People love to hate on the superhero genre. Most people, that is. People who like superheroes tend to love them; while people who don’t usually hate them. So it’s kind of an impossible feat to achieve true objectivity when talking about Superheroes. But let’s do it anyway. Let’s talk about Batman & Robin for a bit. If you’re reading this, then you’re probably wondering the same thing.
It Was Never Meant to Be An Equally-Spaced Trilogy
Let’s face it. The success of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) inspired Hollywood studios to try and cash in on the craze. While there were some good-quality superhero films produced beforehand, the majority of them were either poorly made or poorly conceived. We’re talking abou
t those awful Justice League films, for example. Or the multiple reboots of the X-Men franchise. Or the Spiderman trilogy, which was, in our opinion, the worst of the lot. It doesn’t help that the MCU made it possible for Hollywood to explore complicated, character-driven narratives with ease. Superhero movies simply couldn’t cope with that kind of story any more.
And so, we were left with a ridiculous surplus of superhero movies. To make matters worse, filmmakers kept on trying to one-up each other’s storylines and visuals. As a result, we got everything from retcons to redos. It got so bad that some movie sequels were actually opposed by the original film’s director, due to creative differences. That’s a crazy concept, right? As much as we may hate to admit it, the MCU did inspire a lot of creativity, although not always in positive ways.
Why Does Batman & Robin Deserve to Stand Out?
We’re not going to lie. Batman & Robin is a messy film. To put it bluntly, it’s one of the worst offenders when it comes to execution-quality issues. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Quite the opposite, in fact.
First of all, the script is actually quite strong, although it could’ve used some improvements. The performances are also quite good, with the possible exception of Kim Basinger’s as the infamous Vicki Vale. One of the few good things about the film are the visuals, which are very well done for the time, especially for a low-budget independent production.
The plot is also quite unique. Yes, it’s another story of a billionaire’s children wanting to avenge their parents’ deaths at the hands of a super-villain. But here’s where it gets interesting. The story doesn’t follow the usual template. For example, the Joker, who is arguably the franchise’s greatest villain, is actually quite a sympathetic character. He doesn’t appear in the script until the fourth quarter, and even then, his scenes are quite restrained. Or take the Penguin, Harley Quinn, and several other supporting characters. They’re not given much of a backstory, which arguably made them more three-dimensional.
Does This Film Prove That Tim Burton Is Still Able to Give a Good Performance?
This is quite a loaded question, especially considering the fact that Burton’s career has been on a downward trend for several years now. But to give the director his due, he does give a surprisingly good performance, considering his age at the time. It’s not easy to act at a ripe old age, and even then, Burton pulls it off surprisingly well. His Batman is also quite an original creation, which makes him the perfect fit for the role. While Christian Bale’s Batman is rightly acclaimed for being the first living incarnation of the Dark Knight, Tim Burton’s Batman is quite a different animal.
A Film That Anybody Can Enjoy
On the subject of enjoyment, we have to admit that we laughed a lot while watching Batman & Robin. There are several jokes in the script that were so good that they had us in stitches. The script also has a handful of one-liners that are undoubtedly going to become classics.
But the thing is, this is not a comedy. This is a dark and gritty film with a lot of heartache. To suggest that it’s something light and amusing would be a mistake. It also doesn’t hurt that several of the film’s supporting characters are amusing, even if their stories are anything but. This is actually a good thing, because it gives a different perspective. Rather than seeing the world through the lens of an adult, we get to see it through the lens of a child. So although the film has its fair share of flaws, it also boasts a few significant strengths.
On the subject of strengths, let’s briefly discuss the cast. While the film has an A-list director and a number of A-list stars, the supporting cast is arguably just as important. Specifically, the non-speaking, smaller supporting characters are often the ones who give the film its heart. In other words, they’re the ones who make us truly care about the characters, and not just the celebrities.
Let’s Hope This Will Be The Last Of These Reboot Fests
In terms of hoping for better things, let’s hope that this will be the last of these superhero movie reboots. There was a time when we didn’t have Marvel and DC competing for cinematic supremacy. But nowadays, it feels like we haven’t stopped making superhero films since 2004. And let’s face it, a lot of them were awful. While it’s important to learn from mistakes, it’s also important to learn to stop making them. If it’s something that doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. At the end of the day, these franchises deserve to be rebooted or revived only if the writers and directors can find a way to make it work. As a general rule, it’s better to stop experimenting than to start again because things didn’t work out.