Look, nobody ever said making a movie was easy. Actually, that’s not true; making a movie would be relatively simple. Making a good movie is a far different matter. And making a big blockbuster film, which involves hundreds—if not thousands—of people, all working in tandem in a massive network of interconnected responsibilities, all trying their damnedest to make a piece of entertainment that can distract you, if only fleetingly, from the endless drudgery of existence? That seems like a very tall order indeed. Which is why Joel Schumacher, director of the 1997 exercise in thinly veiled S&M rubberized bondage play, Batman & Robin, would like to apologize to everyone for making such a shitty movie.
“Look, I apologize,” Schumacher says in a new interview with Vice. “I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that.” The director is relatively candid about the movie’s failings, admitting the decision to tackle the sequel was at least in part due to “some hubris on my part,” and that he mostly feels bad for the crew who worked so hard on a film that didn’t just under-deliver, but delivered a steam pile of cinematic excrement slathered in “cold” puns. “And then after Batman & Robin, I was scum,” he notes, with the kind of subtle understatement to be expected from a man who gave the world a shot of a tight Bat-butt encased in rubber. “It was like I had murdered a baby.”
While he seems to have moved on and learned to ignore being critically savaged for the most part, Schumacher does admit to a bit of an existential crisis moment during the endless worldwide press tour for the film. “So I’m in Rio, cutting the ribbon to yet another toy store with Warner Bros. merchandise and I just thought… what the fuck is going on? So I went on a vacation to Mexico, called my bosses. and told them that I couldn’t do another Batman… I just needed to get out of carrying the summer movie thing, for my own sanity.”
And yes, he does talk about the bat-nipples, saying he gave the designer images of Greek statues for inspiration, and that he honestly thought it looked cool at the time, and is still surprised by the massive backlash. “I really never thought that would happen. I really didn’t,” which is definitely the voice of someone talking about an era when the internet had yet to really come into its own. “Maybe I was just naive, but I’m still glad we did it.”