Perhaps it’s director Joel Schumacher’s advancing years – he’s now 77 – but it appears that he’s decided now is the right time to talk about the nipples in ‘Batman & Robin’.
His lurid take on the Dark Knight arrived in a hail of neon in 1997, to critical loathing and commercial disaster.
But it was the introduction of the new batsuit – resplendent with rubberised nipples – that has become the movie’s lasting bête noire.
In an expansive interview with Vice, Schumacher said that he thought they were ‘cool’ at the time.
“It’s going to be on my tombstone, I know it,” he said of the nips.
“[The decision] was made by Jose Fernandez, who was our brilliant lead sculpture. If you look at ‘Batman’ and ‘Batman Returns’, it was the genius, Bob Ringwood that created those suits, so by the time we got to’Batman Forever’, the rubber and techniques had gotten so sophisticated.
“If you look at when Michael Keaton appears in the first suit, you’ll notice how large it is. It was brilliant but the best they could do at the time. By the time ‘Batman Forever’ came around, rubber molding had become so much more advanced.
“So I said, let’s make it anatomical and gave photos of those Greek status and those incredible anatomical drawings you see in medical books. He did the nipples and when I looked at them, I thought, that’s cool.”
Sadly, they were not.
But Schumacher doesn’t blame anyone else for the failure of the movie – which saw George Clooney taking over the cowl from Val Kilmer, Chris O’Donnell as Robin, Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the risible Mr Freeze.
“Look, I apologize. I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that,” he added.
He went on to say that the failure of the movie almost cost him his career.
“I had a batting average of 1,000, so I went from falling down a bit after ‘Lost Boys’, to a kind of a genius with ‘The Client’, a big blockbuster with ‘Batman Forever’, then had great reviews with ‘A Time to Kill’, so my batting average was good.
“I never planned on being, that dreadful quote, ‘a blockbuster king’ because my other films were much smaller and had just found success with the audience and not often with the critics, which is really why we wrote them.
“And then after ‘Batman & Robin’, I was scum. It was like I had murdered a baby.”
“Look, I’m a very big boy. I take full responsibility,” he added.
“I walked into it with my eyes open and what I really feel bad about is the crew. We all know how great movie crews are. The special effects, stunt people, and everybody that breaks their asses along with the cast. Everybody worked really hard under very long hours. So I feel like their work wasn’t acknowledged like it could have been.”
The nipples didn’t sink the movie, of course, but sink it did, making $238 million from its $125 million, a whopping loss after marketing and advertising costs.