BATMAN FOREVER: What Could've Been Author: Bill "Scissor Puppy"
May 8, 2005
10 years ago, we were experiencing a similar sense of anticipation as we are now. Although the net is a much stronger force of information now than it was then, we still craved every last bit of information on Batman, if a bit harder to come by. I'm not going to turn this into a reminiscing piece, as other's have already done that, and aside from personal experiences, I don't think I can add to it. Jett and others have captured what it was like to be an eager Batfan looking for information in early 1995. This article is about the hidden gem we hopefully will soon see.
This is not about the deleted scenes in general. This is about what to expect from a possible Joel Schumacher (or someone else) extended cut. Not all the ideas expressed in this article will be facts, because quite frankly we won't know the facts until that long awaited DVD is in our hands. What will be discussed are the deleted scenes, time-line, and what to expect based on various sources. We will also try to weed out the false stories and unlikely hopes.
Basically we are going to cover the definite, the maybe, and the not going to happen. We are not going to discuss slight changes from the script, A script is a path, it doesn't dictate how you choose to go down it. Minor dialog changes and scenes playing out differently are just that, different. Why go into detail when you guys can just read the script. I'm only following the script for 2 reasons: to maintain an idea of what the original time line is, and to get a glimpse at what to expect from the known deleted scenes. This is not a script to screen comparison, it's a look at what to expect from the extended cut. When possible pictures will be added to help the topic at hand. I will also go into a few areas with stories I've heard from folks in the industry, mainly about some of Jim Carry's improv on certain scenes.
First off I'd like to address some of the rumors surrounding the unseen footage in Batman Forever. While doing some research online, I've found that there are a lot of people out there who seem to have been misled, or let their minds run wild with ideas on what to expect from this new version of the film.
1. MAN-BAT is not in this film, There isn't some deleted sequence featuring a fight in the batcave, between Bruce Wayne and Man-bat. This originally popped up at IMDB.COM a few years ago, rumor has it that Bruce Wayne awakes after being knocked out by the Riddler and walks down to the Batcave. Only to be attacked by the Man-Bat. Bruce fights this thing in a spectacular sequence until Robin jumps on the scene and realizes that the Man-Bat is only a hologram that is being run by the Bat Computer, which was hacked into by the Riddler. UM, can you say BULLCRAP! Needless to say, the rumor was so retarded that IMDB took the "trivia" piece down.
The giant bat in the film is the same bat in the extended version, his purpose is just a little more meaningful. So strike that one out, if you ever hear that again.
2. BURTON style ending to FOREVER? Yes it's true. The script did originally call for, and Schumacher did shoot an ending that would fit in tone with the last shots of the previous two films. But guess what? This is not a picture of it. It's clearly footage of the real life Batman committing suicide after watching a sneak preview of BATMAN AND ROBIN back in 1997 (JUST KIDDING).
This is a picture of 2 stuntmen dressed in Batman & Robin outfits on a small smoke-filled sound stage. This was footage filmed for the Acclaim video/arcade game commercial that was released shortly after the film. The stuntman playing Batman is wearing the panther suit. In the real finale scene (Which we will talk about later ), Batman is wearing the sonar suit. As you can see Batman jumps off the building falling directly into the camera frame. I have the commercial on VHS from a BATMAN FOREVER promo, You can clearly tell that it is not Kilmer, or anyone who resembles him enough to be a double in a close up shot.
3. BATMAN '89 sets in FOREVER? Nope, this is not a deleted scene from BF. This picture has been connected with a lot of made up scenes. The most common explanation of the picture is connected with a deleted scene of Batman driving around Gotham constantly being tricked by the Riddler's control over the city. Well something similar in form does exist in the script and was filmed but this isn't it. Why? Well anyone who has seen the film knows that Robin doesn't appear in full gear until just before the climax of the film. What's he doing there?
Another is that an "Intro" to the opening of the next film was shot, where Batman and Robin pull up to the Gotham Museum and run into battle Mr. Freeze as the film fades to black, with a BACK TO THE FUTURE style credit that says "TO BE CONTINUED." Never happened. For one, why is the destroyed Batmoblie there? Shouldn't there have been a new car or something else there? Also, why are they running out? Perhaps they ran in and saw what was to come in the next film and GOT THE F' OUT OF THERE!
The truth is something much less complicated folks. People in the U.S. should know about parks all across America called Six Flags, and also a few parks around the world called WB Movie World. Back in 1990, Six Flags opened a summer attraction stunt show to tie in with a Batman roller coaster they had opened in a few of their parks, I believe Atlanta and Los Angeles where some of the first to get them. Just about all the parks had a mini Gotham city (Based off of BATMAN '89s design) and featured this Batman Stunt Show. The show would be updated every year and have a make over every time a new Bat-film was released. I saw the show when I was 11 in the summer of 1992 in Atlanta. The Show featured The Joker, Catwoman and The Penguin.
