FILM: Batman For-Never

Ok, so we're not diving straight back into blogging about superheroes as we've just come out the other side of Marvel @ Marvel and with 2016 being such a massive year for this genre we will no doubt be back in spandex within a few months.  What we will be doing, here and there, is looking at some of the superhero movies that came close to being made but never were.  The first one is a bit of a cheat.  Batman Forever is a movie that exists!  In fact it was released 20 years ago TODAY, but before Schuey and Kilmer teamed up to neon the streets of Gotham, Burton and MK were set to make it third time's the charm.

Last month we discussed the direction that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was going, how it tied into the existing Batman cinematic realms, and even ways in which its existence could (arguably) improve the weaker and weakest movies from the Caped Crusader's Canon (read Batman v Superman: Two Heroes, Two Worlds, One Trailer here).

Many of the "hands-on" Bat-Fans will be more than aware of the capitalistic politics that went on during development for Batman Forever.  How Warner feared Tim Burton was taking the franchise down uncharted (and dark) waters, and in doing so restricting the film's commercial potential.  Having pushed Burton from Gotham City limits, the WB suits installed Joel Schumacher as helmer.  Michael Keaton quit over the quality of the material, Ice Man took over and Batman Forever delivered the Warner Bros (and most likely sister Dot) the box office smash they'd wanted.  This new dawn was short-lived though.  Arguably, the financial success of Batman Forever was, at least partly, down to the acclaim being generated by Batman Returns.  The lukewarm response to Forever provided a somewhat shaky jumping off point for Batman & Robin -which opened Worldwide on the same day to avoid the negative press (truth) from getting out and killing the franchise.  It killed it anyway, the closest efforts to save the Dark Knight (pre-Batman Begins) being Batman Triumphant (Schumacher's attempt to fix what he'd broken) and Batman Vs Superman 2003 (with Wolfgang Petersen behind the camera).

I stumbled upon this nicely made fan art for what Batman Forever might have been and it has got me thinking.  Michael Keaton behind the cowl is a given.  Robin Williams as Edward Nigma/The Riddler is an extremely interesting piece of casting, especially after watching him in Insomnia and One Hour Photo.  Billy Dee's Harvey Dent was one of the casting choices that really excites me each time I re-watch Batman (1989).  I'm still sad that he didn't get to see out the evolution of his character, as sad as Aaron Eckhart not having more decisions to make with the silver dollar.  With regards to Rene Russo, she's not really a character I'm overly bothered about.  For my money Nicole Kidman did a solid enough job, certainly better than Elle "The Body" as Julie Madison in B&R, but wouldn't Mrs. Burton be an interesting choice here?  The casting huh of the would-be franchise is Marlon Wayans.  I like the idea of having a slightly less obvious Dick Grayson.  Chris O'Donnell is the easy-bake oven of actors, a better choice for that point of the late twentieth century would have been Tobey Maguire, but perhaps a Jennifer Garner (I know, I know, comic book kiss of death) as Robin would have provided a much needed piece of gender equality in Gotham City... and avoided us having to sit through that terrible Barbara Pennyworth (nee Gordon!) performance that Silverstone chewed up and spat out, bones and all.


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