ABUSE AND PUNISHMENT

If there’s anything that Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher can agree on it’s that a Batman movie is the perfect place for them to do and show inappropriate stuff. Like having Catwoman dress up in a skin tight black leather outfit or have the Penguin act like a total leering, drooling creeper or make everything look like it’s inside a gothic cathedral, inspiring a whole generation of emo kids. Or in Schumacher’s case, basing the production design on S&M clubs and clothing. At least in some cases. And I thought the reason they brought Schumacher in was to turn out something that wasn’t quite as dark and weird.

Wait, that is why they hired him.

In an Entertainment Weekly article from 1993 which announced the new director and changes for Batman Forever, a representative from Michael Keaton’s production company, Harry Colomby, expressed his approval of Schumacher taking the helm, saying “Schumacher can make Batman sexier and more heroic.” (Entertainment Weekly, Issue 190, 10/1/93)

Here are a few observations pertaining to this:

-Two-Face’s two woman compatriots are named Sugar and Spice in the film but in the script they are named Lace and Leather.

-Goldman describes their hideout: Leather’s domain looks like an S&M club.

-And let’s not forget the fetishistic aspects of Batman’s costume itself.

-I can’t emphasize enough how weird I felt having to take a screenshot of Batman’s muscly chest.

-The film opens with close-ups of the gloves, boots, muscular chest, his shiny gadgets and then at the end, also a buttocks shot after Batman dons his new costume. And the nipples! We can’t forget the much lauded nipples. The Bat-Nipples are like the Jar Jar of this movie.

-During an interview on the DVD, Allen Pike, one of the films designers of the Batmobile, talks about how Schumacher was inspired by the design of some suggestive leather clothing that he saw in a magazine for the ribbed body of the car.

Hot.

Okay, so there’s a bunch of references to a kinky sexual practice that involves an abuser and an abusee. What’s it all doing here?

Well, this comes down to that idea of punishment.

Remember that it was originally intended and revealed that Batman was driven by the guilt of having believing he had caused his parents death. So crime fighting is his way of punishing himself for his sins.

There’s a quick little scene in the screenplay that highlights this.

Chase is watching footage of Batman fighting Catwoman. Here’s what she says-

Chase: Look at the abuse he’s taking. He’s not just fighting criminals. He’s punishing himself.

There’s someone else in the room with her. She’s not just talking to herself. I don’t remember who it is though.

In the scene where Chase attempts to seduce Batman on the roof she asks-

Chase: Or do I need skin-tight vinyl and a whip?

It’s interesting that they left this line in because it’s obviously a reference to Catwoman but there were a lot of other references to the two previous films in the screenplay that they did a good job of taking out. Probably because they wanted people to know that this was a NEW, CHEERIER, LESS DEPRESSING Batman.

In the script, Alfred makes reference to Vicki Vale while talking with Bruce and during his destruction of the Batcave, the Riddler exclaims, “Oh, it’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight!” and then pauses, remarking to himself, “Who used to say that? Someone used to say that.” (It was Joker).

While we are on the subject of weird shit that probably shouldn’t be in a kid’s movie, let’s look at the character of Edward Nygma and how he’s kind of a stalker.

During their first meeting, as Nygma rants about his invention, Wayne casually notices the Bat signal outside the window. As he sees this, we hear Nygma trying to appeal to Wayne’s ego to grant him funding to finish his work.

Nygma: Someone so intelligent… brave… charming…

He practically gushes the last word like a teenager telling a girl that she’s pretty. Remember also that Nygma called Wayne his ‘idol’.

There’s a part of this scene that was in the script but not filmed where Nygma goes to grab his invention and shows it to Wayne, he spurts out the question, “What is man’s greatest tool?” The double entendre is lost on him in his excitement but not on the other workers in the room, who all chuckle. Nygma momentarily loses his confidence but then pushes on ahead.

Then there’s Nygma’s crazy little cubicle which we see later has pictures and clippings of Wayne plastered all over it.

Don’t you post pictures of your boss all over your workspace?

And then there’s that Ms. Gotham cover, presumably a woman’s magazine as it asks “The Perfect Man?” Did Nygma go out and buy that magazine or was it like his aunts or something? Or how about the one next to it? The one that has Wayne with lipstick all over his face?

Nygma’s obsessive attitude towards Wayne continues through the film with the riddles that Nygma lovingly constructs and leaves for Bruce to stumble upon. They are even referred to in the script as ‘love letters’.

Chase tells Bruce her opinion while they are discussing the matter at her apartment.

Chase: The letter writer is obsessed with you. His only escape may be…

Bruce: To kill me.

And then there’s the Riddler’s fab wardrobe.

Yeah, pretty much everything about the Ridller is weird in this movie.

CONTINUE to AN UNCARING WORLD

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