It’s been a few days but I’m back and continuing my 75th Batman Anniversary Celebration with what can only be seen as the beginning of the downward spiral in contemporary Batman lore.
Batman Forever Theatrical Poster
Director: Joel Schumacher
Screenwriter: Lee Batchler, Janet Scott-Batchler, Akiva Goldsman
Released: June 16, 1995
Method of Screening: DVD
Batman / Bruce Wayne – Val Kilmer
Two-Face / Harvey Dent – Tommy Lee Jones
The Riddler / Edward Nygma – Jim Carrey
Robin / Dick Grayson – Chris O’Donnell
Dr. Chase Meridian – Nicole Kidman
Here’s where the franchise I loved so dear began to fade and I tend to blame Warner Bros for this one for trying to make a “kid-friendly Batman” film. Joel Schumacher is a wicked director (if you haven’t seen it, please watch Falling Down), and Akiva Goldsman is a champ writer (A Beautiful Mind, I Am Legend, Cinderella Man). The thing about this film is that the script WAS awesome. It’s a wicked tale that really breaks down the theme of duality that exists in Batman’s world – that everyone has two sides – who they have to be and who they choose to be.
The story kicks off with Bats suiting up – Bat nipples and all, before a quirky remark to Alfred about dinner. We’ve already set up the lighter tone for the film – Batman is still dark, still brooding, but he’s got a bit of a sense of humor. The cave is flashier – the Batmobile sleeker.
Plot Point 1 / Inciting Incident (~4 minutes, 30 seconds in)
Now the inciting incident in this film is not where some might think it is – it’s not when Bats first faces off against Two-Face or when he first meets Riddler – it’s the first time he comes face to face with Dr. Chase Meridian outside the bank Two-Face is holding up. She challenges his duality, and SHE is Bruce/Batman’s goal for the whole film. Then we get into a big chase sequence involving a helicopter and explosions and such. At one point we learn through a newscast a little later that Dent blames Batman for the scars on his face. So Two-Face’s goal is known – kill Batman.
Plot Point 2 (~14 minutes in)
Here we meet Edward Nygma – an employee for Wayne Enterprises. He pitches (much to his boss’ chagrin) an idea to Bruce in entertainment, where you can implant ideas into people’s heads. Bruce is not a fan, and shuts the idea down. At that point, Nygma’s goal is in place – destroy Bruce Wayne due to the rejection.
Plot Point 3 (~22 minutes in)
Nygma, now in full force rage mode, finds out his device can actually suck brainwaves from people and allow him to ingest it – increasing his intelligence. He performs this on his boss Stickley, and then murders him by pushing Stickley out of a window. However, using his new knowledge, Nygma is able to fake Stickley’s suicide (also the Police’s baffling suicide investigation, which includes a note, and Gordon saying “Yep, definitely suicide”… which wasn’t in the script)
Plot Point 4 / KEY INCIDENT (~30 – 41 minutes in)
I kind of feel there’s several key incidents in this film that motivate everything else that happens in the film. Specifically:
- Bruce visits Dr. Chase Meridian after Nygma begins leaving him riddles – again, Bruce going after his goal, but she’s definitely got a thing for Batman. Bruce asks her to the circus anyway.
- At the circus, Two-Face crashes the party, and nearly bombs the place insisting Batman reveal his true identity.
- Bruce stands up and attempts to yell out that he’s Batman, but the chaos is too loud.
- Dent leaves a trail of dead Graysons in his wake, and Dick is the only survivor – now going to live with Bruce at Wayne Manor.
- This ENDS ACT 1
Plot Point 5 (~44 minutes in)
Bruce reminisces about his parents death, and the effect it has had on his life, and he begins to see a parallel between himself and young Dick Grayson.
Then there’s a big random chase sequence, literally just to show how far Two Face is willing to go to kill Batman. Really… doesn’t add anything to the story.
Plot Point 6 (~53 minutes in)
The meeting of the freaks. It is at this point that Nygma meets with Two-Face and they hatch a plan – team up and steal capital to fund Nygmatech (the IRS must not have a clue what’s going on in Gotham), and then using this new technology, find out who the Batman is and destroy him. Our antagonistic forces are building and creating more obstacles for our hero.
Plot Point 7 (~1 hour, 1 minute in)
At this point, Nygmatech is fully funded and they have their own private island (seriously IRS, take a look at where this dude gets his cash) and the stocks are selling fast. Nygma meanwhile, continues to ingest knowledge from all of the Gothamites who have purchased his product – essentially making him one of the smartest men alive.
Plot Point 8 / MIDPOINT (~ 1 hour, 2 min – 1 hour 10 min)
The midpoint spans a good chunk of the film – an entire sequence. Specifically Dick finds the cave and realizes who Batman actually is, and goes on a joyride in the Batmobile. Meanwhile, Bruce is again with Dr. Meridian (see the pattern? Inciting incident, key incident, and now midpoint have all been interactions with Chase). He informs her about his parents murder, and how that has affected him further. She gives him a dreamcatcher figurine (something too Two-Face-esque to be a coincidence). Bruce then suits up when Alfred inform him of Dick’s adventure, and brings him home. Dick says he’s intent on finding and killing Two-Face, while Bats tries to talk him out of it. Bruce encapsulates the film in a line to Dick during this conversation. “We’re all two people” – who we have to be, and who we choose to be.