In 1995 the park totally revamped the show for BATMAN FOREVER, with new cars, actors, suits, plotlines and stunts. Guess what? The main set didn't change much except for some lighting, That's why in this picture, the steps they are running down are from a scaled down version of Gotham City hall from BATMAN '89. This is nothing more than a promo photo from Six Flags parks for their summer '95 attraction. By the way, after B&R came out the show became a ridiculous joke, even worse than the film. Also, I've heard this was a scene from a Mickey D's commercial too, but I don't think so. It's possible but I doubt it. I know for a FACT it's connected to the Six Flags/Movie World parks.
NOTE: Recently, a lot of the Six Flag parks have drastically changed the stunt show to resemble the comics rather than the films. A lot of the parks Gotham City streets still resemble BATMAN '89 though. Some parks have even built an indoor stunt arena.
4. NEW DIGITAL IMAGE FROM BATMAN FOREVER DIRECTOR'S CUT? Remember that "rumor" that said Joel is going to oversee some tweaked effects work for the new cut? Well that's still a rumor and this isn't a digital image from it. Notice the zoomed in pic, What is that? Evidently someone thought that Warner Bros had given Joel enough money to create a whole new CGI Gotham and also some sort of flying car chase. There's not really a story behind the pic except someone tried to pass it off as a new image from the directors cut.
5. COOL DELETED SCENES OF GOTHAM AND BATMAN? This one really gets me, seriously. Anyone who's been a Batman fan long enough to know what BATMAN FOREVER is, should know about the OnStar commercials. Basically OnStar made a few commercials featuring Batman and some villains, The Bat-Suit was from B&R but repainted to be darker and a yellow oval was added to the chest emblem. BATMAN 89's Batmobile was used and the cityscape was a combination of Schumacher's lighting (albeit drastically toned down - less neon, more bluish) and the style of the RETURNS/FORVER/B&R city. Pretty cool commercials and they fit in well with the later part of the series. I wouldn't have minded if some of these aspects spilled over into a BATMAN 5 if the studio had chosen that route. But these are shots from the onstar ads and not BATMAN FOREVER deleted scenes. I read that these pics where from deleted car chases to alternate footage of Batman on a rooftop. Not True.
Well that's it for the various rumors I've heard, I will address some false hopes later in the opinion section.
Probably the most famous deleted sequence from BATMAN FORVER is the Two-Face jail break/"The Bat Must Die" sequence which was to open the film, Why? Because this is the one Warner Bros. did the worst job at hiding. It's featured in the comic book adaptation, the making of book, the novel, and magazines. Footage even showed up in the U2 music video and some TV spots and trailers. In fact, when I sat down to see FOREVER in the summer of 1995, I thought that the Two Face taking over the bank scene was going to be the end of the film, with the film shown through Two Face's point of view in flashbacks. I had the comic but only looked at the first few pages before showtime, as I didn't want to ruin the film. Therefore, I didn't know what the real ending was. I thought the film started out as this being Two Face's last battle with Batman and then it would flashback to the Arkham escape scene. I kept waiting, and waiting and suddenly I was 30-minutes into the film, guessing they had cut it out.
Throughout the entire film, I kept wondering why would they cut out such a cool moment?
Later on that night, I was excited and disappointed at the same time, I liked the new direction of the Batman film, and I was glad Schumacher didn't choose to emulate Burton to the tee. Like most people I left the theater that night both happy and sad. I told you I wasn't going to make this article a nostalgia piece, but as I'm writing now, I can see in some spots it may turn into that.
It was at this time - with these feelings of being torn between Schumacher's popcorn and Burton's art - that I started to realize something was wrong with the film. On the way home I decided to read the comic version of the film I had picked up just prior to the screening. I noticed that the entire front of the film was re-arranged. Scenes where out of order and misplaced, along with scenes missing all together. At 14 I was naive to think, that someone who had assembled the film at the theater made a mistake and switched a few reels, possibly leaving one out.
Later that night, E! ran a behind the scenes special on BATMAN FOREVER, I watched it and low and behold a few things I didn't remember seeing in the theater showed up. For one, the U2 video was part of the special and featured the Arkham escape footage. A few shots that overplayed during some interviews didn't seem to match up with what I had seen earlier that night.
