Ignore the Bat-nipples. Put the codpieces back in your pants, and stow your rage until you’ve read the whole article. Watch the movie again a little less critically, and a little more for enjoyment. The Schumacher/Burton Batman films represented something much bigger when they came out, than they do now. They represented first time we had seen Batman in film since Adam West’s portrayal in 1966. for twenty years comic book movie fans had to put up with things like this:
Unless you were a Superman fan, that is. (Superman fans get a movie for every decade they’ve lived, and an origin story for every three. I think its some kind of contractual obligation) We know that, looking back, Batman and superman films are historically very profitable for DC, so no matter how campy and silly we find Batman Forever, there are a ton of reasons to love it now.
Tommy Lee Jones was great casting for Harvey at the time. Jones traditionally plays the tough, no-nonsense authority figure in his films. His best roles, and most typical characters are men of law and order, with his most iconic role as US Marshall Samuel Gerard in “The Fugitive.” In this way, Jones’s own filmography gives a sort of back-story for Two-Face. When Tommy Lee Jones is on the screen, as an iconic actor, he is immediately associated with his history of law enforcement characters. On the unfortunate side of things, Tommy Lee Jones seems to almost feed off of Jim Carey at times. Jones picks up that insane energy and transforms Two-Face into a spastic, Jim Carey-esque version of himself, which changes the tone of the character quite a bit. We lose the seriousness that Jones could bring to the character, and instead we have a Two-Face whose personality blends into the Riddler’s. So, Tommy Lee Jones could have been the perfect Two-Face. He just…wasn’t.
On the other hand, the Riddler is quite possibly the best thing about this movie. A lot of fans prefer the serious, methodical Riddler that shows up in “Batman: The Animated Series” but the character can also be portrayed as the high energy, crazy character that Jim Carey is perfect for. Frank Gorshin’s Riddler had the same high energy personality, and even a similar laugh. Carey’s manic portrayal is not just valid, but is the classic characterization of the Riddler. The costumes are a bit over-the-top, but that is right in line with the character’s absurd behavior, and many different Riddler costumes have shown up throughout the years.
However, Schumacher spent such little build up on the riddles that they seemed simplistic and obvious. In reality, each clue was developed by Will Shortz, puzzle master for the New York Times Crossword. The clues, which could have caused anyone a little grief, are instead solved in only a few seconds. This makes the riddles look simple, and completely deflates the drama from the situation.
On the side of good, we have Robin as a new addition to the films. Robin was bound to show up eventually, and Chris O’Donnel did not do terribly. But, O’Donnel was simply too old for the character. There is no sense in making Dick Grayson a ward of Bruce Wayne if Dick is in his early thirties. However, If Grayson had been introduced to the batman universe even one film earlier, he could have been much younger. Viewers could have watched the evolution of Robin, and in the next film, O’Donnel could portray a much older “Nightwing.” The age, the attitude, even the costume fit Nightwing’s comic book persona. In truth, O’Donnel could have been a great Nightwing, bringing the character more into the mainstream.
Despite its flaws, there are some positives to Batman Forever. The film marks the first appearance of Arkham Asylum, and of Harvey Dent in a live action film. The characters and the acting still show great potential. Schumacher still held on to the dark adult atmosphere of the Tim Burton Era, and best of all, no “ice” puns. I’m not saying Batman Forever is by any means a great film, but all the potential in this one movie more than makes up for a costume with nipples on it.