Batman Forever (1995)
Warner Bros. Reshapes Batman's Film Presence

In response to some of the criticism Batman Returns had received for being "too dark," Warner Brothers made the decision to redefine the Batman franchise for the third film, Batman Forever.

By putting Joel Schumacher in the director's chair, choosing another musical scorer in Eliot Goldenthal, and casting Val Kilmer as Batman, Warner Brothers made a bold decision in its reshaping of what a Batman film was. Gone were the "big three," of Burton, Keaton, and Elfman, and many wondered if the second sequel to Batman could turn a substantial profit without any of these three involved in the creative process of the film.

Seemingly ignoring the naysayers, Schumacher set out to deliver his vision of the Dark Knight as a lighter, less edgy approach to Batman and his characters. This approach included the first appearance of Robin in this film series, portrayed by Chris O'Donnell. Schumacher continued the tradition set in Batman Returns of pitting Batman against two villians, this time against Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and The Riddler (Jim Carrey). The star-power of Jim Carrey drew many people to see the film, and made Batman Forever a success in the box office.

 I view Batman Forever as somewhat of an oddity in the franchise, marking the transition from the dark edge of the Burton Batman films to the silly campiness of Schumacher's follow-up Batman and Robin. The main downfall of this film seems to be the inclusion of too many characters into the plot. Batman, Robin, The Riddler, Two-Face, Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) all are important pieces of the plot, and following all these characters is sometimes distracting, especially considering that the audience must digest the origins of Robin, The Riddler, and Two-Face, while re-hashing Bruce Wayne's own dark memories of his parents' death. The movie is largely enjoyable though, with Val Kilmer doing a respectable job as the Dark Knight, and with Jim Carrey's over-the-top antics perfectly suited for the Riddler character. It is these antics that make the film an enjoyable one, and make you not take the film too seriously, which could have been this film's downfall. Whatever its shortcomings are, though, Batman Forever continued the success of Warner Brothers' Batman film franchise, and led the way for the fourth film, Batman and Robin, which would come close to bringing the Batman film series to a premature death.