After the release of Batman Returns, Warner Bros. was in something of a difficult position. While they wanted to wallpaper their holiday mansions with $100 bills and Batman was the franchise to bet on, the extremely dark storyline of Batman Returns made it a harder sell to the intended audience, namely entire families. By now, they wanted something different for the next film, limiting Tim Burton to the role of producer and hiring Joel Schumacher to take over directing duties. And for good or for ill, Batman Forever was certainly different.Batman (nowVal Kilmer) is battling Harvey Dent / Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones), a struggle that gets tougher when Edward Nygma/The Riddler (Jim Carrey) enters the picture, as both have personal vendettas against the Bat. Batman finds an ally in orphaned acrobat Dick Grayson (Chris O'Donnell), who discovers Bruce Wayne's secret and becomes Robin with the initial intent of taking revenge against Two-Face, who killed his family. As a sub-plot, Bruce deals with a budding romance with psychiatrist Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman), something that naturally causes some problems because of his double-life.The movie is brighter and the tone is softer but other than that it is considered to still be an entertaining film. Kilmer's Bruce Wayne is generally comparable next to Keaton, but some fans have argued that he has a better build and physical resemblance to Batman — in fact, Bob Kane himself thought that Kilmer was the best Batman yet. Chris O'Donnell was a strong choice as Dick Grayson, mixing in elements of both the older Nightwing and the Jason Todd Robin. It's obvious that the film was attempting to appeal more to a broader audience, especially with the casting of Jim Carrey, who at the time was extremely bankable with children, and the broader attempts at humor and overall goofier plot. However, Carrey still played up the Riddler as a Large Ham, and his interpretation was considered rather favorable (except to critics that were tired of seeing Jim Carrey).Ultimately, the film proved somewhat divisive - die-hard fans of the darker Burton films rejected it outright, but Warner's gambit to cater to a larger audience payed off, and the box office results were $70 million higher than those of Returns. In general, the film was regarded as flawed but still entertaining. Unfortunately, the flawed aspects (cartoony villain personalities, over-dramatic action set pieces) were taken to the extreme and permeated Batman & Robin, the final film in the original Batman film series.
Batman Forever provides examples of:
90% of Your Brain : In the novelization, when the Riddler shows off his neon jacket, Chase gets an extra line where she warns Nygma that he's frying his mind with information: "There's a reason we only use twenty percent of our brains." (This was a common-known "fact" in 1995, later debunked.)
Many superhero movies (especially sequels) have a hard time managing the villains' origin and Evil Scheme while still making it feel like it is the hero's movie (even The Dark Knight has been criticized on that part). This movie actually dedicates a good portion to specifically Bruce Wayne and not just "Batman stops the bad guy."
While the Tim Burton movies are for the most part praised and loved, many people were unnerved with Batman's willingness to kill. Batman Forever manages to set up Batman's "no kill" rule rather plausibly, strongly suggesting that after killing the Joker for killing his parents, Bruce wasn't satisfied and kept killing criminals before he realized he had become a monster and learned to let go of revenge.
Adaptation Dye Job: Bruce Wayne has consistently been portrayed in comics and other adaptations as dark haired (or at the least with brown hair). Kilmer isn't quite as blonde as in his other films but he is certainly much more fair haired than the regular.
Author Appeal: Joel Schumacher saw fit to include shots of Batman's ass when trying on the new suit which also had nipples and a wedgie. Schumacher is utterly unrepentant on his commentary track, advising viewers to "get out more."
Gotham City is simply littered with ripped guys with well-oiled torsos. Every last one of Two-Face's Mooks, for instance.
Badass Normal: Dick earns his stripes well before he becomes Robin.
Badass in Distress: But he's still new to crime fighting, and has to be rescued by Batman in the climax.
Bat Deduction: Bruce discovers who the Riddler is through a series of riddles left to him, which he discovers is meant to indicate a series of numbers corresponding to letters of the alphabet. They spell out "M-R-E", which Bruce deciphers as "mystery" and "Mr. E", leading to the conclusion of Edward Nygma. However there was more to his conclusion than just the riddles, not the least of which is that Nygma started up a company to rival Bruce's in the wake of a crime wave from the Riddler and Two-Face, and combined with the circumstances under which he left Bruce's company, the leap wasn't hard to make.
