A darker and longer cut of Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever reportedly exists. But, it is not certain though if this version will ever be released today.
According to a report by Variety, there is a 170-minute-long version of the superhero blockbuster hit directed by the late Joel Schumacher and released by Warner Bros in 1995.
More than a week ago, writer Marc Bernardin (who is currently one of the producers behind Star Trek: Picard) posted on this Twitter page that there is indeed a so-called Schumacher cut of the movie, but Warner Bros was not sure if this expanded and more serious version will attract audiences.
I have it on VERY good authority that a 170-minute cut of Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever exists. Warner Bros. is unsure if there's any hunger for what was described to me as a "much darker, more serious" version. So, should WB #ReleaseThe20000Cut?
— Thiccolas Cage (@marcbernardin) July 2, 2020
Of course, everybody now knows that the Batman Forever that did make it on the big screen in the 1990s was a rather campy affair, even more so than the earlier Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) movies helmed by Tim Burton.
But some fans now might be interested to see just how far Schumacher would have gone into the dark side in his first foray into the Batman universe if he had been given total creative control.
Just how serious was it?
Much has already been written about the over-the-top performances of the villains cast in Batman Forever, particularly Jim Carrey as the Riddler and Oscar-winner Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face.
But as it turned out, Schumacher actually did make an effort to temper the camp with serious themes, some of which deal with the complex emotional and psychological issues of Bruce Wayne, which eventually led to Gotham’s most eligible bachelor choosing to become a masked vigilante.
While it’s true that the 1995 release did touch on some of the psychological angles, mainly through the perspective of the psychiatrist Dr. Chase Meridian, a character played by Nicole Kidman, who not only develops more than just a clinical interest in the Batman persona but also grows closer to Bruce Wayne.
Scenes with darker tones
Psychological themes notwithstanding, Schumacher reportedly also shot some scenes that would have added a more serious bent on Batman Forever’s mostly popcorn movie proceedings.
In the 1995 version, Bruce Wayne has a vision of a bat coming at him, suggesting the inspiration for him to become Gotham’s dark knight.
In the Schumacher cut, however, Bruce got to face down a human-sized bat. Thankfully, this deleted scene has already surfaced on YouTube, as noted by Digital Spy.
Joel Schumacher died last June, leaving a body of work that combined blockbuster hits (The Lost Boys, Flatliners, The Client) with critically-acclaimed fare (Falling Down, Tigerland, Phone Booth).
For better or worse, the Batman films he directed, including 1997’s Batman & Robin, will always be part of his filmmaking legacy. As for the Schumacher cut of Batman Forever, if it will indeed rise from the Lazarus Pit, it will still be embraced by his fans nonetheless.
Featured image courtesy of Batman Forever (Warner Bros)