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In the history of live-action adaptations of Batman, a total of nine actors have portrayed the Dark Knight (not including those who’ve only portrayed him as a child and those who’ve portrayed him in TV series and not in movies). Most of them have had at least two stints as the Caped Crusader, with some having more and some having just one stint. This article is going to be just one in our series on the Batman actors, where we are going analyse each actor’s tenure as the Dark Knight. Today, the topic is going to be – George Clooney.
George Clooney appeared just once in the role of Batman, in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin (1997). Thankfully, we only had to see this horror once.
DC Comics, for those of you that are not familiar with the story behind the comics, is a major American comic book publisher founded back in 1934. Along with Marcel Comics, it is the most popular comic book publisher in the United States. DC Comics is a major player in the comic book business and is the “home” of many famous comic book characters such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and many others.
Now that we’ve given you a short introduction, let us discuss the topic of this article in more detail.
How many times did George Clooney play Batman?
Due to the box office success of Batman Forever, Warner Bros. ordered another sequel with Joel Schumacher returning as director. Val Kilmer was supposed to reprise his role, but he eventually declined, citing his engagement on the movie The Saint as a reason, but it was revealed that Schumacher and Kilmer had a difficult working relationship. This is when George Clooney stepped in, replacing Kilmer for the movie Batman & Robin, which was his first and, thankfully, last appearance in the role.
When did George Clooney play Batman?
Now that we’ve established that George Clooney played Batman in just one movie, let us talk about the horror and abomination that was Batman & Robin:
Batman & Robin (1997)
Despite not getting praise from the critics, Batman Forever was a box office success and Warner Bros. decided to other another sequel. Schumacher returned to direct and Chris O’Donnell returned as Robin, but Val Kilmer declined to return.
Schumacher admitted he had difficulty working with Kilmer on Forever. “He sort of quit,” Schumacher said, “and we sort of fired him.” Schumacher would later go on to say that Kilmer wanted to work on The Island of Dr. Moreau because Marlon Brando was cast in the film. Kilmer said he was not aware of the fast-track production and was already committed to The Saint (1997). Schumacher originally had a strong interest in casting William Baldwin in Kilmer’s place, but George Clooney was cast instead. Schumacher believed Clooney could provide a lighter interpretation of the character than Michael Keaton (in Batman and Batman Returns) and Kilmer.
And, he ultimately did, but that didn’t turn out as planned. The movie’s villains were Mr. Freeze (played by a horrible and completely inappropriate Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman turned in a solid performance), with Bane being a secondary villain. The script was so horrible that it still pains us to think of the bad jokes and puns that were intended to make the film lighter (as if the overuse of camp wasn’t enough to lighten the tone) and the finished product was a complete abomination and a slap in the face that ultimately killed off the first series of Batman films.
And don’t even get us started on the friggin’ nippled suits…
How was this movie received?
Just when you though that Schumacher couldn’t really do worse than Batman Forever and that the sequel was going to be just as bland, the guy actually surprised us all and managed to make an even worse film that completely ruined everything. And that, kids, is how Joel Schumacher “killed” Batman. Joker wasn’t able to do it, but this guy does…
Batman & Robin (1997)
We have to be sincere here – Batman & Robin was panned by critics and there was really a small number of people that managed to find anything good in it. It is not only the worst Batman movie ever, but one of the worst superhero movies ever made. And the critics’ comments reflect that.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times criticized the toyetic approach and Mr. Freeze’s one-liner jokes in his “thumbs down” review of the film. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times believed the film “killed” the Batman film series. Desson Howe of The Washington Post disapproved of Schumacher’s direction and Akiva Goldsman’s script, as well as the returning costume design from the first film. Mick LaSalle, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, said, “George Clooney is the big zero of the film, and should go down in history as the George Lazenby of the series.”
However, Janet Maslin of The New York Times gave a more positive review, and praised Uma Thurman’s performance.
Andrew Johnston, writing in Time Out New York, remarked, “It’s hard to tell who B&R is intended for. Anyone who knows the character from the comics or the superb animated show on Fox will be alienated. And though Schumacher treats the Adam West version as gospel, that show’s campy humor is completely incompatible with these production values.”
Even Clooney himself has spoken critically of the film, saying in 2005, “I think we might have killed the franchise”, and called it “a waste of money”.
How was George Clooney received as Batman?
Horribly. That is the best way to answer this question. Clooney’s Batman was not just a visual horror (the nipples still haunt us), but also a badly written abomination that had nothing to do with Batman, even if you consider the campy Adam West version to be an inspiration. Everything that could have been done wrong here was done wrong and George Clooney will be remembered as the worst Batman ever until someone, possibly (but we hope not, as we fear what something worse than this would look like), manages to come up with something worse at a later date.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!