The Golden Age of comic book movie flops: Part Three
The conclusion of my three-part series on the worst portrayal of comic book characters on the big screen. This time, the Batman franchise is under scrutiny.
Christian Bale as Batman
Christian Bale – “chain-smoking” Batman
I’m sure this first one will raise some eyebrows, given the popularity of Christopher Nolan’s Batman. I will tackle The Dark Knight Rises in a future blog, but for now Christian Bale is on the hot seat. The thing with Christian Bale is that his Bruce Wayne isn’t horrible. I don’t think it’s perfect by any means, but he has made this list solely for Wayne’s alter ego. The way that Bale voices Batman is not the gritty, deep voice of Batman, but one that makes me cringe every time I hear it. Batman sounds like he is dying of emphysema after a long life of chain-smoking. It is beyond terrible. I have to say that the best Batman to date was Michael Keaton. Still not a perfect Bruce Wayne, but something magical happened when he donned the costume. If there are future Batman movies, the casting pros should really try to get back to that when casting the Great Detective.
The comic book Two-Face
Tommy Lee Jones – Harvey Dent / Two-face
First it was Billy Dee Williams (who should technically also be on this list). Then Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever. Then Aaron Eckhart. The Batman movies go through Harvey Dents as much they go through Batmans. I thought we were stuck with terrible Harvey Dents. Then came Aaron Eckhart and boy, was he awesome. He deserved to continue on in the series more than most. But it seems in the world of Batman, the prize for an amazing performance is you get yourself killed. Makes sense after all; one wouldn’t want to keep too many good actors around for the franchise.
After viewing Aaron Eckhart in action, Tommy Lee Jones became all the more laughable. Harvey Dent is a serious guy, and when he becomes Two-Face he gets downright dangerous. Yet Tommy Lee Jones felt it was a comical character, as if it came from a Bugs Bunny cartoons and not the dark streets of Gotham. Or maybe he thought he was playing The Joker. Facial mutilation, after all, can become quite confusing. Chemical waste, acid in the face…it’s all the same in the end, right? Whatever the reason, Jones was a terrible choice for Two-Face, starring in a terrible movie with a terrible director. He was headed for disaster from the word go.
Must've been cold in the Batcave
The entire cast of Batman & Robin
Arguably one of the worst comic book movies of all time, Batman & Robin is a carnival of childish sets, a script that is 90% one-liners, and nipples on the Batsuit, Robin-suit and Batgirl suit. There were enough butt and groin shots to last a lifetime. Had the actors even bothered to try, they would not be on the list, but the movie is made worse by acting attempts that should have rendered all of the actors ineligible for acting jobs for the next fifty years. Even Joel Schumacher apologized for the film in the special features section of the DVD. It didn’t help. Here we go with the breakdown.
George Clooney – Bruce Wayne / Batman
There was nothing appealing when George Clooney played the caped crusader in Batman & Robin. Clooney didn’t even bother to disguise his voice when he wore the costume. His Bruce Wayne seemed to be the same as every other character he has ever played. His method of playing Wayne was cheeky and campy, versus the anguished Wayne we know and love. Batman is one of the darkest superheroes out there, yet Clooney turned him into a joke. And then there were the one-liners, delivered in a manner that told audiences he really didn’t care about the movie or character in the least. He just wanted a payday. At some point, when your character flashes a Batman credit card, the actor himself should have heard his losing dignity alarm go off. Apparently, Clooney pushed the snooze button on that one.
Batman & Robin movie poster
Chris O’Donnell – Dick Grayson / Robin
Chris O'Donnell added to the list of bad performances in Batman & Robin as Captian Obvious...I mean, Dick Grayson / Robin. Consider this dialogue:
Batman: “Poison Ivy. Why would she help Freeze escape?”
Robin: “Well, she’s definitely evil.”
Our young Dick Grayson has much wisdom to dispel, if only it wasn’t completely covered in idiocracy. O’Donnell made no attempts to help the poor writing with his acting. The sad thing is, he was not the worst actor in the movie. They were all just so bad that even some small attempt at acting is better than the others. The relationship between Grayson and Wayne was virtually non-existent. I felt no connection between the two, let alone enough connection to make them fight about trusting each other and being a family. It takes more than bad writing to make two characters seem thrown together at the last minute. Even with bad writing, had the actors made an attempt at a relationship it would have been better.
Alicia Silverstone – Barbara Wilson / Batgirl
Alicia Silverstone has two acting faces: confused and more confused. Or maybe one of them was constipated. Whatever the case, Batgirl had no business whatsoever being in the film, let alone writing her as Alfred’s long-lost niece. Changing Barbara Gordon’s last name to Wilson does not make it okay to take such liberties with the character. Even if they felt that Batgirl absolutely had to be in the movie, Silverstone should have been the last person on their list. My only explanation is that she was the only person in all of Hollywood that was available. Let’s also not forget that the fact Uncle Alfred designed her Batgirl costume is super creeeeeeepy.
Poison Ivy minus the foliage
Uma Thurman – Dr. Pamela Isley / Poison Ivy
Looking back on the performance of Uma Thurman in Batman & Robin, I suddenly realize where Halle Berry got her acting cues for Catwoman. Though the always gorgeous Thurman should have made an ideal Poison Ivy, she ruined it with a terrible performance. Thurman’s acting was so subpar that an elementary school drama production has better actors than her. She slurs out her lines in an attempt to be sultry. Instead she sounds almost drunk. This is the Poison Ivy you pick up in a bar at last call. It wasn’t just her acting, but the costuming as well. Her hair was styled with two horns that almost looked like bunny ears and almost all of her costuming was missing the trademark Poison Ivy foliage. Let’s just say, as evil as Poison Ivy is, even she didn’t deserve this treatment.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Dr. Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze
In Batman & Robin, we learned that Mr. Freeze was Austrian. Surprise! Arnold is the king of one-liners and he didn’t disappoint us. If you ever wanted to know how many puns there are for ice, just watch this movie and learn. In fact, I have seen several drinking games for Batman & Robin that include this very topic on Mr. Freeze.
With his acting in terrible shape, the character himself was just as bad. Mr. Freeze is one of those villains that has a sad story as to how he became who he is today. He is a tragic villain. The problem with that tragedy is that it can come across badly on film if overacted. Instead of subtlety, Arnold goes from crazy to sad to sad crazy and back to crazy in no time at all. He almost seems to be suffering from multiple personality disorder, rather than a rough life. I truly did not care one bit for his problems with the wife during this movie, nor did I care about him. I just wanted the torturous movie to end.