Kevin Conroy has been the iconic voice of Batman for decades now, becoming synonymous with the character for generations of fans and even, finally, getting a chance to play Bruce Wayne in live action during the recent "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover event on The CW. Now, he has lent that voice to fans hoping to lobby HBO Max to release a rumored extended director's cut of Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever. According to writer, producer, and podcaster Marc Bernardin, a 170-minute cut of the movie exists, but that Warner Bros. has never made a move toward releasing it because they weren't sure whether there was a market for a longer, darker version of a lighthearted, popcorn-movie version of Batman.
The film, in which Val Kilmer played Batman while Chris O'Donnell played Robin, Jim Carrey was The Riddler, and Tommy Lee Jones was Two-Face, was a turning point for the character. When Batman came out in 1989, Tim Burton rebelled against the camp and silliness that most non-comics audiences associated with the character as a result of the wildly popular 1966 Batman TV series. Burton went darker still with Batman Returns, and when Warner Bros. wanted to try something else for the third movie, Schumacher presented a neon-technicolor film, saturated with camp and bringing the spirit of the '60s show to the big screen.
"I am vengeance, I am the night, I am Batman," Conroy begins, on a fan-purchased video from Cameo, a service that connects fans with celebrities willing to make them personalized videos. "And I demand that you release the Schumacher cut. The fans want it, I want it, release the director's cut of Batman Forever. Thank you."
You can see it below.
Special Message from Kevin Conroy@RealKevinConroy wants to see the directors cut of Batman ForeverAugust 16, 2020
The "Schumacher Cut" is one of a pair of movies -- the other being David Ayer's director's cut of Suicide Squad -- that fans are championing following their successful campaign to convince Warner Bros. to let Zack Snyder finish and release his director's cut of Justice League. Earlier this week, we reported on a trio of DC stars who had similarly (either on their own or with a little coaxing from fans on Cameo) spoken out in favor of Ayer's cut of Suicide Squad.
"I have it on pretty good authority that there exists in the Warner Bros. vault a 170-minute cut of Batman Forever," Bernardin told his Fatman Beyond co-host Kevin Smith. "I think that it went much deeper into his childhood psychosis and his mental blocks and that it was a more serious, darker version of that movie that was one of the first assemblies that Joel filed with the studio and they eventually cut it down because they were like 'it's too dark for kids. We gotta sell these Happy Meals, so maybe let's not invest ourselves in the trauma of childhood murder. We've got Jim Carrey, let him do some s--t."
Smith said that while WB might doubt it, he strongly suspects fans would like to see the extended cut, noting that post-laserdisc and DVD, audiences are smart enough to understand the differences between cuts.
"In a world where Joel Schumacher just passed away, what an interesting, wonderful testimony that would be to his work, to get to see a totally different version of Batman Forever," Smith said.
Rumors of longer, tonally different cuts of both Batman Forever and Batman & Robin have existed for a while, and a #ReleaseTheSchumacherCut hashtag started to circulate on Twitter shortly after HBO Max announced the upcoming release of Zack Snyder's Justice League -- but until this point it had seemed largely speculative and unlikely to have any viability -- especially after Schumacher passed away. Do you think this new revelation changes that? Hit us up in the comments or let me know on Twitter at @russburlingame! And Bernardin says, for anybody who thinks WB should release this version, to tweet #ReleaseThe20000Cut, a reference to a running joke from a previous Fatman Beyond episode.