Breakaway Pop Hit: U2's "Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me". Inverted with Seal's "Kiss From A Rose" (it was released the year before, but only became a smash hit after its inclusion).
Broken Ace: This film emphasizes Bruce Wayne as this. Everyone wants to be with him and Ed Nygma wants to be him. Deep down, he is an emotional train wreck.
Broken Aesop: Bruce spends the entire movie telling Dick he can't kill Two-Face because it's wrong and won't fix anything. Finally, towards the end, Dick (as Robin) learns his lesson and saves Two-Face from dying even though it means getting captured. And then Batman kills Two-Face anyway.
In the novel it's different; Batman attempts to stymie Two-Face by knocking his coin away. He catches it anyway, and then Robin calls him out on never turning the coin on himself. He checks the coin in his fist, and lets go of the girder he was clinging to. Robin then says he didn't mean to kill him, and Batman says that Two-Face just made his first choice in a long time.
Another person put it nicely as being a "kill or be killed" type of situation, since they were all trapped on a ledge while Two-Face has them at gunpoint, and Batman probably had no other options since he had to keep him from hurting Robin and Chase. Or maybe he didn't intend on making him fall to his death.
Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: Two-Face holds the entire circus hostage with the (fairly reasonable) logic that, since the audience is filled with the richest and most notable citizens of Gotham, one of them must surely either know Batman or be Batman - and sure enough, Bruce is watching the performance. He immediately stands up and tries to give himself up, but no one can hear him in the panic.
Two-Face: Surely one of you knows who Batman is. Hell, odds are one of you pasty-faced twits IS Batman!
Bullying a Dragon: Fred Stickley threatens to haul Edward Nygma before a federal tribunal and have him incarcerated in an insane asylum after Nygma has not only disobeyed a direct order from Stickley, but also hit him in the head with a coffee pot, tied him up, and subjected him to a highly unethical and potentially life-threatening neurological experiment. And on top of all that, he fires Nygma; Edward does not take this well, and his reaction is swift and terrible.
Calling Your Attacks: There wasn't a particularly good reason for Dick to exclaim, "Now!" just before leaping from the balcony to try and get into the Batcave.
Camera Abuse: Probably the film's creepiest moment is Nygma grinning into a Waynetech camera as he cuts the feed.
Camp: This put Joel Schumacher's love for camp on display, which was a breath of fresh air after the extremely grim overtones of the previous film. By and large, the camp was mostly the good kind - there was a lot more restraint than the next film, as the story, villains' plan, and Batman's issues were still taken seriously enough to care about.
Batman himself is noticeably the same character as the previous films; he takes the job seriously, doesn't joke around (besides deadpan quips) and patiently mentors Dick Grayson. In truth, besides the color scheme the only difference between this film and Batman Returns is that Forever seems far more aware of itself while Returns takes everything much more seriously (compare Penguins circus-themed gang to the neon-paint gang in this film).
Canon Foreigner: Chase Meridian was created for the film. Also, Dick Grayson never had a brother (not that his brother lived very long in the movie).
Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Nygma's has four different Riddler costumes over the course of the film(green suit and bowler, green spandex, black jacket with light-up question marks, silver-and-glitter bodysuit), and his hairstyle keeps changing color and length. The last two costume/hairstyle combos occur minutes apart during the climax.
To be clear, his fire-engine-red Riddler hairstyles are clearly meant to be wigs, which could be quickly swapped. His real hair only changes once, from the longish auburn mop he sports as a Wayne Tech lab geek to the dark, deliberately Bruce Wayne-ish coif he gets after becoming a multimillionaire entrepreneur.
Complexity Addiction: Addressed; when The Riddler offers to help Two-Face kill Batman in exchange for money to manufacture his Box devices, he convinces him that just offing the hero quickly and simply wouldn't be as emotionally satisfying as ensuring he was humiliated first by having his true identity revealed and used against him. Also referenced when Two-Face shoots Bruce Wayne, knocking him down, and as he's going to give a fatal shot, the Riddler stops him.