The next day I decided to go with a friend to a different theater to see the film, hoping my assumptions where correct, hoping some jackass had screwed up my prior screening, I WAS WRONG. Something was wrong in Gotham, and it was a man with scissor's slicing up the new film.
It wasn't until a few years later after BATMAN AND ROBIN failed to please fans, that Schumacher announced he was going to release his director's cut on the new DVD format in the future. I remember reading this in "Starlog" magazine in 1998. I kept hoping for the release in 1999, and it's never happened. I really believe that WB has always intended to release the film's director's cut to tie in with the next Batman film. And since 1998, we've had rumored release dates in 1999, 2000, and 2001. When Nolan finally took over in late 2002, we now have 2005. So it seems we are finally going to get a hold of that footage!
Why was this footage cut? Time constraints. I must say given the obstacle of trimming a film, WB was either lucky or crafty with the re-arranged time-line. If you had not known anything about the films original sequence of events, you probably would have never noticed. But, there are some occurrences that show the film must have been cut very close to release date. A few are the fact when Bruce Wayne sees the Bat-Signal in the sky, while talking to Nygma at Wayne Tech, we hear sirens in the background. Why? Because this was originally supposed to take place before the Two-Face bank robbery scene. It was a missed sound edit, Why would sirens be screaming when the Commissioner is even surprised that the signal is up? Also a few moments later when Chase says "Last night at the bank, I noticed something about Two Face," this is over-dubbed. Look at her lip movement, as it's actually quite a horrible dub. The actual line was something more along the lines of "Last night at the Circus, I noticed something about Two Face". This would make sense as she actually saw Two Face at the circus, as she never laid eyes on him at the bank.
The original time-line goes something like this...
Two Face's Arkham escape.
Gotham City establishing shot (With alternate news commentary referring to the escape rather than the bank robbery).
Wayne Tech tour by Bruce Wayne, Conversation with Ngyma, Bat signal in sky, Batman's gearing up.
Two-Face bank robbery, helicopter flight/crash.
The Nygma murder of Stickly, Bruce at Wayne tech surveying the suicide scene.
Bruce visits Chase Meriden at her office, invites her to the circus.
Circus event, where Two-Face slaughters the Graysons.
Bruce taking Dick in as a ward and the garage scene.
Batman and Chase's meeting on the police headquarters rooftop.
Everything else, except for deleted scenes pretty much plays out the same in the theatrical version. As you can see, the order of events are changed quite a bit. As I said, it was either crafty editing on Schumacher/WB's part, or to quote Two-Face, it was "LUCK! Blind, Stupid, Simple, Doo-Dah, Clueless, LUCK!"
Schumacher himself has even stated that the original version of Batman Forever was over 2 hours and 40 minuets - that's a lot of footage. I also have a theory that some scenes were edited down and thus being sped up in the process. Take the Bank scene for instance - do you think it would play the same without the opening credits? I think a lot of footage was snipped from that sequence among others.
Below are the actual deleted extended scenes we know of - based off various sources and the script...
Extended sequence featuring conversation with Bruce and Alfred as he flies through the tunnel connecting WayneTech and the Batcave.
Extended moments/Dialog/Alternate takes all throughout the Bank Robbery/Helicopter scenes.
A local Gotham Talk Show featuring Chase Meriden as a guest, talking about Batman.
More footage of Nygma becoming the Riddler.
Extended scene at the casino robbery, where the Riddler fails at punching the security guard - he then beats the man down with his cane.
Extended shots of the Circus attack.
Extended scenes of Alfred and Bruce examining the Nygma Tech "Box."
Extended conversation in the Riddler/Two Face team up scene.
Extended moments to the Batman/Dick alleyway conversation.
Extended shots of Bruce/Dick/Chase at the Ritz Gotham party. Other extended party shots/dialog as well.
Devolpment of the NgymaTech building on Claw Island, funded by the Riddler/Two Face's robberies. This features deleted scenes of Nygma visiting the site and the box press conference.
Extended scenes involving the Riddler at claw island, talking to Two-Face, reading the paper.
Deleted scene that features a philosophical conversation between Two Face, Riddler, Sugar and Spice as they take hits from the box.
Extended Wayne Manor raid sequence, featuring Bruce and Chase fighting Two Face and his thugs.
Also I knew a guy who worked on the film in post as a P.A. to the editor. He mentioned that there was a lot of unused footage of Jim Carrey's performance in the Batcave scene, hand every take was so different. A lot of it was incredibly funny. He said that he didn't understand the final edit of the scene because all the best parts where taken out.
Extended fight scene between Two-Face and Robin on Claw Island.
