Val Kilmer's Batman Forever Batsuit Woes Were Solved With A Little 'Soap Opera' Acting

Val Kilmer grew up a Batman fan. He recalled to The Hollywood Reporter how he got to sit in the Batmobile as a second grader when his father took him to the set of the TV series in the '60s. So, when director Joel Schumacher tapped him to replace Michael Keaton as the titular superhero for 1995's "Batman Forever," it was a childhood dream come true. Kilmer would be paired with stars such as Jim Carrey as an unhinged Riddler, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face and Nicole Kidman as Bruce Wayne's love interest, Dr. Chase Meridian. For Kilmer, the dream quickly became a nightmare. 

In the '90s, the "Top Gun" actor had developed a reputation for being difficult to work with, so much so that in '96 Entertainment Weekly devoted an entire piece detailing his erratic behavior on film sets titled "Val Kilmer Makes Enemies in Hollywood." Hollywood hitters took turns taking shots at him, including Schumacher. "I had heard horror stories about Val and was warned not to hire him," Schumacher told the publication. "But I have heard that about many talented people, hired them anyway, and had no problems whatsoever." 

He discovered that wouldn't be the case with Kilmer early on as the two clashed on set, which culminated in a shoving match. There are a few explanations for Kilmer's discontent while portraying the superhero he wanted to be as a kid, but one of his documented qualms is with the Batsuit, a manner he attempted to solve on his own. 

The Batsuit crushed Kilmer's excitement to portray Batman

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Val Kilmer opened up about his issues with the Baitsuit in "Val," his autobiographical documentary released in 2021. "Whatever boyhood excitement I had was crushed by the reality of the Batsuit," he said. "Yes, every boy wants to be Batman. They actually want to be him ... not necessarily play him in a movie."

Kilmer said the restrictive suit made him almost breathless to the point that he couldn't hear people talking to him. To solve his woes, he said incorporated a little "soap opera" acting that involved putting his hands on his hips in scenes he had with Nicole Kidman. "I think it made no difference what I was doing," he said. "I tried to be like an actor on a soap opera. When I would turn to Nicole ... I couldn't count how many times I put my hands on my hips."

Honestly, while I enjoyed "Days of Our Lives" for a brief stretch while in middle school, I'm not that familiar with soap opera acting, so I'm not quite sure of its relation to placing your hands on your hips; Google wasn't any help. However, I do understand that some deep breathing exercises involves holding the hips. Perhaps, Kilmer used this technique to prevent himself from passing out during his kiss scenes with Kidman. Again, I'm not sure because these scenes were shot close up in a Sergio Leone sorta way, so it's impossible to see where his hands are. Despite Kilmer's breathing issues, Schumacher's Batsuits would be criticized for something entirely different. 

Batsuit nipples

"Batman Forever" was a commercial success and Warner Bros. rushed production on the 1997 follow up, "Batman & Robin." Schumacher returned to the director's chair, but Val Kilmer chose to star in "The Saint" instead. "He sort of quit, we sort of fired him," Schumacher told Entertainment Weekly in '96. "It probably depends on who's telling the story." George Clooney took the reins as Batman in a film that is considered as one of the worst superhero movies ever. As a kid, I thought it was an entertaining movie; Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze was awesome, but that's just me. Among the many criticism is Schumacher's adding of nipples to his Batsuits. Honestly, I never understood the big deal about them, and I never even noticed them until I got older and started seeing articles about them. In 2017, Schumacher apologized for the movie and explained the nipples to Vice:

"[The suit] was made by Jose Fernandez, who was our brilliant lead sculpture. If you look at Batman and Batman Returns, it was the genius, Bob Ringwood that created those suits, so by the time we got to Batman Forever, the rubber and techniques had gotten so sophisticated. If you look at when Michael Keaton appears in the first suit, you'll notice how large it is. It was brilliant but the best they could do at the time. By the time Batman Forever came around, rubber molding had become so much more advanced. So I said, let's make it anatomical and gave photos of those Greek status and those incredible anatomical drawings you see in medical books. He did the nipples and when I looked at them, I thought, that's cool."

Funny enough, in 2022 George Clooney's bat-nipple suit went on the auction block at $40,000.