bane attacks Robin and Batgirl, but they incapacitate him and revert him to his original human state. Robin and Batgirl save Gotham by using the observatory's satellites to reflect sunlight from outer space to thaw the city.
Batman shows Mr. Freeze video proof that Poison Ivy pulled the plug on Nora and reveals that he was the one who saved her. He reveals that Mr. Freeze will be allowed to continue his research at Arkham Asylum to cure Nora. Batman asks Mr. Freeze for his cure for the early stages of MacGregor's Syndrome for Alfred and Mr. Freeze atones for his misdeeds by giving him two vials of the medicine. At Arkham, Poison Ivy is joined in her cell by Mr. Freeze, who vows to exact revenge on her for what she did to his wife. Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred is cured and Bruce invites Barbara to live with them, joining Batman and Robin to fight crime as Batgirl.
Why It Can Freeze You
- Executive meddling: While Joel Schumacher's first Batman movie was less dark and more kid friendly to appease Warner Bros. executives who felt Batman Returns was too dark and inappropriate for kids, Schumacher was told to make this movie even more kid friendly to where dark elements of any kind from the previous movies had to be done away with entirely, thus killing the franchise entirely.
- While the premise of Batman and Robin going up against Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze sounded very original and a very great idea, it was sadly and unfortunately ruined by a horrible execution that essentially turned the original Batman film series into a dead horse with lots of campiness.
- The costume designs while ok did not improve from Batman Forever, as Batman's suits are recolors from Forever, while Robin's costume is just a red Nightwing with a cape.
- They added so much unwanted details such as the infamous Batnipples and Batasses.
- In fact, Joel Schumacher himself later expressed his regret over the film being essentially turned into a feature-length toy commercial.
- Chris O'Donnell's acting for Robin sound like a bratty teenager and all-around moron, and his character Dick Grayson/Robin spends most of his screen-time whining, making him unfaithful to the comics.
- Poor grasp of the source material (e.g., Barbara/Batgirl is now Alfred Pennyworth's niece instead of Commissioner Jim Gordon's daughter).
- Blatant disregard for physics (i.e., characters being able to safely jump from dangerous heights).
- Numerous oddities, plot-holes, and inconsistencies, including but not limited to:
- Mr. Freeze can somehow smoke a cigarette, which goes against the state of his altered biology.
- Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy does not seem very compatible as partners because he wants to freeze the world and she wants plants to roam the world. Plants cannot survive in freezing temperatures.
- Ms. B. Haven shows no ill effects from wearing a skimpy outfit in Freeze's frozen hideout.
- After Mr. Freeze takes out two vials with a blue liquid in them, we see that they fit perfectly into Alfred's IV stand in the Wayne Manor. Unless they were both made by Wayne Enterprises, it's not possible to fit it in the IV stand that perfectly.
- During the chase in the beginning of the movie, Mr. Freeze freezes Robin before he can snatch the diamond but chooses to spare Batman by saying he'll kill him later, which is idiotic since nothing is stopping him from doing to Batman what he did to Robin.
- There's a pointless scene where we see the Riddler and Two-Face's outfits at the Arkhum Asylum. Speaking of Two-Face, isn't he supposed to be dead?!
- Batman and Robin appear at an auction instead of as their actual selves, which is strange since they usually only show up when a crime is going down.
- During a scene where Batman, Robin, and Batgirl are on their vehicles and are being pursued by Freeze's henchmen, she's wearing a mask which looks hideous on her, but as soon as they reach the museum, she takes it off (supposedly because Alicia Silverstone didn't want to wear it due to how awful it looked on her).
- Countless amounts of product placement, such as the Apple Macintosh computers.
- There are numerous technical oddities present in the film which adds to how poorly made the movie is. For example:
- When Robin comes out of the water in one scene, the scene goes in reverse motion just so he goes back under
- When Mr. Freeze says "It's winter forever here in Gotham!", the audio doesn't seem synced to the movement of his lips.
- Very poor acting on everyone's part, especially George Clooney as Batman. Speaking of which, he was only hired as a replacement for Val Kilmer since Val Kilmer was committed to another movie, hence why Clooney took his place, which comes off odd since both movies feature the same director but with two completely different actors playing Batman.
- The villains are not as good as they were in the comics books for many reasons:
- Bane is portrayed as being incredibly dim-witted in stark contrast to his comic book counterpart, who has genius-level intellect.
- Jason Woodrue, who is one of Swamp Thing's arch-nemeses as the Floronic Man in the comics, is now a generic "mad scientist" who creates Bane and Poison Ivy before getting killed by the latter.
- The first two films had a very dark and serious tone, and while the third film was a bit more light-hearted and campy, it had its dark moments as well. This fourth film, however, is way too campy even so more then the 1966 Batman tv series.
- In fact, the whole film feels more like a feature-length toy commercial than an actual Batman film.
- Not to mention, a cartoon sound effect can be heard when a fighting scene happens like tripping sound effect.
- The infamous scene where Batman, despite being very rich, reveals that he has "A BAT CREDIT CARD!" which was just nonsensical and had no reason to exist at all.
- Numerous unnecessary homoerotic innuendos, such as the camera zooming in on everyone's buttocks and crotches during the opening sequence, as well as Batgirl's suiting-up sequences showing her breasts and buttocks as well (there is an interesting theory that they are in the film due to Joel Schumacher being homosexual).