Riddler: "Don't kill him... If you kill him, he won't learn nothin'."
Two-Face cackles in sadistic agreement.
Composite Character: Strangely enough, the Riddler is a unique combination of the hyperactive spandex trickster of the Silver Age and the suave businessman-like personality of the Bronze Age. This was partially explained in the novelization by having his mind getting fried from using The Box; he is the trickster when in the Riddler costume and the businessman when acting as the CEO of NygmaTech.
Also, brainwashing the people of Gotham with high-tech headgear seemed more like a job reserved for the Mad Hatter (who more casual fans often mistake for Riddler, given the latter's fondness for bowler hats in the comics), and discovering that Bruce Wayne is Batman by using a machine that creates visuals of a person's mind was move made famous by Professor Hugo Strange on Batman The Animated Series.
Robin's origin is actually a composite of two comic-book Robins; in the comics, Two-Face killed Jason Todd's parents, and that element (along with Jason's desire for revenge) were imported into Chris O'Donnell's Dick Grayson character.
Bruce also subtly alludes to killing The Joker in the first movie when he tells Dick, who is adamant about killing Two-Face for the deaths of his family, that he knows from experience that killing for revenge won't bring him any peace.
Costume Copycat: Nygma showing up Bruce Wayne by wearing the exact same tuxedo and hairstyle.
Donning and removing a pair of reading glasses at the exact same times Wayne does and having a matching artificial mole put on his face to match Wayne's.
Create Your Own Villain: Bruce Wayne created the Riddler by turning down Nygma's brainwave manipulation ideas. In addition, Batman couldn't save Harvey Dent from getting a glass of acid in the face and becoming Two-Face.
Cut Edward Nygma a Check: Played with. He tries to make money honestly but after being rejected and funding it with Two-Face's crimes he still makes billions on "The Box" technology. If he wasn't obsessed with Bruce Wayne and Batman he could have lived a very comfortable, lavish life.
Assuming nobody eventually looked too close at the company's initial books....
Darkest Hour: Say what you will about the "lighter and softer," but in this film Batman comes closer to defeat than he does anywhere else in the series.
Alfred: They've taken Dr. Meridian. Master Dick has run away. The Batcave has been destroyed. And there's another riddle.
Death by Secret Identity: Both Two-Face and Riddler aren't able to do much with their information, which is disappointing since The Riddler had all that tech to broadcast Bruce's secret, but he went insane instead. And Two-Face was even unluckier.
Batman smashes the Ridder's giant box, causing his brain to overload with information. The novelization shows Nygma Brought Down to Normal again, unable to remember how his gadgets worked and feebly trying to piece them together.
"... but your pain doesn't die with Harvey, it grows. So you run out into the night to find another face, and another, and another, until one terrible morning you wake up and realize that revenge has become your whole life. And you won't know why."
Humorously averted by Riddler: "No! Don't kill him! If you kill him.... he won't learn nuthin'!"
Ignored Confession: Two-Face is about to detonate the bomb in the circus when Bruce Wayne stands up and proclaims that he's Batman in order to stop the murder, but the audience has erupted into a frenzy and nobody notices Wayne's confession.
Inkblot Test: Bruce comments on a Rorschach Test on Chase's wall, mistaking it for a painting of a bat.
Bruce: Do you have a thing for bats?
Chase: That's a Rorschach, Mr. Wayne. People see what they want to.
There have actually been arguments put forward that, in many ways, this movie is as dark as the Burton films. Bright neon makes the city look garish and ugly, at least as much as the gothic look of the older films. In many ways the Gotham shown in this film is an almost Blade Runner-esque dystopia obsessed with looking glamorous and getting away from reality. One comic artist specifically complimented the use of neon and bright colors, figuring that a town run entirely by greed and crime would look like Las Vegas, ie Sin City.
It's also more psychological than the first two, going into greater depth on why Bruce is Batman, his realization of what the superhero lifestyle has done to him, and the possibility that he might give up the mantle.