Also this one, an extended scene where the Riddler knocks Chase out by injecting her with some type of drug. He says to her " Nap time, gorgeous "
In addition to these extended/deleted scenes, there also seem to be large sequences that help the plot that were omitted.
One sequence would come directly after the casino robbery where Batman would be following a robbery signal on a tracking device in the Batmobile. He would show up at the crime scene and he would be at the wrong place - a beauty salon - in which a room full of girls laugh at him. He obviously was being tricked by the Riddler - who somehow managed to screw with the tracking device. The Riddler has been throwing Batman off the track. This would also explain why in the theatrical version Batman seems to give Riddler and Two Face moments of free reign over the city.
I think the most important sequence that has been talked about for ages is the extended resolution to the red dairy sub-plot. For all you that were hoping for something deeper in the deleted material this is it. This storyline really gives us more focus on Bruce's torment as Batman, and a much deeper meaning to the title "Forever."
Here is a section of the script (Thanks to BOF Forum member "Batman Beyond") that details the resolution to this storyline:
(From BATMAN FOREVER, @copy Warner Bros. Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.)
INT. BRUCE`S BEDROOM - MORNING
Bruce is in bed, head bandaged. Alfred is walking a doctor to the door.
DOCTOR: The injuries are relatively minor. The shot did cause a concussion. Watch for headaches. Memory lapses. Odd behavior. I'll check back in a few days. Alfred ushers him out, returns to Bruce's bedside.
ALFRED: How are you feeling, young man?
BRUCE: Not that young. It's been a long time since you've called me that.
ALFRED: Old habits die hard. Are you alright?
BRUCE: As well as can be expected, I guess. Give me the bad news.
ALFRED: Dick has run away. They have taken Dr. Meridian. And I'm afraid they found the cave, sir. It's been destroyed.
BRUCE looks up at ALFRED, eyes narrow, puzzled. (This is where the scene ends in the released version of the movie).
BRUCE: The cave? What cave?
Or what's left of it. Melted ruin and rubble. BRUCE stands with a worried ALFRED, surveying the landscape (there is a photo of this scene, with Alfred and Bruce holding torches, that was used a lot in the 1995 publicity).
BRUCE: (disbelieving) I'm Batman? I remember my life as Bruce Wayne. (looking around) But all this. It's like the life of a stranger.
ALFRED: Perhaps the fall...
BRUCE: There's one other thing. I feel..
ALFRED: Bruce. Son. Listen to me. You are a kind man. A strong man. But in truth you are not the most sane man.
BRUCE: ...A bat.
BRUCE: I remember a bat. A monster. A demon. Chasing me. (child's terror) Oh my God, Alfred.
ALFRED: No demons, son. (touching his head) Your monsters are here. Until you fact that, I fear you will spend your life fleeing them.
BRUCE stands before a dark, rocky mouth. Through this passage, the cave as it once was, sweating granite, a shifting world of shadow. Bruce steps inside.
INT. INNER BATCAVE FAVOR BRUCE as he walks deeper into the darkness. The walls around him undulate, as if covered in water. WALLS - CLOSER. The movement isn't water at all. It's the restless shrugging of bats. Thousands of bats. Bruce presses on. Sweat beads on his face. Ahead, a diffusion of moonlight illuminates a curving rock chamber, bats here too bringing the walls to life. Bruce moves into the moonlight. Looks up.
BRUCE - POV. A narrow chute. The fall he took as a child. He kneels, there on the floor, worn by years of weather, a single book. A diary. Bruce kneels, touches the leather cover, fingers lingering for a moment on his father's embossment, before he turns yellowed pages to the last entry. Painfully, by moonlight, he reads.
BRUCE: (OVER)(dreaded confirmation) Bruce insists on seeing a movie tonight...
He pauses, gathers himself. He continues.
BRUCE (OVER): But Martha and I have our hearts set on Zorro, so Bruce's cartoon will have to wait until next week. Bruce stares at the book in disbelief. Then he looks up at the moonlight, tears streaming down his face.
BRUCE: ...Not my fault. It wasn't my fault.
Suddenly, in the darkness ahead, a dark shape moves, head rising, slits opening to reveal two blood red eyes. The giant monarch bat (see picture above) spreads its wings, huge, as it rises, suddenly airborne, rushing toward him. BRUCE - CLOSE. And terrified. He turns to run. The bat's flapping wings BEAT like drums, closing fast. Bruce holds his ground. Resolved. He turns and faces the monster, SCREECHING towards him, glistening fangs barely inches from his face. Something remarkable happens. The bat holds its position, stares into Bruce's eyes, wings spreading wide. A beat. Then Bruce raises his arms, a living mirror. The two stand facing each other, man and bat. In the moon- light on the wall, their shadows begin to blend, to merge, becoming one _SHIMMERING WHITE LIGHT!_
The mouth of the inner cave. A sudden SCREAMING DIN as a storm of bats explode into the cave, a shooting column of life and there, from within, steps a man.
