The fourth movie in the Warner Bros. Batman franchise premiered on June 20, 1997.
Batman & Robin was a fast-tracked sequel to its wildly successful predecessor, Batman Forever (1995), but it was panned by critics and is widely regarded by fans as the worst Batman film ever made. In fact, it was so bad that Warner Bros. put all plans for future Batflicks on hold until the character was eventually resurrected by Christopher Nolan with Batman Begins (2005).
As a kid, I remember watching this movie and finding it pretty fun; many years later, the fun is still, there but it's harder to make out in the midst of super-cheesy dialogue and cartoonish sound effects. There are some highlights (POISON. IVY'S. WARDROBE.), as well as some easy-to-spot plot twists.
So what's it like to revisit Batman & Robin as an adult?
- First off: Who did Arnold Schwarzenegger threaten to get top billing? He's the first name in the credits before George Clooney (who's actually Batman in this movie, bat nips and all).
- I know everyone's still got Bat-nipples jokes 20 years later, but we can we talk about the pretty gratuitous crotch and ass shots for both male superheroes? Are they off to fight crime or a 2-for-1 night at the Blue Oyster?
- Robin whines about wanting his own car instead of a motorcycle, and it's in this moment I realize that The LEGO Batman Movie may be this movie's true sequel.
- Can we talk about Batman showing up to arrest Freeze by breaking through a skylight and then surfing down a replica of a Brontosaurus? What is this, The Flintstones?
- Good thing Batman and Robin have blades hidden in their boots that they activate by clicking their heels Wizard of Oz-style, since all of Mr. Freeze's henchmen are ice hockey players. Maybe the NHL has a crappy retirement plan.
- Mr. Freeze escapes on a rocket set to launch into space and then jets to freedom, leaving Batman and Robin behind. So of course they surf back down into Gotham on the rocket's emergency doors, because that's totally how that works.
- Robin's recklessness leads him to getting shot with a freeze gun, so obviously Batman has to let Freeze go in order to save the Boy Wonder, which seems incredibly counterproductive and like poor decision-making for a superhero.
-Reminder: THIS GUY got top billing.
- For someone whose previous job experience is "acrobat," Robin sure seems to have a lot of issues with Batman coming to his rescue.
- Pamela Isley starts out as a mild-mannered researcher trying to develop a way for plants to defend themselves and then winds up murdered by her male colleague when she uncovers his corrupt goal to create an army of super soldiers. Because apparently things have always been the WORST when you're a woman working in a STEM field.
- Oh, look! Jerk scientist co-worker that Poison Ivy kills is John Glover, aka Lex Luthor's dad Lionel on Smallville. That would've actually made a killer DCEU plotline.
- While Bruce is having a happy trip down memory lane via flashbacks, Alfred is sick and masking his symptoms from everyone. Way to show the only father you have how much you care, buddy.
- Um, why doesn't Alfred's niece have a British accent?
- For someone who says she's deathly afraid of motorcycles, how does Barbara just happen to pack both a motorcycle helmet and a motorcycle jacket so she can sneak out of Wayne Manor to go drag racing? Actually, who cares. Get it, girl.
- Batman and Robin decide to host a charity auction to lure Mr. Freeze out into the open. As Batman and Robin. Which makes absolutely no sense, considering Bruce Wayne's family diamonds are what's being auctioned off, but I've given up trying to understand this movie.
- The home videos Mr. Freeze is watching of himself and his wife were clearly filmed by a third person somewhere in the room and not via any obvious handheld camera.
-. Batman pulls out a Bat-credit card that NEVER EXPIRES. I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS, but namely: How did he apply for his own credit card without a Social Security number? WHO ACCEPTS A BATCARD?
- Nothing screams '90s like Coolio making a cameo in your movie.
- Turns out Bruce has known all along that Alfred's sick, so I guess he's less of a jerk. Conveniently, the fictional disease Alfred's dying from is also the same disease that Mr. Freeze was trying to develop a cure for to heal his wife. HMMM, METHINKS THAT WILL RESOLVE ITSELF.
- "Men: the most absurd of God's creatures" - a line that Poison Ivy literally drops that had me seal-clapping in the midst of this crazy-bananas movie.
- I have a hard time believing Freeze could summon a tear when Poison Ivy deactivates his cryogenically frozen wife, considering he has to be kept at a constant zero degrees at all times. Someone show me the science on that.
- In spite of several known criminals at large, Gotham puts on another star-studded event, because focusing GCPD resources on security for said event is definitely wiser than, you know, fighting actual criminals.
- Alfred's condition has deteriorated very quickly in the midst of all this, so Bruce goes to his bedside and apologizes for not being able to save him, and they hug and say how much they love one another. YOU EITHER GET CAMPY BATMAN OR ANGSTY BATMAN, YOU CAN'T HAVE BOTH.
- Alfred's on his deathbed yet also finds the time and energy to make Barbara her own Batsuit. Take that, Martha Stewart.
- Somehow, during their trip from Ivy's digs to the Gotham observatory all three caped crusaders find time to change into slightly different versions of their suits with silver accenting, and I never knew I needed an '80s-style superhero outfit montage until this very moment.
Can you believe this was meant to kick off a whole new series of movies? Actually, if you watch Suicide Squad immediately after this, both movies make a little bit more sense.