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YMMV / Batman Forever

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  • Adorkable: Bruce has a few moments of this, particularly when he's trying to nervously explain why he broke Chase's door down, as well as his smile when he learns Chase is choosing Bruce over Batman.
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: All throughout the movie, Bruce tries to dissuade Dick from killing Two-Face, but was he really warning against senselessly killing or was he warning against revenge? If we are to believe that this film is in the same universe as the Burton films (even in a Broad Strokes sense), then Bruce knows exactly what Dick is going through. He's felt the allure of revenge. He's given in to it, and it hasn't helped with his pain. He's trying to make sure Dick doesn't make the same mistake he did. Curiously, this would also explain why Batman didn't have any qualms about killing Two-Face. He wasn't trying to exact revenge; most likely doing the deed for more pragmatic reasons (and possibly as a Mercy Kill given the fact that there was probably no way to return Harvey Dent back to normal).
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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Batman going against his own advice to Dick and killing Two-Face. A moment of hypocrisy or a case of Shoot the Dog? Keep in mind he seems to feel partially responsible that Harvey Dent became a villain.
  • Anvilicious: Riddler developing and selling a TV add-on that literally makes people stupider by watching it.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Though held to much higher esteem, the Burton movies were criticized over how loose Batman was about not killing his enemies. One of the things this movie was praised for was showing Batman being more thoughtful about that, as he found himself becoming what he hated.
    • The depiction of Dick Grayson/Robin is considered to be not only one of the best things about this movie, but one of the best depictions of the character in general, and Chris O'Donnell was praised for his performance as a young man in mourning. The film also does a great job Reimagining the Artifact with his costume; the signature Robin outfit is the basis for the uniform of the Flying Graysons and Dick's Robin outfit retains the color scheme to honor them, but the colors are muted to be less gaudy and the suit is otherwise an armored ensemble not unlike the Batsuit.
  • Awesome Music: Say what you want about the film, but music from the soundtrack for Batman Forever was a big deal in 1995:
    • "Kiss From a Rose" by Seal won Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the Grammys, and hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (#4 on the Year-End chart), even though it only fails to be an Award-Bait Song because it wasn't made for the movie (and because it actually was first used for The NeverEnding Story III soundtrack). Seal considers the song an Old Shame, though.
    • "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" by U2 hit #2 in the UK, and its animated music video was a hit on MTV. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe and a Grammy (though it was also nominated for a Razzie, which it "lost" to a song from Showgirls).
    • The soundtrack was dripping with big-name talent, including The Offspring, Brandy, Method Man, Michael Hutchence of INXS, and Tracey Thorn of Everything but the Girl.
  • Base-Breaking Character: The Riddler is usually considered the main reason to watch this movie due to Jim Carrey delivering a characteristically outrageous and funny performance. However, the character hasn't escaped criticism, with less generous viewers criticizing him as annoyingly over-the-top and too non-threatening to take seriously as one of the main villains.
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  • Best Known for the Fanservice: Nicole Kidman's breakout role as Dr. Chase Meridian, whose moments of brilliance are secondary to her moments of sexiness.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Dick Grayson's kung-fu laundry. Alfred had the same reaction the audience did.
  • Broken Base:
    • Val Kilmer as Batman is either a travesty of casting, or the only actor in the 1989-1997 series which has really gotten and portrayed the modern version of the character (he's Batman all the time, whether in or out of the suit, and Bruce Wayne is the costume he wears). To Kilmer's credit, co-creator Bob Kane stated that Kilmer's take was his favorite big-screen version of Batman, of the ones Kane saw while he still lived.
    • While Two Face is disliked as a character, there's a bit more division over Tommy Lee Jones' performance. Some say his campy turn was fun and made a poorly written villain more entertaining, while others think his overacting was incredibly awkward and only added to Two Face's poor portrayal.
  • Contested Sequel: Some hate it because it established trends that led to the next movie and most consider it hurt superhero movies overall and consider it weaker without Tim Burton. On the other hand, some people still prefer it over its predecessor for giving Batman more screentimenote  and treating him more like a hero rather than the borderline sociopath he can be in some other adaptations, and also for the film itself at least having a very consistent tone and identity (whereas Returns often had trouble with the darkness and camp clashing and leaving the film feeling like it didn't know what it wanted to be).
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing:
    • Bruce spends much of the film trying to dissuade Dick from getting involved in the vigilante lifestyle, while simultaneously doing loads of cool stuff as a vigilante.