Loads and Loads of Characters: A common complaint regarding the Schumacher films was trying to work in as many villains and good guys as possible (apparently trying to top the 3 villains in Returns), often with little rhyme or reason.
Ms. Fanservice: Nicole Kidman in her hottie prime naked under a silk bedsheet. Don't question, just enjoy. Or her using the Batsignal to strip in front of Batman and try and seduce him.
Mythology Gag: There are a few of these regarding Robin. The "holey rusted metal" bit is a reference to the '60s show, and when pondering what his superhero alias should be, Dick Grayson considers "Nightwing". The Flying Graysons outfits are a combination of the original Robin costume and the one from Batman The Animated Series (which was in turn based on Tim Drake's Robin costume in the comics).
Also one to the greater DCU, when Bruce mentions the circus must be half way to Metropolis.
Robin's conflict with Two-Face is a reference to Jason Todd, the second Robin in the Bat-comics, who was confronted with the same decision.
One of the alter-egos Nygma came up with was "The Puzzler", who was a villain in the 1960's Batman series.
The exterior shot of Nygma's apartment shows that it's located next to a sign advertising the Criss-Cross Cleaning Company. In his first comic appearance, the Riddler hijacks a similar sign to pose a riddle to Batman.
Riddler's jibe to Two-Face, "That's never gonna heal if you don't stop picking." Ho ho ho! *cocks gun*
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Bruce flakes off on Nygma to answer the Bat-Signal, which turns out to be another come-on by the amorous Dr. Meridian. A criminal career and megalomaniacal plot to enslave Gotham could have been avoided here!
The Nicknamer: Nygma enjoys referring to Harvey as, "O segregated one", and "bifurcated one".
Television's often called "the idiot box," isn't it? Also, "The Box" is just a brand name... it's nondescript enough to be the most talked-about item on the shelves.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: On the one hand, The Riddler is played by Jim Carrey at the height of his Large Ham comedy days, he looks ridiculous in the Riddler outfits, and he's just plain weird. On the other hand, he blows up the Batcave and most of Bruce's equipment with it, including the Batmobile and his suits, founded and built a hugely successful company and made a fortune from it, became a super-intelligent genius with his invention, and if not for his need to have Bruce live so he could show him up, he could have flat killed him. Until the Nolanverse brought in Bane, none of the other film villains before or since have done so impressively. The only reason Batman and Robin even make it to his base is because he didn't anticipate Batman having a Batcave under the Batcave.
Oh Crap: The Riddler, when he realizes Batman has foiled his plan. "Bummer."
One-Winged Angel: It would have been played with. Original drafts of the script called for the Riddler to have become grossly muscled and huge when Batman finds him on Claw Island at the end. Batman assumes it's a side-effect of the Box process, and pities him. Then it's subverted; the Riddler hasn't been changed at all, he's just wearing a big muscled suit to mess with Batman some more, and he steps out of it. This was cut from the final draft, but was cut late enough to make it into the Novelization and the video game adaptations.
Overshadowed by Awesome: Dr. Chase Meridian is apparently proficient at boxing with a punching bag and succeeds in keeping off Two-Face's goons for some time, but still has to be rescued by Batman like ye olde Damsel in Distress.
Tommy Lee Jones replaced Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. The studio had to buy out Williams' contract, as his contract included him playing Two-Face, but the studio wanted to go with Tommy Lee Jones instead.
Race Lift: A very strange example. Billy Dee Williams played Harvey Dent in the first film, which was in itself a race lift from the comics where Dent was nominally white (his exact appearance depended on the artist, sometimes he was vaguely Italian). This movie is supposedly set in the same continuity as the first film but Tommy Lee Jones was cast to play the character. So this is an example of a reversed race lift in the same continuity.
Rich Idiot with No Day Job: In comparison to the earlier films where Bruce Wayne was much more reclusive, this film has him as a charismatic socialite who actually pays attention to his company.
Rule of Funny: Commissioner Gordon hurrying over to the Bat-Signal rooftop in his nightgown. He didn't even get dressed?
