Did Batman and Robin really kill anyone’s careers?
Batman & Robin is the textbook definition of an infamous film. It’s considered one of the worst movies ever made, it’s almost every comic fan’s example of a terrible comic book movie, and, at the time, it was considered a franchise killer for the Batman series. It was also considered a career killer for many of the people who worked on it. However, is that really true or has the effect this movie had on their careers been exaggerated?
Well, let’s look at Joel Schumacher, the director of the film. Batman & Robin is considered the movie that killed his career but that’s not particularly true because he spent 10 years directing mainstream studio fare after it, including 8MM, Bad Company, Phone Booth, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Number 23. If the movie really killed his career, would major studios really have given him that many chances?
However, while the movie didn’t kill his career, it did ruin his reputation. Despite the fact that he has some decent films like The Lost Boys under his belt, he’s pretty much considered one of the worst directors ever thanks to Batman & Robin. And this could explain why most of those movies, besides Phone Booth, which was a modest success, bombed at the box office. I think it was those bombs, and not Batman & Robin, that really killed his career.
But what about the actors?
Two actors whose careers it’s said Batman & Robin ruined are Alicia Silverstone‘s and Chris O’Donnell’s. But, in this case, I think it started the downfall of their careers rather than killed them outright.
Alicia’s career was pretty much killed by Excess Baggage and Blast From the Past. Batman & Robin was Step 1 for the death of her career as, due to the fact that it was a box office disappointment (plus the fact that Columbia Pictures was not particularly fond of her). Excess Baggage bombed at the box office after getting little to no promotion. However, she still had a chance to resurrect her career if Blast From the Past was a hit. Yet, despite having better reviews than Batman & Robin and Excess Baggage, that movie bombed at the box office as well. After THAT movie, she has never headlined a major film again. In fact, she’s mostly stuck to independent films and, when she has been in a more mainstream movie (i.e. Scooby Doo 2, Beauty Shop, Tropic Thunder, and the upcoming Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie), it’s been in supporting roles. So, if anything, it was Blast From the Past that killed her career rather than Batman & Robin.
Chris O’Donnell was stuck in a similar situation. It definitely hurt his career but he was still given chances to headline another major film. Yet, both of those choices kinda killed his career. After Batman & Robin, he starred in The Bachelor and Vertical Limit and, domestically, both of those movies were box office disappointments. After that, he’s mostly stuck to TV shows and supporting roles. Yet, it’s a little different for him because the reason he stepped out of the limelight was not only due to the fact that, since Batman & Robin, his movies bombed but he also took a bit of a break to focus on family. Therefore, even if The Bachelor and Vertical Limit were huge hits, he probably would’ve focused on his family and that might’ve slowed his career down.
Another career Batman & Robin is blamed for ruining is Uma Thurman‘s…at least until Kill Bill came along.
But, like with Alicia and Chris, it hurt her career but it didn’t ruin it. No, if anything, it was the double act of Batman & Robin and The Avengers (’98) that killed her career as both were attempts at making her a movie star after audiences took note of her due to her breakout performance in Pulp Fiction. Yet both movies failed at making Uma a movie star and she pretty much stuck to independent films until Kill Bill was a huge hit. Yet, if anything, history repeated itself as Uma has now pretty much stuck to independent movies again after Be Cool, Prime, The Producers, and My Super Ex-Girlfriend all failed at making her a movie star. If anything, Uma’s always been more of an independent film actress and her attempts at becoming a movie star didn’t really go anywhere, despite breakout performances in Quentin Tarantino’s movies.
So, it didn’t really kill anyone’s careers but it did ruin Batman’s popularity. While all of the Batman animated series were doing just fine, Batman didn’t appear on the big screen for 8 years after the movie came out and, that time, the franchise was rebooted with Batman Begins.
So, if anything, while the movie may not have killed any careers, it did kill the original Batman franchise.