Val Kilmer's Opinion On Batman Forever Has Warmed (Just A Little) Over The Years

Hollywood really likes making movies about Batman. The appeal of a super-rich guy wearing all black going around and beating up annoying villains is pretty clear, so it's no wonder Hollywood has gone through so many iterations of the Caped Crusader.

The various Batmen have had varied critical receptions. Some, like Christian Bale's "The Dark Knight" trilogy and Adam West's ultra-cheesy television run, are remembered quite fondly. Others, like Ben Affleck's DC Cinematic Universe run, are not as well looked upon.

The actor whose stint as Bruce Wayne has had almost universally poor reception is Val Kilmer, who only played the role in one film, "Batman Forever." The film is overly goofy and quite bad, and  Kilmer's performance doesn't exactly do much to save the poor script. There's a reason Kilmer didn't return to the part.

One can't blame Kilmer for trying, however. As he said in the documentary about his acting career, "Val," "By Hollywood standards Batman is the ultimate leading role and a dream come true. I took the part without even reading the script." Yep, he was the perpetrator of the classic "did not read the contract before signing it" trope. But can you really blame him for wanting to play Batman? Something he likely dreamed of growing up?

Kilmer ended up stuck with the role, and the movie became a pretty significant flop. All these years later, however, Kilmer's view on the film seems to be softening as it has for many fans of ironically bad movies.

Trapped in the suit

Following Michael Keaton's run in two films as the Dark Knight, Kilmer figured the part would be a fun dream role. The moment he actually got into the suit, however, he realized just how bad the experience was going to be. According to his memoir, "Val Kilmer: I'm Your Huckleberry," even wearing the suit itself was a torturous experience. The suit was more than a hundred pounds and rendered him nearly deaf and barely able to move.

His only respite was the special lounge chair that was built for him on set, allowing him to lay back without any discomfort. "The chair became my friend, my crush, and my only comfort," said Kilmer. "Oh, how I adored the chaise longue!"

Even what Kilmer saw as one of the few benefits of the job, meeting tons of kids while in the Batman costume, wasn't exactly what he'd hoped for. He was so trapped in the costume that he remarked that it might as well have been Betty White in the suit, for all it mattered.

All of that along with some clashes with director Joel Schumacher made the film a real struggle for Kilmer. The poor reviews only added insult to injury. Even the most generous reviews bemoaned the film's insecure hyper-masculinity and lack of substance. The movie went on to be seen as the worst of the Batman films, and Kilmer, therefore, as the worst Batman. So for years, the film was a sore subject for the actor, a sign of one of the biggest failures of his career.

So bad it's good

If there's one thing that's become clear in recent years, however, it's that nostalgia gives even the worst artifacts of pop culture some who adore it. The movie became ironically watchable, with the ridiculous over-performances by villains The Riddler and Two-Face, played by Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones (who hated Jim Carrey the whole time), providing some of the best bad lines in the movie.

The film is by no means brilliant, but it was colorful and fun. In today's world of dark, dreary superhero reboots, a movie as unapologetically cheesy as "Batman Forever" feels a bit refreshing. I'd take the silly movie over the 170-minute serious version Schumacher apparently had in the works any day.

Kilmer himself has been a part of society's softening towards the film. In his book, he recalls watching the film with his children a few years after it came out. All of his children slipped out of viewing one by one within the movie's first 20 minutes, leaving him watching alone "like a chump."

But Kilmer's take on the film is similar to most of the millennials who remember the film from their childhood. "I mean, it's so bad, it's almost good." And sometimes, that's all a movie needs to be watchable.