It’s fair to say that George Clooney’s single turn as the Dark Knight in Batman & Robin wasn’t one of his career highlights, with the campy blockbuster effectively putting the franchise on ice until 2005. In recent months, Clooney has been pretty open about his views on the film and his performance, and seems to be philosophical about the whole experience. The actor has now shared more thoughts about what Batman & Robin taught him about his craft and how it’s indirectly helped on the path to better roles.
Clooney had this to say about where he was in his life when he signed on for Joel Schumacher’s movie:
“I’d gotten killed for doing Batman & Robin and I understood for the first time — because quite honestly when I got Batman & Robin I was just an actor getting an acting job and I was excited to play Batman — what I realized after that was that I was going to be held responsible for the movie itself not just my performance or what I was doing. So I knew I needed to focus on better scripts, the script was the most important thing.”
It’s fair, then, that the experience with the backlash against Batman & Robin made Clooney cautious about taking on the lead in a major studio picture, at least without making sure of the quality of a screenplay. The years before the film saw him build on the success of ER to appear in everything from romantic comedies to Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn, making his move into a superhero lead a seemingly natural next step.
Things changed quite considerably for Clooney after playing Bruce Wayne, including collaborations with Steven Soderbergh and the Coen Brothers, and his own move into directing. His brief time in the Batsuit was enough of a career misfire, though, for Clooney to warn Ben Affleck about the risks of assuming the role, albeit later admitting that his worries were unfounded.
Batman & Robin remains a curiosity in the history of superhero and Hollywood filmmaking, coming at a time when Arnold Schwarzenegger was paid a ridiculous amount of money to deliver some painful quips, and before Marvel established themselves with the X-Men franchise. Although we’ll be seeing Michael Keaton return to screens as the Tim Burton-era Batman, it’s very unlikely that Clooney’s take on the character will get a second outing. It’d be fun, though, to at least get some kind of nod to the Schumacher pictures in The Flash or other future DCEU projects.