Ask any fan about their favorite person to don the cowl and play Batman, and “Val Kilmer” is likely to rank somewhere between “that guy who got body-slammed on the Las Vegas strip” and “George Clooney.” Ask director Joel Schumacher—as one IFC reporter did during a Trespass press conference—and you’ll get a not entirely unsurprising response: “For me, Val Kilmer was the best Batman,” Schumacher replied, having conducted a scientific poll of Joel Schumachers and received a 100-percent positive rating for his own Batman Forever, with a margin of error of +/- one Joel Schumacher. Somewhat redundantly pressed to explain his position, Schumacher continued, “I thought he looked great in the costume, and I thought he brought a depth to the role. I thought the relationship between Val and Nicole Kidman was very sexy.”
Of course, no one is arguing Schumacher’s “sexy” defining of Kilmer and Kidman’s fire-starting chemistry—in that it was essentially two sticks rubbing together—given that Schumacher’s efforts to sex up Batman guaranteed that no story about him would ever be written that didn’t spur an involuntary, Tourette’s-like bark of “bat-nipples!” But as Entertainment Weekly notes, it’s something of a reversal of opinion for Schumacher, considering he and Kilmer reportedly got into a scuffle on set and were repeatedly at odds, leading to Kilmer leaving the franchise, and Schumacher giving postmortem interviews where he accused Kilmer of being “the most psychologically troubled human being I’ve ever worked with.” Of course, this could all be a matter of perspective, seeing as Schumacher is now forced to “take full responsibility” for the much, much worse follow-up, Batman & Robin, and also seeing as since then he’s made two movies with Nicolas Cage. Had he gotten his wish to have Cage play the Scarecrow in his third, aborted Batman film, he may have reached this conclusion a lot sooner.