The Sadistic Choice: The Riddler poses one to Batman at the climax: either save Chase or save Robin (a choice that also represents his two personas: Bruce and Batman). Obviously, he manages to rescue both, although the movie tries to admit a bit more realism by having Batman make the second catch damn close to reaching the Spikes of Doom.
The novelization, by Peter David, subverts it entirely. Batman catches the unconscious Chase, then looks for Robin, only to not find him entirely. He wonders if he could've fallen all that way, that fast, and calls out "Robin!" in despair. Robin, having braced himself on the inside of the tube, replies "Whatcha want?"
The Scream: Once the Riddler is bloodied and broken, Batman good-heartedly offers to help him to his feet — only for the Riddler to recoil in abject terror. All he sees is a giant bat.
See You in Hell: Two-Face says this to Robin while hanging from a ledge. Robin responds by rescuing him and saying, "I'd rather see you in jail!"
She lists the the suspect's actual symptoms- ie. homicidal obsession. She has no plans of killing either Bruce or Batman, at all, nor is she anywhere near that obsessive or self-centred, so no, her fixation is completely different.
Sissy Villain: The friggin' Riddler. He's so flaming it's amazing his hair doesn't catch on fire.
Stalker with a Crush: Chase Meridian is a rare heroic example. Edward Nygma/The Riddler can be seen as one of these, too - at least if you believe the Foe Yay theory.
Chase is just intellectually curious (maybe more than normal) and romantically attracted; Nygma is an actual stalker, posting sinister mail to his target, having photos and newspaper clippings of them all over his office and home, and dealing with their rejection by plotting to show up, humiliate and eventually kill them. The worst Chase does is hijack the Batsignal, which she semi-justifies by talking about Two-Face's psychological weaknesses.
Maybe. As seen on the Fridge page, there's a theory that he was counting each clear shot at Bruce as a separate attempt deserving a separate toss.
In the end Two-Face forgets his shtick entirely, and Batman has to remind before he Just Shoots Him.
Un-Confession: Bruce Wayne tries to announce his identity as Batman to a circus tent full of people in order to stop Two-Face from releasing his massive bomb, but nobody hears him over the screams of the panicked crowd.
Vengeance Feels Empty: The film references this trope when Batman tries to persuade Dick Grayson not to pursue his revenge against Two-Face.
Verbal Tic: With the exception of a single line, Two-Face constantly refers to himself as "we."
Villain with Good Publicity: Edward Nygma becomes this when he uses the profits from his alter-ego's crime spree with Two-Face to start his own company and his "Box" devices become hugely popular.
Villainous Breakdown: Due to various circumstances, Edward Nygma/The Riddler gets increasingly loopy throughout the film. Not that he wasn't clearly demented at the start...
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Edward Nygma is clearly one at first, since he only wants to patent and market his virtual-reality invention - without approval from his superiors, if necessary - to spare the people of the world from "being brutalized by an uncaring reality" (which is a correlative to his own loneliness and sense of worthlessness). It's not until he accidentally discovers that "The Box" can extract information from human minds that he decides to go down the criminal route.
Riddler: If you shoot him, he won't learn nothin'.
The Riddler also offers a plausible explanation why Two-Face shouldn't just shoot Batman.
Riddler: Kill The Bat! Sounds like a good idea! Just think of it, a few bullets hit home, a quick splash of blood, and then what? Wet hands... and post-homicidal depression. *blubbering sounds*
Why Won't You Die?: After Batman survives Two-Face's attempt to incinerate him (in one of the most awesomeNot Quite Dead moments Batman has ever had, as he comes running out of the fire, leaving Two-Face and his mooks jaw dropped), Two-Face, now mad with frustration screams: "WHY CAN'T YOU JUST DIE!?" and fires a grenade at the support Batman was standing on, causing the entire structure to collapse and bury him. This might have actually worked, had Dick not come along to pull Batman out of there.
Then there's The Riddler at the end, defeated and slowly going insane from his Box overload.
Riddler: Why can't I kill you? Too many questions... too many questions...