There’s been so much talk of past-Batman movies over the past couple of days I seriously doubt it’d all fit in Chris O’Donnell’s colossal Boy-Wonder codpiece.
Joel Schumacher has been out and about stumping his new film “Trespass”, which gets a limited theatrical bow before heading down to the DVD pound, and the topic of his controversial history with the “Batman” film series came up.
Schumacher, though a fairly top-notch director in my opinion (see “Flatliners”, “The Lost Boys” and “Tigerland” for proof), really dropped the ball on “Batman Forever” but mostly, “Batman & Robin”. But as he tells it, Warners had his balls in a tightly-wenched pair of nutcrackers and if he had have made a movie and not a toy commercial they might have signalled for the monkey to squeeze.
Even before “Batman & Robin” was in the can, Warners had assigned Schumacher the task of doing a fifth “Batman” movie, “Batman Triumphant”. The film, as most comic book movie nuts know, would’ve seen the Caped Crusader going cowl to head with The Scarecrow. According to the filmmaker, his first and only choice for that role was Nicolas Cage, his “Tresspass” star. And the doozie? Jack Nicholson was coming back to cameo as ‘The Joker’.
Speaking to The Playlist, Schumacher explained what he had in mind for the film and how it collapsed :
“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 Frank Miller comic] ‘The Dark Knight [Returns],’ but they wanted a family friendly, toyetic thing.” Eventually, “Batman And Robin” came along, souring everyone on the franchise, and, just like that, Schumacher’s relationship with Warner Bros. dissolved, leaving behind both the “Batman” series and a third John Grisham adaptation, “Runaway Jury” (later made over at 20th Century Fox by Gary Fleder). However, Schumacher got his man soon after, as he and Cage teamed for “8MM,” which Schumacher figured, “would be the furthest thing from a summer movie.”
He ruefully adds, “And I gave up a lot of money, but, no regrets.” Not that he’s hurting for cash, as he notes, “I have awards for selling more Batman toys than anyone in the world.” In regards to “Batman and Robin,” he was convinced he made “the wrong choice” but says, “I did my job. It was more family friendly and it sold a lot of toys, and it supported the Warner Bros. stores. But I did disappoint a lot of fans.”
I think the only sad part of “Batman Triumphant” not coming together is that we didn’t get the chance to see Jack Nicholson reprise his ‘Joker’ role. That would’ve been a treat. Alas, it wasn’t to be… and mostly, sans Nicholson cameo proposal, I’m pleased.
Before Christopher Nolan got the “Batman Begins” gig, Darren Aronofsky briefly floated with resurrecting the Caped Crusader. While developing “Batman Year One”, Aronofsky gave Schumacher a buzz and asked him for advice.
Schumacher tells Cinema Blend :
I remember my friend Darren Aronofsky called me– I think he was toying with them about making a Batman movie, which I would have loved to have seen. And he called me and asked me what it would be like, and I said “I don’t know Darren, I can’t advise you. I was supporting the Warner Bros. studio, the toy manufacturers. My goal was to get a family friendly movie that kids could be taken to that would sell a lot of merchandise. The movies make hundreds of millions, but the toys make billions. I was in that business, and I said “Darren, my job was to offer merchandising.”
I’d still be interested in seeing Aronofsky’s version; you guys?