Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Nerdversity Discussion: Batman in Live Action Film (Part 3: Burton and Schumacher)

With Tom Mankiewciz's script considered unsuitable, Batman's fate in the mid 80s seemed uncertain. After Tim Burton had previous success with Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Tim Burton was bought on to direct the new Batman movie. The success of The Dark Knight and The Killing Joke had given Warner renewed interest in making a dark Batman movie as per Uslan's original pitch. Burton himself admitted that he wasn't a comic fan, but loved the darkness in the stories.

Steve Englehart wrote a second treatment in 1986 and cut the amount of characters down, removing Robin from the script. Warner held off actually making the movie until after Beetlejuice had been released. The reason why was simply because Tim Burton had become synonymous with Pee Wee and Keaton with comedy. The 1989 movie was met with fan and critic appraisal and still considered by many to be the most perfect Batman movie ever made. 

After the 1989 movie had proven to be a massive success, Warner were eager to make a sequel and cash in. In the meantime, Tim Burton had gone on to direct Edward Scissorhands. Sam Hamm, who had previously worked on Batman, returned to work on the new script which even included Marlon Wayans as Robin, who was Batman's mechanic. Wayans was cast and even had a fitting, before being dropped. The movie failed to really capture the audience in the same way the 1989 movie had and didn't have the same return at the box office. Parents even complained after McDondalds had put a Happy Meal tie in with the movie.

After the failure per sae of Returns, Warner believed they should have made more on it. One of the problems was that Warner felt the movie wasn't mainstream enough, so they changed the direction of the third movie, They hired Joel Schumacher to make it and demoted Tim Burton to producer, which made him quit. Rene Russo was cast as Dr. Meridian alongside Keaton. However, Keaton didn't approve of the mainstream direction the movie took and quit. Val Kilmer was cast not long after and then Dr, Meridian was recast with Nicole Kidman in the role. Year One was the initial inspiration for the movie, but was deemed too dark. The movie earned more than Returns and was the 2nd most popular movie of 1995, behind Toy Story. It earned a largely even split down the middle between fans, despite critics absolutely destroying it.

With the success of Forever, Warner fasttracked the sequel, Batman and Robin. Instead of a 3 year gap between movies, Batman and Robin was scheduled for a 1997 release. Scheduling conflicts prevented Val Kilmer from reprising his role. The movie was written and made in the same campy style as the 1966 TV series and was panned by critics and fans for this. Due to the failure of the movie, Warner cancelled all their planned sequels.