Batman & Robin is a 1997 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character Batman directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Akiva Goldsman. It is the fourth and final film of Warner Bros.' initial Batman film series. Batman & Robin was released on June 20, 1997 to extremely negative reviews. Subsequently, Warner Bros. cancelled a planned fifth film, Batman Unchained (see in Cancelled Sequel section), after the studio was disappointed by the film's box office returns, which failed to outgross its three predecessors.
Batman (George Clooney) and Robin (Chris O'Donnel) fail to stop Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from stealing a cache of diamonds. They learn that Mr. Freeze was once a scientist named Victor Fries, who became dependent on a diamond-powered subzero suit following an accident in a cryogenics lab while working to save his wife, Nora, from a terminal illness called MacGregor's Syndrome.
Meanwhile, botanist Dr. Pamela Isley (Uma Thurman) is experimenting with the strength serum "Venom" to create mutant plants capable of fighting back against mankind in a laboratory located in South America. She is angry that her senior colleague Dr. Jason Woodrue used her Venom to transform a diminutive prisoner into the "super soldier" Bane. She refuses to partner with Dr. Woodrue so he tries to kill her with animal-plant toxins and chemicals, causing her to transform into the beautiful and deadly Poison Ivy. She kills Dr. Woodrue with a venomous kiss and vows to establish botanical supremacy over the world.
Alfred Pennyworth's niece Barbara Wilson makes a surprise visit from England and is invited to stay at Wayne Manor. Later, Barbara finds the Batcave and creates her own crime-fighting persona with the help of a computer simulation of Alfred. The real Alfred is suffering from MacGregor's Syndrome. He is, however, in the early stages of the disease for which Mr. Freeze has developed a cure despite being unable to cure his wife's condition because it is too advanced.
Ivy arrives in Gotham City with Bane as her henchman. She interrupts a Wayne Enterprises press conference at the Gotham Observatory where a giant telescope is being unveiled. Poison Ivy demands Bruce Wayne use his fortune to safeguard the natural environment at the expense of millions of human lives, and Bruce refuses.
Poison Ivy appears at the Gotham Botanical Gardens fundraiser, seducing everyone present with her pheromone dust, including the Dynamic Duo, who are there to protect a diamond from Mr. Freeze. When Mr. Freeze crashes the event, Poison Ivy is instantly captivated by his "ruthless charm." Mr. Freeze is captured by Batman and detained at the Arkham Asylum, but is soon broken out by Poison Ivy and Bane.
Poison Ivy turns off Nora Fries' life support and makes Mr. Freeze believe Batman did it, persuading him that they should destroy Batman along with the society that created him. They plan to turn the observatory's new telescope into a giant freeze ray to kill all of humanity to allow Poison Ivy's mutant plants to take over the world.
Meanwhile, Robin is under Poison Ivy's seductive spell and is rebelling against Batman. Robin goes to meet Poison Ivy at her garden hide-out where her venomous kiss fails to kill Robin because Batman had persuaded him to coat his lips with rubber. Poison Ivy tries to drown Robin in her lily pond and entangles Batman in her crushing vines, but they are able to free themselves when Batgirl arrives and traps Poison Ivy her own floral throne.
Batgirl reveals herself as Barbara. The three crime-fighters arrive at the Observatory to stop Mr. Freeze who has already frozen all of Gotham. Bane attacks Robin and Batgirl, but they incapacitate him and restore him to his original human state. Robin and Batgirl save Gotham by using the observatory's satellites to reflect sunlight from outer space to thaw the city.
Batman shows Mr. Freeze video proof that Poison Ivy pulled the plug on Nora and reveals that he, Batman, was the one who saved her. He reveals that Mr. Freeze will be allowed to continue his research at Arkham Asylum to cure Nora. Batman asks Mr. Freeze for his cure for the early stages of MacGregor's Syndrome for Alfred and Mr. Freeze atones for his misdeeds by giving him two vials of the medicine.
At Arkham, Poison Ivy is joined in her cell by Mr. Freeze, who vows to exact revenge on her for what she did to his wife. Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred is cured and Bruce invites Barbara to live with them, joining Batman and Robin to fight crime as Batgirl.
- Unbelievably bad one-liners on Arnold Schwarzenegger's part (like a majority of the rest of the people behind the film, he regrets starring in the film).
- Chris O'Donnell's acting is that of a spoiled brat and an all-around moron.
- Blatant plotholes.
- Slow and uninterested acting on everyone's part (especially George Clooney as Batman).
- Poison Ivy went from being a flexible scientist to a one-note villain.
- Bane is portrayed as being incredibly stupid, in stark contrast to his comic book counterpart who has genius-level intellect.
- The first two films had a very dark and serious tone, and while the third film was a bit lighthearted, it had its dark moments as well. This film however, is way too colorful and campy. This would be excusable if it was made in the 1960s - but not in the 1990s!
