Following the passing of filmmaker Joel Schumacher earlier this year, attention was turned towards his highest-profile productions, namely Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, resulting in reports emerging that an extended cut of Forever existed, but Variety claims that their sources at Warner Bros. revealed there have been no discussions about releasing the 170-minute cut of the film. The studio did confirm that Schumacher did shoot much more material than what made it into the final cut, with some of those deleted scenes making their way onto the film's home video releases, though they were unaware if the original footage had been preserved in good enough quality to ever be edited back into the theatrical cut of the picture.
Batman Forever marked a seismic shift for the live-action franchise, as the first two films came from director Tim Burton, displaying a macabre whimsy that was a signature trait of the filmmaker. Schumacher was tasked with honoring that style, while also offering his own interpretations of the source material, allowing the next film to dive deeper into a campy tone.
Variety describes that Schumacher's original cut of the film opens "with a sequence involving the villain Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) escaping from Arkham Asylum, and features extended scenes with the Riddler (Jim Carrey) when he invades the Batcave and uses his signature cane as a weapon. The bulk of this version’s run time focuses on the emotional and psychological issues that led Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer) to decide to become Batman, including a sequence of Wayne facing down a giant, human-sized bat."
Remnants of these sequences remain in the final film, though Carrey's campy performance as Riddler and the introduction of Chris O'Donnell's Robin get more screen time. FatMan Beyond co-host Marc Bernadin shared what he knew about the cut on the podcast earlier this month, igniting interest in the extended cut.
While reports of extended, abandoned, and director's cuts of films have gone back decades, there has been a major surge in audience interest in uncovering such projects in recent years, thanks largely to filmmaker Zack Snyder and his Justice League from 2017. With the director stepping away from the film due to a family tragedy before production completed, he distanced himself from the theatrical version of the film entirely, with his fans campaigning for the release of the "Snyder Cut" of the film in the years since its release. Despite Warner Bros. regularly casting doubt on such a cut existing or any alternative version of the film ever getting an official public release, Snyder himself revealed that his own vision of the story would be coming to HBO Max in 2021.
It's unknown what Zack Snyder's Justice League will look like when it lands on the service, with some reports thinking the sprawling project could be broken up into an episodic format, but with the studio reneging their comments about it never being released, it's possible that there's still hope for the extended cut of Batman Forever to be unveiled at some point in the future.
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