Arkham Asylum movie

June 20th marked the 20th anniversary of Batman & Robin, a superhero movie so despised by both fans and critics that it resulted in the franchise’s title hero(es) being put, as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pun-happy villain Mr. Freeze might say, “on ice” for the next eight years. In a retrospective interview about the film, director Joel Schumacher –whose very name can still cause involuntary spasms among Bat-fans who prefer their Dark Knight movies served with a heavy dose of the now-all-too-common “dark and gritty” style – revealed that he didn’t leave the Batman franchise of his own volition: he wanted to make an Arkham Asylum movie and planted the seeds for it in Batman & Robin and at the end of the previous movie, Batman Forever.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Schumacher explains what he wanted to do:

“I always wanted to do a whole Arkham movie, and did a scene at the end of Batman Forever when Jim [Carrey] is in a straitjacket and Nicole [Kidman] comes to see him. And it was just a nod to back to Arkham asylum which I love, and I thought it would be fun to put the other villains up there.”

Here’s that scene, for reference (starting at 1:51):

Schumacher revisited the location in Batman & Robin two years later, when Uma Thurman’s seductive Poison Ivy uses Bane to help break Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze out of the asylum:

Here’s the part where I cop to actually being a fan of Batman Forever. Sure, it doesn’t feature the “badass” Batman of the Nolan era, but I dug it as a ten-year-old kid and to this day I think it strikes a nice balance between over-the-top villains and stylish crimefighting heroics. Plus, I think Kilmer is underrated as both Batman and Bruce Wayne. One thing’s for sure: it’s a far more palatable movie than Batman & Robin. I agree with most fans that that film goes way too far into the realm of excess and ridiculousness.

But a full Arkham Asylum movie? From a post-Batman & Robin Schumacher? I actually kind of want to see that. For the same reasons that Batman & Robin didn’t work, I think a film centering on the villains of Gotham and set at one of its most famous locations may have flourished. Ramp up the cartoon insanity, give me the most outsized versions of every Bat-villain in his deep rogue’s gallery, and, as Michael Keaton’s iteration of Bruce Wayne once said, “let’s get nuts.”

What do you think? Would you have liked to see Schumacher tackle an Arkham Asylum movie, or would that have been too much for Bat-fans to handle?

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