A super-sized version of Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever reportedly exists in the form of a nearly three-hour director's cut. Writer and podcaster Marc Bernardin reported on Fatman Beyond that he had it on very good authority that 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 have it on pretty good authority that there exists in the Warner Bros. vault a 170-minute cut of Batman Forever," Bernardin told his 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.
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