Release the Schumacher Cut, You Cowards

Harvey Dent showing off his good side.
Harvey Dent showing off his good side.
Image: Warner Bros.

After years of getting the fandom riled up about the idea of a Snyder Cut of Justice League, Warner Bros. saw fit to move forward with the production of the film for an upcoming release on HBO Max next year. The decision was surprising if only for the fact that Warner Bros. had previously denied that such a cut ever existed, which seems to be the case given that the film is still in the production process.

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With the Snyder Cut actually on its way into the light of day and in the wake of Joel Schumacher’s recent death, a new report from Variety raises the interesting idea as to whether Warner Bros. might ever consider releasing the rumored director’s cut of Schumacher’s Batman Forever, the first in his pair of Batman films that ushered in a new era for Gotham camp.

According to Variety, this alternate cut to the 25-year-old film features a much, much more grim tone compared to the theatrical release, and takes special care to dig deeper into the psychological trauma that led to Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. Rather than merely showing the audience the fateful night the Martha and Thomas Wayne were gunned down in an alley, the director’s cut of Batman Forever is said to instead spotlight a moment when Bruce, in some sort of state, fights a massive, human-sized bat.

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The director’s cut is also said to include more scenes of Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face just as he’s breaking free of Arkham Asylum and setting out on his crime spree, as well as scenes in which Jim Carrey’s Riddler causes chaos in the Batcave. Much like the Snyder Cut, the supposed director’s cut of Batman Forever would likely need a fair amount of post-production in order to get into into releasable shape, but unlike the more recent DC movie, Batman Forever occupies a rather significant space in Batman’s larger cinematic history.

Much as Schumacher’s take on Gotham was dragged by the general public when Batman Forever and Batman & Robin were first released, the longterm impact they had on the discourse about cape movies is undeniable, and it would be fascinating to see a version of this film that might have potentially catered more to the grimdark tastes of people who couldn’t handle Schumacher’s whimsy.

If Warner Bros. has the footage laying around, they’d have nothing to lose by cleaning it up and releasing it to the public, and depending on what else Schumacher might have wanted to incorporate into the story, Batman Forever could end up enjoying a rather fascinating second life.

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io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.

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DISCUSSION

YES. I feel seen. Batman Forever has a lot of interesting things going for it, especially when you consider how it took apart the tragedy of Batman in a way that the previous films hadn’t. It doesn’t all work, but there’s a lot to appreciate, and all the deleted scenes make me appreciate what more of an ambitious, more darker film it was. Anyone who loved Batman v Superman should realize it owes some of its more interesting Batman scenes to Forever (which did the giant bat metaphor on-screen first and better imo). Without the deleted scenes, Batman Forever is a fun, dramatic, greatly campy, and occasionally poetic movie. With them, it’s even more interesting.

Honestly, Batman & Robin is fun too in its camp way, and after so many of them it’s clearly far from the worst comic book movie. It’s definitely time we re-evaluate these movies and appreciate the interesting choices made by an interesting filmmaker. Look at Schumacher’s Gotham City, one that’s so wild and neo-noir, and don’t tell me it’s not iconic when Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey, and more owe their aesthetic partially to it. Patrick Willems did a great video on the Schumacher films a while back and I recommend checking it out.