I should have paid attention to Noel Ransome’s 6.12 Vice interview with Joel Schumacher, who used to pick up the phone in the early to mid ’90s and whose work on Falling Down I always admired. Boiled down, the piece is about Schumacher apologizing for a couple of mild stabs at trying to eroticize Batman in a gay-friendly way — i.e., those bat nipples, that ass shot.
It seemed to me back in ’97 that Schumacher was saying to gay and sexually ambivalent moviegoers that if George Clooney‘s Batman was fuckable — “if” — that you might want to start things off by finger-tweaking his nipples. That was certainly implied. What was missing, I felt, was a velcro access flap on his bat-ass.
Ransome: “Is there anything you ever wanted to say to fans that went into Batman & Robin expecting something different?”
Schumacher: “They obviously had very high expectations after Batman Forever. But perhaps it was the more innocent world in comparison, I don’t know. I just know that I’ll always go down over the nipples on Batman starting with Batman Forever.”
Ransome: “Yes, I wanted to ask about the bat nipples. Please explain.”
Schumacher: “Ha! Such a sophisticated world we live in where two pieces of rubber the size of erasers on old pencils, those little nubs, can be an issue. It’s going to be on my tombstone, I know it.”
Schumacher: “Well, it was made by Jose Fernandez, who was our brilliant lead sculpturer. If you look at Batman and Batman Returns, it was the genius, Bob Ringwood, [who] created those suits, so by the time we got to Batman Forever, the rubber and techniques had gotten so sophisticated. If you look at when Michael Keaton appears in the first suit, you’ll notice how large it is. It was brilliant but the best they could do at the time. By the time Batman Forever came around, rubber molding had become so much more advanced.
“So I said, let’s make it anatomical and gave photos of those Greek statues and those incredible anatomical drawings you see in medical books. He did the nipples and when I looked at them, I thought, that’s cool. I mean did it really bother people that much? Did it bother you?”
Ransome: “It was just so different compared to what we were used to seeing on a Batman suit, you just couldn’t unsee it.”
Schumacher: “You know what? I really never thought that would happen. I really didn’t. Maybe I was just naive, but I’m still glad we did it.”