- The pacing is awful. While Forever's pacing was hit or miss, the action scenes were at least decently done. But in this movie, nothing feels paced properly at all.
- Most of the Batman fans thought that George Clooney made a poor Batman, and he himself even admitted that he really hated playing Batman. Years after starring in this film, he refuses to talk to people about how awful he felt playing Batman and most people don't blame him for being unhappy about it.
- Numerous dialogue/moments makes it feel like an unintentional comedy. For example:
- Robin saying "I want a car, chicks dig the car!" and Batman saying "This is why Superman works alone...".
- When Barbara is first seen visiting with Alfred, she says "I suppose they don't have fax machines on elephants".
- Unbelievably bad one-liners and puns from Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze, something his mainstream and animated counterparts would never do.
- Poison Ivy's origin story copies Selina Kyle/Catwoman's backstory from the second film, as both backstories involve a shy scientist discovering her boss's evil plans and he tries to kill her, but she revives and transforms into a villain.
- Barbara Pennyworth/Batgirl barely contributes to the plot, and thus there is no need for her to be in the movie.
- Pointless subplots such as Barbara's motorcycling hobby, Alfred's sickness, and Wayne's plans with his girlfriend. On the topic of Bruce Wayne's girlfriend, she is bland, underdeveloped, and unnecessary, not to mention doesn't even have a role in the movie.
- This film is best known for killing careers (e.g. Uma Thurman, Chris O'Donnell, Alicia Silverstone) of many people who were involved in this film. Uma Thurman however rebounded with the Kill Bill film series thankfully.
- Almost all the vehicles in the film look really cool to look at.
- The special effects are good, especially since most of them are practical with a small touch of CGI.
- The outfits are nicely done (if it weren't for the fact that they put Batnipples and Batasses on the superhero suits).
- The late Joel Schumacher thankfully apologized to angry Batman fans for ruining the film's franchise.
- This movie can make for a great comedy if not taken literally.
- The franchise would eventually get back on track when Christopher Nolan revived and rebooted it in 2005 with Batman Begins.
The Trailer for Batman & Robin
The Trailer for Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero
Behind the Scenes
George Clooney Apologizes for The Movie
Reviews and Top 10s
Batman & Robin received negative reviews from critics, audiences, and fans alike, and is considered to be one of the worst movies of all time and the worst film of the Batman films. The film holds a 12% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 93 reviews, with a critic consensus that reads "Joel Schumacher's tongue-in-cheek attitude hits an unbearable limit in Batman & Robin, resulting in a frantic and mindless movie that's too jokey to care much for." Metacritic scores the film a 28/100, based on reviews from 21 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Batman & Robin opened up at #1 on its opening weekend with a gross of $42,872,605. It would later make a domestic gross of $107,325,195. In overseas box offices, it made $130,881,927. Overall, Batman & Robin made $238,207,122 against its $125 million budget and was a box office disappointment.
Awards and nominations
Batman & Robin was nominated for 10 Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture, but it only won one for Alicia Silverstone as Worst Supporting Actress. Despite the nominations, Batman & Robin won a Kid's Choice Award for Alicia Silverstone as Favorite Actress.
Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero
In 1998, a year after Batman & Robin was released, Warner Brothers released an animated film with Batman, Robin and Mr. Freeze called Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, which was a sequel to the 1993 theatrical film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. SubZero was originally supposed to be released in theaters, but Warner Brothers decided not to release the film in theaters due to the negative reception that Batman & Robin got, and decided to release it on home video to avoid making more fans angry. The similarities and differences between the Batman & Robin Mr. Freeze and the one in SubZero? The Batman & Robin version was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and used a ton of corny one-liners and ice puns, while the SubZero Mr. Freeze didn't use any ice puns or corny one-liners and instead acted more like a serious villain. However, both versions had the same backstory that the Batman & Robin version had. The other difference? The SubZero Mr. Freeze was played by the late Michael Ansara, who also voiced him in Batman: The Animated Series. In contrast to Batman & Robin, SubZero was well-received by both critics and fans alike.
- There were originally plans for a fifth Batman film to be released in 1999 titled Batman Unchained (or Triumphant); its premise was intended to have Batman battle the Scarecrow and Harley Quinn (who is changed to being the Joker's daughter and a toymaker) while hallucinating the Joker from the first film. However, plans for the fifth film and all future live-action Batman films were put on hold due to George Clooney stating that he despised playing Batman and the negative reception Batman & Robin received from critics, audiences, and fans alike. Eight years after said the movie failed, Warner Bros. rebooted the franchise in 2005 with the theatrically-released film Batman Begins, which featured elements from the cancelled sequel (including the Scarecrow from the planned fifth film) and received more praise from critics and fans alike.
- There was another proposal for a fifth film titled Batman: DarKnight, which originally had Man-Bat replacing Harley Quinn as the second villain of said fifth film and was to have a connection with Scarecrow when they were rivaled colleagues at Arkham Asylum.
- George Clooney, Arnold Schwarzenegger and everyone else involved in the film apologized to fans of the original Batman film series and general fans of the character alike.
- Arnold also said he regretted or didn't care about being in a few movies, including Last Action Hero, another movie with mixed reviews.
- If it wasn't for the failure of this film, we would've never gotten Christopher Nolan's Batman reboot film series titled The Dark Knight trilogy.