Plot Point 9 (~1 hour, 15 minutes in – 1 hour, 20 minutes in)
While attending a party for Nygma, Bruce unwittingly has Nygma’s machine turned on while he’s inside, allowing Nygma to record that he’s got “Bats on the brain.” – deducing that Wayne is Batman. Conveniently though, in an attempt to draw in Batman, Two-Face breaks up the party. Sure enough, after the machine shuts down, Bruce scampers away to get his batsuit and returns to kick ass.
However after a chase into the subway, Two-Face gets the upper hand and buries Batman in sand, only to have Dick Grayson, dressed in his old trapeze artist getup, save him. Bruce ain’t happy with Dick doing this..
Plot Point 10 (~1 hour, 29 minutes in)
After Bruce decides to retire from being Batman, he shuts down the cave, and plans on telling Chase everything – who he is, his duality, etc. However before he gets the chance to he has more repressed memories come through of his parents death, and Chase kisses him – and BAM. Since she previously kissed him as Batman, she just knows. Then Riddler and Two-Face, now knowing that Wayne is Bats, storm the place with their cronies, destroy the cave, shoot Bruce, and kidnap Chase.
This ends ACT 2 – because now Bruce’s goal has evolved – not only has he been trying to get Chase on a personal level, now he needs to get Chase to save her life.
Plot Point 11 (~1 hour, 39 minutes in)
Bruce and Alfred finally crack Nygma’s riddles, and now know that Riddler & Nygma are one in the same. Batman decides to try out his new prototype suit, and Robin shows up – in his own armour getup. They’re partners now. 2 against 2 are better odds (a lot of 2’s in this movie).
Plot Point 12 (~1 hour, 46 minutes in)
As Batman and Robin storm Riddler’s huge lair (seriously, who paid for this?) the island shifts, and part of it is raised into the air – with Robin on it. Batman is left below and climbs into a hatch on the side of the silo. However Robin comes face to face with the man with two faces, and seemingly defeats him – and in Robin’s character climax, he ultimately decides to spare Two-Face, saying he’d rather see him in jail than in hell. Two-Face uses this moment to pull a gun on Robin and take him hostage.
The most practical setting for technology research.
CLIMAX (~ 1 hour 50 minutes – 1 hour 54 minutes in)
Finally coming face to face with Nygma and Dent, Batman is forced to choose between saving Robin or Chase. They’re suspended above a long fall into a rocky watery grave. Riddler, claims that Batman can’t save them both (just like Bruce can’t continue being both Bruce Wayne and Batman). But Batman manages to throw a batarang to destroy Nygma’s machine, and swoops down, managing to save both Chase and Dick as they fall. He can save both of them, because he can be both Bruce and Bats (Chase symbolizes Bruce Wayne, Dick symbolizes Batman). Then Two-Face manages to catch up with them, and Batman manages to convince Harvey to toss the coin to decide their fates, and as he does, Bats tosses a bunch of other coins up, confusing Two-Face and causing him to fall to his death.
Dent is dead, Nygma is locked up in Arkham, and now due to the destruction of his machine, can’t remember that Bruce Wayne is Batman. Bruce and Chase meet outside, and kiss.
Now like I said before – this story had so much potential, and somehow it got goofed up along the way.
The script I found is actually very close to the finished film in a lot of ways although many scenes were either cut that were considered to grown up, or moved around.
- The first scene in the script where they show how Dent escaped from Arkham was cut
- The scene where Bruce meets Nygma is actually essentially the second scene in the script, but it shows up in the film considerably later (about 20 minutes in)
- Sugar and Spice (Two-Faces henchwomen) were named Leather and Lace and their scenes were a little more risqué.
- In the film, Alfred asks Bruce why he keeps doing what he’s doing – his parents are avenged, the Wayne foundation contributes money to anti-crime programs, etc. In the script, Bruce asks these things, and specifically mentions Jack Napier by name.
- A short sequence where Bruce suffers a little amnesia after being shot by Two-Face (this was shot, but cut from the film)
- Batman doesn’t throw more coins to Two-Face to make him fall, Two-Face simply tosses the coin a little too far and loses balance trying to reach out to grab it.
- Chase seems to forget that Bruce is Batman for some reason after Bats saves her from Two-Face, but seems to know it in the final scene… and in the final scene, Bruce isn’t there, just Alfred.
It’s a shame really, because this could have been such a good movie about the struggles with duality (a theme very present in The Dark Knight… because Two-Face is a villain that represents that aspect of Bruce’s psyche).
The biggest problem with the final film though, is that Two-Face is essentially The Joker… his characterization is an over-the-top psycho with an obsession with Batman – it’s not about what he perceives as “justice” – he just seems to love chaos and anarchy.
What this film does is teach us something about screenwriting – you can write a wicked screenplay, and have it turned into a bad movie.
Script (dated June 24, 1994)