Batman Forever and Batman & Robin director Joel Schumacher passed away at age 80 after his battle with cancer.
Schumacher retired from directing films in 2011 after the release of his film Trespass starring Nicholas Cage and Nicole Kidman. However, he did make a brief directorial appearance in the Netflix series House of Cards in 2013 during its first season.
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However, Schumacher’s films are among some of the highest and lowest points from the 1990’s and 80’s. In 1987 Schumacher brought to the screen the cult classic film The Lost Boys, a film about two brothers who move to southern California and find themselves in a battle between Vampires and Vampire Hunters. Starring Jason Patric and Corey Ham, The Lost Boys also brought actors like Kiefer Sutherland into the public eye and shot his career in stardom.
Schumacher kicked off the 90’s with another cult classic in 1990 with his film Flatliners. A film about five medical students who begin to experiment with “near-death” experiences which lead them to face dark consequences. After the success of The Lost Boys, Schumacher was allowed a larger budget for this next film he was producing. Sutherland returned along with the star power of Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts and William Baldwin.
With the success of his following films Falling Down and The Client, Schumacher was given the difficult task of replacing Tim Burton and taking over his esteemed Batman films with the next installment Batman Forever. Schumacher took a different approach to the franchise from what Burton had already had established, starting with the recast from Michael Keaton as Batman to Val Kilmer. Taking a campier and brighter version of Batman, Chris O’ Donnell introduced us to the return of Robin on the big screen since Burt Wards interpretation in the 1966 Batman film. But what this film so memorable were the feature film debut of Batman villains Two-Face played by Tommy Lee Jones and The Riddler played by Jim Carrey.
After the financial success of Batman Forever, Joel Schumacher returned in 1997 to direct the sequel Batman & Robin. Yet another recast for the Dark Knight, George Clooney was the next to take on the cape and cowl followed alongside Chris O’ Donnells return as Robin and more film debuts from Batman’s Rouges gallery including Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy.
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Despite the critical reception of his two Batman films, they were still massive financial successes and gave us the Batman films that were necessary for Warner Brothers to give the rebooted Nolan Trilogy that redefined Batman for this generation, without his films we wouldn’t have that iconic trilogy.
Aside from his Batman films though, when he wasn’t bringing the Dynamic Duo to the big screen, he was making other memorable films. His contribution to the film industry should not go unnoticed as a contributed director to the film industry and the successful careers of some of the biggest names in Hollywood today. Some of his other unforgettable films include A Time to Kill, 8MM, Tigerland, Phone Booth and The Phantom of the Opera, and The Number 23.