Batman Forever is the third Batman film distributed by Warner Bros. Entertainment and stars Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, and Jim Carey as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Harvey Dent / Two-Face, and Edward Nygma / The Riddler respectively.
Batman Forever is also the third in the initial Batman film franchise that ran from Batman (1989) to 1997’s Batman and Robin. These films have seen many cast, directorial, and thematic changes throughout the years. As seen with the recasting of Batman from Michael Keaton to Vil Kilmer.
This review is the fourth in a series of articles that will examine every theatrically released Batman movie from Batman (1966) to The Dark Knight Rises in honor of The Batman’s release on March 4th.
Val Kilmer Is The New Batman
Val Kilmer replaces Michael Keaton in the role of Bruce Wayne / Batman after Keaton elected not to return after he clashed with new director, Joel Schumacher, over the portrayal of the character. Kilmer is definitely one of the highlights of this movie, however, his version of the character was still unable to live up to the precedent that Keaton put forth.
Kilmer’s Batman brings the audience back down to Earth in between the other completely ridiculous shenanigans that the villains are up to in the film. I enjoyed the fact that we got to see much more of his life as Bruce Wayne, which is something I felt was lacking in Batman Returns.
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It is very clear that Kilmer’s version of the character is completely separate from what Keaton did in the past two films. This makes it confusing as to why they bothered to claim that they were still canon in the first place. Luckily with Keaton’s return in The Flash, the Schumacher films will take place in their own separate universes, which makes more sense anyway.
I also have a hot spot for the ridiculous amount of gadgets Kilmer’s Batman seems to have in this film. It feels very 1990’s which gives the film some nice nostalgia.
The Villains Are Fun, But Maybe Too Much Fun
While both Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey have great portrayals of Two-Face and The Riddler respectively, the two’s wacky antics really clash with the other subplots within Batman Forever.
Starting with Two-Face, while it would have been nice to see Billy Dee Willaims reprise his role from Batman (1989), Jones still did surprisingly well in the role. I have mostly seen Jones in more serious parts such as his roles in Men in Black or Captain America: The First Avenger, so it was neat to see him play such a wacky/psychotic character.
If you have ever seen any other Jim Carrey movie that is exactly what you should expect for his portrayal of the Riddler. I often found myself struggling to find this character’s relevance to the plot. While Two-Face had the deaths of Dick Grayson’s family, it doesn’t feel like The Riddler has anything that moves the story forward besides his weird TV thing.
Batman Forever would have been much better off if it had just focused on the subplot of Two-Face killing Dick’s family and dealing with the fallout of such. While this was definitely a focus of the film, it really should have been the sole focus.
For more of our thoughts on Batman Forever, continue to page 2.