There’s no shortage of topics when discussing Joel Schumacher’s 1997 film Batman & Robin: its over-the-top villains, pun-laden dialogue, Bat-credit card, casting, the list goes on and on. But 20 years later, the number one topic still has to be the Bat-Nipples.
Or, more specifically, the choice by Schumacher to give star George Clooney a new Batsuit with distractingly large nipples on it.
In a great interview with Vice, Schumacher talks all about the development, reception, and legacy of Batman & Robin. He says after the film was released he was treated “like I had murdered a baby.” Things have cooled from that level of venom since then, but the topic of Bat-Nipples is still as perky as ever.
Here’s how the director—whose filmography also includes The Lost Boys, A Time to Kill, and Phone Booth—recalls the fateful costuming choice:
[The costume] 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.
Schumacher then admits, all these years later, he never thought such a seemingly tiny decision would get the reaction it did.
I really never thought that would happen. I really didn’t. Maybe I was just naive, but I’m still glad we did it.
It’s a great interview, well worth reading in full, but the main takeaway might be Schumacher’s a surprisingly frank reaction to how history looks back at Batman & Robin.
Look, I apologize. I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that.
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