Joel Schumacher on the homophobic criticism of his 'Batman' movies: 'Batman and Robin are not gay'

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Joel Schumacher (Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini)

Director Joel Schumacher has weighed in on what he sees as the veiled homophobic criticism of his Batman movies.

Schumacher made both Batman Forever in 1995, with Val Kilmer as Bruce Wayne, and Batman & Robin in 1997, with George Clooney taking over from Kilmer and Chris O'Donnell playing Batman's sidekick Robin.

While the movies weren't necessarily high points in the Gotham cinematic canon, the nature of the criticism was markedly different than in previous instalments.

Batman & Robin in particular was accused of injecting a gay subtext into the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, not to mention the now infamous 'nipple suit' worn by Clooney in the movie.

Schumacher was also accused at the time of making the Batmobile look purposely more phallic.

Read more: The best and worst Batman actors

In a fascinating, wide-ranging interview with the director for Vulture, he's asked about suggestions he portrayed Wayne as a closeted gay man, and his use of camp one-liners (notably Clooney's Wayne not being 'the marrying type').

“If I wasn’t gay, they would never say those things,” he said.

Val Kilmer and Chris O'Donnell (Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

“This all started way before me. Long before I came along, someone wrote a whole thing about what the real message of fairy tales and children’s stories are. Snow White was all about having bad stepmothers. And Batman and Robin are two homosexual men living in a cave, living together. There’s always been this thing about Batman and Robin being gay.”

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Asked if he specifically addressed this in his movie, he replies: “No. Nor do I ever think Batman and Robin are gay. There were a lot of people who I would say, in one particular community, wanted George Clooney to be gay so badly.

American actors Alicia Silverstone, George Clooney and Chris O'Donnell on the set of Batman & Robin, directed by Joel Schumacher. (Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

“I think it happens with people that are romantic sex symbols who are on somebody’s wish list.”

Schumacher also says he regrets embarking on Batman & Robin in the first place.

“I shouldn’t have made a sequel, and that’s all there is to it,” he adds.

American actor George Clooney on the set of Batman & Robin, directed by Joel Schumacher. (Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

“I learned that sequels are only made for one reason. I’m sure that Batman Forever was the cheapest Batman movie ever made because Val didn’t get a lot of money, Nicole [Kidman] didn’t, Chris O’Donnell didn’t, and I didn’t. Tommy [Lee Jones] got a bit of a payday because he’d just won the Oscar for The Fugitive and Jim Carrey had already done Ace Ventura.”

The production of Batman Forever was famously fraught, however, something Schumacher also discusses, particularly the behaviour of Tommy Lee Jones, who played Two Face, towards Jim Carrey, who played the Riddler.

Jim Carrey, Chris O'Donnell, Val Kilmer, Joel Schumacher, Nicole Kidman and Tommy Lee Jones (Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

Schumacher confirmed that he had indeed call Jones 'an asshole' in a previous interview, before adding: “[Jones] was not kind to Jim Carrey when we were making Batman Forever. And I didn’t say Val [Kilmer] was difficult to work with on Batman Forever. I said he was psychotic.

“Tommy is, and I say this with great respect, a scene stealer. Well, you can’t steal the scene from Jim Carrey. It’s impossible. And I think that irked Tommy.

TWO-FACE (TOMMY LEE JONES) AND THE RIDDLER (JIM CARREY) CONSPIRE TO DESTROY BATMAN IN "BATMAN FOREVER" (Getty Images)

“No, he wasn’t kind to Jim. He did not act towards Jim the way an Oscar winner with a star on Hollywood Boulevard, being the oldest member of the cast, and having such a distinguished career and the accolades to go with it, should have acted towards Jim. But what happens on the set stays on the set.”

The truly legendary (and NSFW) story of Jim Carrey’s run-in with Jones at a Los Angeles restaurant, during which Jones expressed his hatred towards the Mask star, can be heard here...