Michael Keaton Says He Bailed on ‘Batman Forever’ Because He Knew It ‘Sucked’
Batman Forever is perhaps best known for being the second most terrible Batman movie ever made aside from Batman & Robin. It is, in a word, spectacularly bad, marring the promise of seeing the Riddler and Two-Face banter onscreen with some truly terrible acting on the part of everyone involved, and a script that just defies any willful suspension of disbelief. Michael Keaton seemed to be unusually prescient of all of this, since the reason he gave for why he chose to bow out of the franchise was that he knew it was going to be terrible.
It sucked! The script never was good. I couldn’t understand why he wanted to do what he wanted to do. I hung on for many meetings. I knew it was in trouble when he [Joel Schumacher] said, ‘Why does everything have to be so dark?’
Tim Burton’s Batman manages to combine the weird Burton aesthetic with some A-list actors and the inherent silliness of comic book superheroes to make a really astonishingly great Batman adaptation. Batman Forever dialed up the silliness to 11, and the acting and design of the movie just couldn’t catch up. Keaton seems to have given it a shot, attending as many meetings as he could stomach before realizing Schumacher’s vision of Batman was not where the movies should have headed. Who knows — maybe in 20 years critics and fans alike will look back at Batman Forever as an unsung gem (our Editor-in-Chief kinda does), but for now it remains a primer on exactly how not to make a superhero movie.