- Batman, despite being very rich, has A BAT CREDIT CARD!
- Numerous homosexual innuendos.
- Just like its predecessor, Batman and Robin's costumes have Batnipples and Batbutts.
- The film has a more syrupy comical tone than a serious tone for a superhero film.
- Most fans thought that George Clooney made a poor Batman and Clooney himself even admitted that he despised playing Batman and years after starring in this film, he refuses to talk to people about how awful he felt playing Batman and most people don't blame him for being unhappy about it.
- The film spawned a crappy video game for the PlayStation that got an unofficial release for the Game.com.
Good Qualities (that make this film criminally overhated)
- Had it not been for this movie’s poor performance, Warner Bros. would never have rebooted the film series with Batman Begins.
- Uma Thurman and Michael Gough's performances as Poison Ivy and Alfred respectively are actually pretty good.
- While the film mostly treats Mr. Freeze as a joke, it keeps his sympathetic backstory from the classic Batman: The Animated Series episode "Heart of Ice" intact.
- Mr. Freeze is quite intimidating in some scenes, such as his very first freezing of a man (before a corny one-liner kills the mood), his enraged breakdown after learning his wife is apparently dead, and his last scene where he threatens Poison Ivy in Arkham Asylum.
- Despite the sickeningly colorful visuals, Batman & Robin is actually reminiscent of the Mall of America at times.
- Some of the action scenes are pretty good.
- Almost all the vehicles in the film look really cool.
- The special effects are good, especially since most of them are practical with a small touch of CGI.
- The outfits are nicely done (if it weren't for the fact that they put Batnipples and Batasses on the superhero suits).
- The ending is very heartwarming.
- Joel Schumacher and pretty much everyone else involved in the film apologized to angry Batman fans.
- The film spawned a far better animated direct-to-video film (see below) that was made by the same people who worked on the critically-acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series.
- The science talk clearly shows some intelligence.
Batman & Robin was panned by critics, audiences and fans alike. The film currently holds a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes with an average of 3.7 out of 10 and a critic consensus that reads "Joel Schumacher's tongue-in-cheek attitude hits an unbearable limit in Batman & Robin resulting in a frantic and mindless movie that's too jokey to care much for." Film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave the film a two thumbs down. Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan stated in his review, "The film's look is all that money can buy, and, as always with blockbuster wannabes like this, it's a shame that money can't buy even more." However, some positive reviews came from several critics including Ed Grant of Common Sense Media, who gave the film a 3 out of 5 stars and stated in his review, "Same bat-time, same bat-movie."
Batman & Robin opened up at #1 on its opening weekend with a gross of $14,612. It would later make a domestic gross of $107,325,195. In overseas box offices, it made $130,881,927. Overall, Batman & Robin made $238,207,122 against its $125 million budget and was a box office disappointment.
Awards and nominations
Batman & Robin was nominated for 10 Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture, but it only won one for Alicia Silverstone as Worst Supporting Actress. Despite the nominations, Batman & Robin won a Kid's Choice Award for Alicia Silverstone as Favorite Actress.
Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero
In 1998, a year after Batman & Robin was released, Warner Brothers released an animated film with Batman, Robin and Mr. Freeze called Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, which was a sequel to the 1993 theatrical film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. SubZero was originally supposed to be released in theaters, but Warner Brothers decided not to release the film in theaters due to the negative reception that Batman and Robin got and decided to release it on home video in order to avoid making more fans angry. The similarities and differences between the Batman & Robin Mr. Freeze and the one in SubZero? The Batman & Robin version was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and used a ton of corny one-liners and ice puns while the SubZero Mr. Freeze didn't use any ice puns or corny one-liners and instead acted more like a serious villain. However, both versions had the same backstory that the Batman & Robin version had. The other difference? The SubZero Mr. Freeze was played by the late Michael Ansara, who also voiced him in Batman: The Animated Series. In contrast to Batman & Robin, SubZero was well received by both critics and fans alike.
There were originally plans for a fifth Batman film to be released in 1999 originally titled Batman Triumphant and was later retitled Batman Unchained. The premise for Batman Unchained was to have Batman, Robin and Batgirl battle the Scarecrow, who would be played by Nicolas Cage. The film was also going to have flashbacks from the previous films (except Batman & Robin) with appearances by the Joker (from Batman), Two-Face (from Forever) The Penguin (from Returns) Catwoman (also from Returns) and The Riddler (also from Forever). There were even talks of having Madonna play Harley Quinn and possibly have Kurt Russell play Batman since George Clooney refused to return as Batman. However, plans for the fifth film and all future Batman films were put on hold due to George Clooney stating that he despised playing Batman and due to the negative reception this film got from both critics and fans. Eight years after Batman & Robin failed, Warner Brothers rebooted the franchise in 2005 with the theatrically released film Batman Begins which had elements that were originally going to be used in Unchained. Begins was a hit and received more praise from critics and fans alike.