March 16, 2016

The Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman Movies

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This week, the guys sat down to watch what started the resurgence of the superhero film genre, and then, a few films later, almost destroyed it again. And then they talked about all four of the Batman movies that were directed by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher. What followed was a deep, darkening spiral into a world where comic book canon was ignored with a vigor hitherto unknown to the filmgoing public. Batman was murdering like it was no big deal, Batgirl was Alfred's niece, Arnold Schwarzenegger was encased in plastic, teenager Dick Grayson was a 26-year-old manchild who called the butler "Al", and Tommy Lee Jones turned in a more manic performance than Jim Carrey.

What, it should be asked, the hell?

These aren't the Batman movies you want; but they are the Batman movies you deserve.
Starting out with 1989's Batman, it is quickly established that "Dark and Moody" was going to be the tone for these films. An angry public cried out at the selection of Michael Keaton to play everybody's favorite rubber-clad billionaire, but was slightly mollified by the addition of Jack Nicholson as the Joker, and all it cost Warner Brothers was a fuckton of money (which they quickly made back) and top billing. Throw in Kim Basinger and Jack Palance, nail some old Prince outtakes and a new dance track to it, and you've got yourself a party!

Hot on the heels of that money-making juggernaut came Danny DeVito stuffing dead fish into his mouth in 1992's Batman Returns.

What's that now?
Oh sure, Michael Keaton returned to play the hero, Michelle Pfeiffer looked hot as heck in the Catwoman suit, and Here Be Spoilers favorite Christopher Walken made some bold hair choices, but the real star of the show was DeVito, who chewed scenery with almost as much gusto as he put into trying to make the collective viewing audience throw up in their mouths. It's gross.

This, but, like, 130 feet wide. Drink it in.
For 1995's Batman Forever, neither Keaton nor Burton returned. Keaton took a pass on this one when Burton handed off the franchise to his dark minion, Joel Schumacher. So the search was on for a new Dark Knight, and Schumacher decided to dial back the intensity quite a bit, choosing to have Val Kilmer play the part as though he were made entirely of plywood. And as his love interest, it seemed only right that the part of Chase Meridian be played by Nicole Kidman, but as if she were half sloth.

I'm Batman...
The villains this time around were way more colorful and manic, with Jim Carrey as the Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face. The most stunning thing about these choices (aside from Jones's deep dislike of Carrey), is that Tommy Lee Jones turns in a more energetic performance than everyone else combined. It should be noted, however, that this takes nothing away from Carrey's performance, which Derek considers one of his best.

Aww, shucks!
It should also be noted that, as the guys move further into these films, the worse they get. And the worse they get, the less the guys want to talk about them. This is important to remember as you listen, because it brings us to...

1997's Batman and Robin.

Kilmer's out, and George Clooney is in. Chris O'Donnell returns as Dick Grayson/Robin, and Alicia Silverstone' comes in hot as Barbara Pennyworth -- Alfred's niece. Take a moment to let that sink in, because it made the guys really angry. Although not nearly as angry as casting Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. In fact, it's not even the casting, so much as it is the costuming choices made for them, as well as the rest of the actors in the movie.

Everything wrong with Batman and Robin in one convenient photo.
Nothing about this movie is good. Oh, there were possibilities out the wazoo, but none of them came to fruition, and everyone was left feeling as though they had been lightly assaulted. And so, because of this, the guys spend almost no time talking about it, and they are happy with that choice.

Derek absolutely hates whoever it was that designed Poison Ivy's costumes. It's like they never even met Uma Thurman or, you know, looked at her. He also argues in favor of George Clooney returning to play "old guy Batman" in the future, because he's one of the few actors out there who can play Bruce Wayne without any effort at all.

Jake is angry about how the franchise was pretty much destroyed by committee after Tim Burton walked. He also worries about Batman's junk, and what sort of chafing issues might arise from wearing a rubber muscle suit for hours at a time. (Hint: Talcum powder is probably bought in 50-gallon drums.)

Larry is all over the place on this one, but in a good way. He makes some of the funniest jokes he's made in a while, and even jumps in for a bit of improvised executive meetings to discuss casting Batman and Robin.

There's also some stuff in The Lobby, a new Pee-Wee Herman movie Coming Soon, quotes in Larry's List, shameless bragging while Jake-ing Off, and work pranks when the guys go Inside My Head!

So polish up your rubber codpiece, pull on your cowl, and tune in!