ALFRED stands at the entrance.
ALFRED: Master, Bruce?
BRUCE:...Batman, Alfred. I'm Batman.
And for our final deleted scene, that mysterious one, that no one is really sure why it was deleted, the "Burton style" shot of Batman and Robin overlooking the city. The actual scene was shot in front of a blue screen and it's a lot different than the one we talked about earlier. I'm not to sure why Schumacher chose to re-shoot the ending, with the bobbling heads running towards the camera, backlit by the Batsignal. It defiantly doesn't serve the film well in comparison to this shot. I would prefer Joel reinserts this back into the film.
As you can probably tell, the scenes that were deleted weren't needed to tell a summer blockbuster popcorn film, but putting them back in context with the original time line, it makes the theatrical version seem like a long preview trailer for the real thing. And this is just taking into consideration what scenes we do know about. There's really no telling what else was shot, after all there are sections of the final shooting draft that differ from the finished film (As with any film really). All we have to go by is the script, trading cards, and 1995-era publicity. I think it will be safe to say some things might just surprise us when this is finally released. After all, with a rumored running time that exceeds the current version by 45 minuets, does all this deleted footage add up to that? Maybe, maybe not. I'm sticking to my theory that sequences in whole where re-edited to save time, on top of the deleted sections.
Expectations? Well, just what are we expecting? Let's seriously put this in context.
We are not going to be seeing anything that drastically changes the film. This is not a situation where the film was taken away from the director. Those who hated the film, may enjoy it a little more. Those who liked it, may start loving it. And those of you loved it to begin with are going to gloat for days.
Personally, I feel that the film as is, has lost the test of time. It was a great piece of 1995 pop culture but doesn't seem to have anything much deeper going on. My one and only hope is that the excised footage will change my mind. It's not a bad film as is - it's entertaining. But it just doesn't stick with you. The film was a lot of flash and bang, with little substance (unless you count homoerotic undertones). We now know that the substance was cut out. Personally I also feel the editing style and score didn't help the film at all. If the film would have slowed down a bit every now and then to catch it's own breath, maybe the audience would have able to as well. I'm referring to repeated viewings over the years, as the audience of 1995 seemed to enjoy the film.
Those of you that are hoping Schumacher will use Elfman's score in this new cut. Don't hold your breath. Schumacher is happy with the score he got, and it does fit the film. I also feel it drags it down. Actions that are slightly campy in the film seem blown out of proportion due to the score. Don't believe me? Try watching a few scenes of BATMAN RETURNS with Goldenthal's score and you'll see. There is no doubt in my mind that the Batmobile driving up a wall with a less piercing score would seem badass, rather than absurd with a different score behind it. After all, I don't recall the Batmissle being one of the larger problems people had with RETURNS. Try watching that car chase in RETURNS with the car chase music from FOREVER - HORRIBLE! I'll say it again, once the film's director's cut is released, the only thing holding it back from being a great 3rd entry into the old series will be the score. It's too campy and too overblown.
But if your looking for that to be changed, if your hoping for Schumacher to give into fan demand and ultimately change a film he was happy with, don't waste your time. Schumacher was very happy with his film, He knew he had to cut it down for time constraints and I doubt that he expected Warner to release a 2hr 45 min film. Today it would be a possibility, but 10 years ago it wasn't going to happen. We are talking about a time before LORD OF THE RINGS, HARRY POTTER and even TITANIC. If a film was over 2 hrs 15 min, it was considered way too long, especially for a summer popcorn film.
The long version of the film was screened in semi-rough form to see what the small audience reaction was to certain scenes to help the edit. Also because WB wanted to try and please everyone this time around, to get back the big box office of BATMAN '89. I believe this is basically the same version we will get for an extended director's cut. The time-line will be restored, the extended deleted scenes will be put back in and some of the effects shots that may not have been finished will be tweaked using modern computer technology. If you are looking for anything more than that, please don't. Schumacher is not going to "Burtonize" the film just so the threats will stop. Besides we are getting a whole new franchise this summer and all indications point to it being a good one. It's time to finally stop complaining, sit back and enjoy these films for what they were, are and what ground they broke (That goes for all you BATMAN RETURNS haters too!).
Here's hoping that the new series will learn from past mistakes.
I would like to thank Jett giving me a forum to write this article, and all who waited for it patiently.