Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin stood on thin ice from the moment it entered theaters. No wonder it's long been considered one of the worst movies ever made. From the wooden acting to the bonkers set design, the film is regarded as a wall-to-wall mess. But as bad as the film is perceived, everything going on behind the scenes of Batman & Robin was even crazier. The ridiculous stories from the set of Batman & Robin showcase what it takes to run a beloved property into the ground.
When Schumacher made Batman Forever, he wasn't able to match the cool of the first two Tim Burton films, but he made something watchable, with style all its own. (Even if the two A-list villains didn't exactly get along.) With Batman & Robin, the director was working under massive time constraints and with some of the worst superhero performances ever recorded. It’s no wonder this is considered the worst Batman movie ever made.
If you repressed all memory of this big budget stinker, it's time to learn what made the filming of Batman & Robin such a nightmare.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's costume is insane in Batman & Robin. He's spray-painted silver and wears giant silver Transformers parts. Even though Schwarzenegger was covered in a toxic, flammable substance, the worst part was the LED light that had to go in his mouth during close-ups.
The LED had batteries in it that would leak acid into Schwarzenegger's mouth when his saliva hit the casing.
Makeup artist Jeff Dawn explained the oral nightmare:
When you put it in Arnold's mouth, Arnold's saliva would creep into the seams of this thing and attack the batteries. The batteries would immediately start disintegrating and start putting out battery acid into Arnold's mouth.
Outside interference is one of the biggest threats to tentpole franchises. Undesired influence can lead to a "too many cooks..." situation, which inevitably results in an overstuffed piece of cinema.
The pre-production for Batman & Robin sounds like a disaster. The toy company working on merchandise started giving input on the film and even helped design the Batmobile. In a commentary piece released after the fact, director Joel Schumacher said Warner Bros. didn't care if he made a good movie, as long as it was “toyetic.” The behind-the-scenes reel also features Chris O'Donnell claiming that while Batman Forever was a "real movie," Batman & Robin felt like a "toy commercial."
For 20-year-old Alicia Silverstone, Batman & Robin should have been a huge steppingstone for her career. Unfortunately, her body was subject to an intense level of scrutiny by the media, fans, and crew.
It's hard to identify the worst indignity Silverstone had to face while filming, but at one point, a storyboard artist drew an illustration of Batgirl trying to squeeze into a corset that left the young star mortified. The artist said, "I did it as a movie poster, Clueless 2: The Casting of Batgirl. It was a private joke, just for the guys in the art department."
That's where the "joke" should have ended, but unfortunately, a PA decided to make copies to hang around the office. The lead costume designer saw it "and had a sh*t fit. I think the quote was, 'She is trying so hard!' Luckily for me, I never signed it. So I got to keep working."
Silverstone did, however, admit that she "stopped loving acting for a very long time" after her experiences on set for Batman & Robin. In an interview with The Guardian, she said, "I knew that it was not right to make fun of someone’s body shape, that doesn’t seem like the right thing to be doing to a human." Luckily, she also knew acting was what she "was meant to do." She continued, "I love it so much, I need to find a way... to be able to be an actress and be an activist at the same time."
Not only did the guy playing Mr. Freeze get top billing, but he also received a $25 million salary - which works out to around $1 million per day - while on set. Producer Peter MacGregor-Scott later claimed "The cast ate the money up. It's tough when you wake up in the morning and just spent $25 million!"
No one else was demanding a salary that rivaled the GDP of a small nation, but Schwarzenegger's take still put a dent in the film's budget.