Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time to revisit the mad world of Batman Fan Theories.
Dave: Right. You know Batman Forever and Batman & Robin?
Of course. The former is among the movies I personally consider so-bad-it’s-good. The latter, on the other hand, is just.. bad.
However, my opinion on Batman Forever aside, having read the first draft of the script, I admit I would’ve much preferred them making that movie. It seemed much better.
But let’s not kid ourselves. You didn’t ask because you wanted my opinion on the movies. You asked because you’ve got some fan theory that is bound to drive me one step closer towards the abyss of insanity…
Let’s hear it.
Dave: Batman Forever and Batman & Robin are movies.
Yes, I know. That’s not really a theory. Despite what some people may say or wish, they are movies, and they do in fact exist.
Dave: No, that’s not what I mean! I mean they are movies within movies!
Dave: The two movies made by Joel Schumacher are in-universe movies within the Tim Burton universe. Just look at the differences in style between movies! The changed look of Gotham, the exaggerated characters, the gaudy and flashy colours! See, at some point, Bruce decided to sell the rights to Batman and make movies about his exploits.
Wait… why would he do that? Seems slightly out of character for him, doesn’t it?
Dave: Well, he thought Selina Kyle was dead at the end of Batman Returns, so maybe he retired out of guilt and heartbreak.
But… he didn’t think Selina was dead at the end of Batman Returns. He never found her body, only that of Max Shreck. And even if she WAS dead, he wouldn’t be the guilty party, since he wasn’t the one who made her into Catwoman and did everything he could to help her.
Dave: Oh.. well, maybe he went bankrupt, and made the movies as a means to regain his fortune, so that he could continue with his crime fighting?
I see. Because if there’s one thing we know about Batman, it’s that if he didn’t have money, he’d stop fighting crime. I mean, his only superpower is money, right? It’s not like he’s also incredibly smart and in amazing physical condition, and is motivated by a sense of justice, trying to defend the weak. It’s not like he’d still fight crime even without money…
Call me a bit optimistic, but I’d say the aforementioned intelligence would probably prevent him from falling into bankruptcy to begin with. Even if Wayne Enterprises ran into financial trouble, Bruce probably has a few contingencies to prevent that from impacting his crusade against the criminal underworld.
But for the sake of argument, let’s say he is out of money and this prevents him from fighting crime. So he figured the best thing to do is to reveal his identity to millions of people, explain who he is, where he lives, how his base works and who his loved ones are…
Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t that seem not only out of character but also catastrophically stupid?
Dave: Well, whatever the reason, the theory overall makes sense! Look at the changed style of the movies! Gotham looks different, Bruce Wayne looks different, the tone of the movies changed!
Ah, yes. I can kind of see what you mean. Gotham does indeed look very different in Batman Forever compared to the first Batman and there is a very obvious and abrupt change of style.
Dave: You see!
But the problem is… that would only work as an argument is Gotham looked the same in both Tim Burton movies.
Dave: Well, yes…
However, there is a noticeable change in style between the first and second Tim Burton movies as well.
In the first Batman movie, Gotham looked like New York on steroids. Very big, grungy, messy, polluted…
In Batman Returns, the architecture is more gothic, more extravagant, more… Burton-esque.
In fact, the entire movie has more of the style we associate with Tim Burton. The penguin’s clothes are very victorian, the music is much more in line with movies like A Nightmare Before Christmas and Beetlejuice…
Dave: Oh, are you criticizing the Burton movies?
Not at all. I am not saying this difference is good or bad. I’m just making the point that there are changes in style between the first two movies.
Dave: Well, there is also the exaggerated goons with the stupid gimmicks!
Oh, like Mr. Freeze’s eskimo’s?
And Two-Face’s thugs, with the bisected balaclavas?
And the Penguin and his circus gang and army of trained penguins?
Dave: Yea- oh…
Again, this is not something new to the Shumacher movies. But one thing you are right about is that Bruce Wayne looks different. However, do you know who doesn’t look different?
In these four movies, Bruce Wayne has been played by Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney.
Alfred, meanwhile, has been played by Michael Gough in all four of them.
Seems strange, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t Alfred have better things to do than to act in a movie, especially when they could just hire another actor, like they supposedly did with Bruce?
Dave: Well, maybe Bruce Wayne’s bankruptcy meant he had to fire Alfred, because he couldn’t afford to pay him.
Wait… you’re trying to tell me that Alfred Pennyworth would leave Bruce Wayne because he wasn’t paid? Alfred, as played by Michael Gough? The guy who raised Bruce and cared for him for what, 30 years?
Who the hell do you think you’re talking about here?! If you think Alfreds main motivation for working for Bruce Wayne is money, then you have not been paying attention.
And how about Pat Hingle?
The guy who played Commissioner Gordon. He also appears in all four movies, playing the same role.
If you disregard the blatant character-deviation, the idea of Alfred quitting his job as a butler and becoming an actor would maybe hold water… but that the police commissioner would decide to play himself in a series of movies!? Seems a bit far fetched to me.
And speaking of character appearances… here’s another.
Take a look at these two men.
Dave: Wait… are you using this as an argument against the theory?
Indeed I am. You see, this theory claims that Batman Forever is a movie within the Batman universe.
Which would mean Harvey Dent, as in the real man, is the man on the left and he never became Two-Face. The man on the right would have to be an actor in-universe, right?
Dave: Well, obviously.
Then let me ask you this. How do you suppose the REAL Gotham DA Harvey Dent would react to a movie portraying him not only as caucasian rather than african american, but also as a psychotic murderer and crime lord?
I’d say the subsequent lawsuit would see the end of any possible sequels, as well as destroy whatever chance Bruce would have to ever rebuilding his fortune.
Dave: No! Don’t ruin this! This theory would improve the movies, because it would mean the Shumacher movies never took place!
Actually, no, it really wouldn’t improve the movies, seeing as it shows us that Batman, the Dark Knight, the Worlds Greatest Detective, as played by Michael Keaton…
This theory suggests he would willingly sell out his crusade, put himself and his loved ones in danger, allow his legacy be made into a mockery and his trauma over the death of his parents be paraded for all the world to see.
(And it would have to be with his consent, seeing as according to this theory, it happened TWICE!)
And all for no good reason.
Tell me, Dave… How is that an “Improvement”? On the contrary, I’d say it does more damage to the first and second movie than the Bat Credit Card, Mr. Freeze’s puns, the bat nipples and Uma Thurman combined.
In the words of Max Shreck:
Shame on you!