Joel Schumacher - Director of "Batman & Robin" - Dead at 80

Joel Schumacher August 29, 1939 - June 22, 2020

Joel Schumacher has died.  He was 80 years old.  His death comes after a year long battle with cancer.

Schumacher was a controversial figure in the comic book industry.  Though his involvement in comics was limited (to be kind), he left a legacy on pop culture in the most dubious way possible: He directed "Batman & Robin," which is often considered one of the worst comic book movies of all time (also one of the worst in general, know).  The movie has inspired decades of jokes about nipples on superhero costumes, reignited the whole controversy on whether or not Bruce Wayne was gay, and was the source of a popular meme involving a 'Bat Credit Card.'

By every measure, this was a terrible movie.  And has had a lasting impact.  People will watch it because it is so bad it's entertaining.  It's one of the rare bad movies that people go out of their way to see and is actively recommended for people to watch.  It was so infamous, that the animated Batman series couldn't help but take a shot at it.

To the man's credit, he recorded a wonderful commentary track on the DVD where he apologized for the movie being as bad as it was and for offending the community.  The gesture went over so well that I feel comic book fans unofficially made the man an honorary comic book legend.  Besides, a man's life is typically more than one movie (some people - like Michael Cimino - are about two), and Schumacher directed quite a bit.  He also directed "Batman Forever," a movie that isn't loved by fans of the character, but certainly has elements of fun (particularly from Jim Carrey as The Riddler).  Before then he directed the cult classic "St. Elmo's Fire," the movie responsible for bringing 'The Brat Pack' to national stardom (as well as being home to a VERY catchy movie theme)!  Of his more successful achievements, he directed a movie version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's famous Broadway musical "The Phantom of the Opera," which received acclaim for it's costumes, sets, and managing to bring the stage show successfully to a movie audience.

Others enjoyed "The Client," which introduced the world to a new young talent by the name of Brad Renfro (who would later star in "Ghost World," one of the first critically acclaimed films based on an independent comic).  For me, my favorite film of his is "Phone Booth," a tense thriller starring Colin Ferrell as a business man being held hostage by a sniper.  I remember that film being one of the most tense films I had seen at that point i time, and even today it holds up as an example of great direction and editing!  I know Schumacher's place in the pop culture zeitgeist is always going to be mixed.  I can say the same of his films.  Yes he was a talented man.  He knew what was visually pleasing to the eye, and when he hit the nail on the head he did so with such a confident blow one couldn't help but take notice! 

For these reasons and many more, Joel Schumacher will be greatly missed!

"Batman & Robin" © Copyright Warner Media

Your Comic Book Guy - Kevin

Post a Comment