Trolling #13: Batman & Robin RULES!
We here at CraveOnline's Trolling have been trying to steer around superhero movies, as frankly the ground is too fertile. Fans of all things geek and those who obsess over pop culture – at least in the midst of current filmmaking trends – seem to be the most passionate about comic book material, and the superheroes therein (I have already defended the legitimately good Daredevil, and attacked the legitimately bad The Dark Knight). As more and more of these damn superhero movies get made (Aren't you tired of them yet? Really? You want more Thor movies? Doesn't the thought of The Avengers 2 make you want to vomit?), audiences are having more and more impassioned responses to them, both positive and negative.
But no film in the superhero canon seems to be more openly and passionately hated than Joel Schumacher's 1997 classic Batman & Robin. The glitzy action spectacular has become a byword in popular culture for how bad blockbusters can get, and endless online rantings continually cite it as one of the worst movies of all time. Mike Nelson of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” fame took it one step further, and declared it the worst thing ever conceived of my humankind. It enjoys an unenviable 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and was nominated for ten Razzies (winning one, for Worst Supporting Actress), although it seems to have escaped being listed in the IMDb's Bottom 100.
Well, given its reputation, no film requires Trolling more than Batman & Robin. It has been so widely accepted as awful for so long, many may have lost sight of the fact that the movie may actually be – underneath all of that bile and hatred – really, really good. Indeed, Batman & Robin rules. Some critics (like the excellent Luke Y. Thompson) have finally had the wool lifted from their eyes, and they have seen the truth about Schumacher's movie. Batman & Robin doesn't deserve its reputation. It deserves the opposite.
Let's look at a few reasons as to why.
I do understand that most fans were upset by the version of Batman they got in this movie. Batman & Robin does take place, technically, in the same continuity as the two Tim Burton films, and we had already been primed on Burton's film noir sensibilities, so many reacted negatively to this much brighter, more cartoonish version of the Batman universe. What's more, it does suffer from a bloated running time (125 minutes), and perhaps too many characters for its own good (three heroes and three villains makes for a busy movie). But it's also an exciting and enjoyable cinema experience that you have been hating for far too long.
Until next week, let the hate mail flow.
Witney Seibold is a featured contributor on the CraveOnline Film Channel, and co-host of The B-Movies Podcast. You can read his weekly articles Trolling, Free Film School and The Series Project, and follow him on “Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind.