Two decades after Batman & Robin hit the big screen, some fans of the Caped Crusader are still smarting over the movie’s high camp, phoned-in performances, and weirdly anatomical costumes. To those folks, director Joel Schumacher would like to say he’s sorry.
In a recent interview with Vice, the 77-year-old filmmaker opened up about the infamous flop and offered a mea culpa.
“Look, I apologize,” Schumacher said. “I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that.”
Released in 1997, Batman & Robin starred George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell in the title roles, alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, and Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. Despite the star power and Schumacher’s prior Batman experience (he also helmed Batman Forever), the fourquel proved to be a critical and commercial disaster that threatened to derail his career.
“My batting average was good” to that point, Schumacher said. “And then after Batman & Robin, I was scum. It was like I had murdered a baby.”
Taking full responsibility for his creative decisions, Schumacher went on to address the most infamous gripe about Batman & Robin: the inclusion of nipples on Batman’s suit.
“Such a sophisticated world we live in where two pieces of rubber the size of erasers on old pencils, those little nubs, can be an issue,” he said. “It’s going to be on my tombstone, I know it.”
As for how the bat nipples came about, Schumacher said he was just trying to do something new.
“By the time Batman Forever came around, rubber molding had become so much more advanced,” he recalled. “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 [to lead sculptor Jose Fernandez]. He did the nipples and when I looked at them, I thought, that’s cool.”
He never anticipated the backlash, and he doesn’t he regret the decision. “Maybe I was just naive,” he said, “but I’m still glad we did it.”
Read Schumacher’s full interview at Vice.