    • The film as a whole could be seen as an early attempt at deconstructing the character of Batman/Bruce Wayne by showing that despite how heroic and downright awesome he can be, he is still a lonely, troubled man who wishes he could have a peaceful life. He finally gets a happy ending at the end of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, made a little more than a decade later.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Sugar, one of Two-Face's Paid Harem, is noticeably popular due to her Light Is Not Good appearance, her performer (Drew Barrymore), and her chemistry with both Two-Face and Riddler.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Two-Face's molls, Sugar and Spice, spend a lot of time wearing little besides full-torso lingerie.
  • Fan-Preferred Cut Content: A lot of viewers have lavished praise on some of the deleted scenes, especially the scene where Bruce encounters a giant bat in a cave and confronts some of his inner demons just before the climax. Most of these cut scenes give the film a darker, more dramatic tone similar to the Burton films and gave the characters more depth, which was more in line with Joel Schumacher's original vision until Executive Meddling resulted in the film becoming more comedic and light-hearted. For years now, fans have been crying out for the so-called "Schumacher Cut" to be released so they can see a version of the film closer to what Schumacher intended (such a version is possible to put together, with screenwriter Akiva Goldsman stating he'd seen an extended cut of the film that restores many of the scenes).
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: The Riddler in spades. Two-Face's penchant for pink also qualifies.
  • Franchise Original Sin: The movie adds a lot more humor, big-scale action sequences, and memorable architecture along with a more form-fitting Batsuit that looked (and was, for the actor) more mobile and comfortable. These elements worked in its favor for being somewhat truer to the comics, but in retrospect, they also laid the groundwork for their escalation in Batman & Robin, which suffered enormous criticism for all these things (campy humor, gratuitously grandiose action, outright Bizarrchitecture and the nipples on the batsuit) and made the superhero movie a hard sell for some time, and even made the early X-Men and Spider-Man films fight an uphill battle for respect.
  • Friendly Fandoms: Strangely, despite their polar-opposite tones, fans of this film and its sequel and Val Kilmer's take on Batman seem to overlap and get along quite well with fans of Zack Snyder's DC films and Ben Affleck's version of Batman, seeing parallels between his and Kilmer's portrayals and feeling those films and Snyder and Schumacher got treated far more harshly than they deserved. Quite a few supporters of the campaign to get Snyder's cut of the Justice League film released have even expressed a similar desire to see the full version of this film released as well.
  • Ham and Cheese:
    • Downside; the first movie in the franchise to have Bat-Nipples™. Upside; Jim Carrey babbling about "brainwave manipulation", stating that his neon wardrobe keeps him "safe while jogging at night." Ham and cheese on rye.
    • Tommy Lee Jones, who seemed to have a rip-roaring good time playing Two-Face.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The Riddler dejectedly saying "You were supposed to understand" after Bruce Wayne doesn't support his vision to market mind-reading technology can feel more grim and poignant since the release of The Batman (2022). In the latter film, that Riddler thinks that Batman supports his campaign of mass murder and terror, and their exchange of opinions leaves both men emotionally shaken.
  • He Really Can Act: A retroactive example. Though he's been praised for other works, those who just know or primarily know Chris O'Donnell for his work as Robin will likely think of him as the much criticized whiney brat featured in the infamous sequel that eclipsed this movie. So for anyone only familiar with that installment, his work here is a rather pleasant surprise, with O'Donnell's depthful and emotional work showing that he actually can play the part quite well when given a competent script.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • This iteration of The Riddler being an egocentric, embittered crazy admirer of Bruce Wayne who is pushed into villainy and using his inventions for evil purposes after being rejected by his idol makes him something of a prototype for Syndrome from The Incredibles.
    • Nicole Kidman played Batman's love interest in this movie and then would go on to play Aquaman's mother Queen Atlanna in the DC Extended Universe. Cue the jokes about how Batman slept with Aquaman's mom (along with Superman's adopted mother in Hollywoodland - see that movie's YMMV page for more details).
    • A character played by Jim Carrey is very excited about a device that would make the wearer feel like they were physically inside a TV show.
    • Back in its day, this movie notably deviated from canon by having Dick Grayson already be an adult by the time he's taken in by Bruce, with them having a bit of Adaptation Relationship Overhaul going on. Fast forward fifteen years later, Captain America: The First Avenger is released and rather than being a Kid Sidekick like he was in the comics, Bucky is reimagined as an adult contemporary to Captain America/Steve Rogers as well. What gives this an extra layer of humor is that Tommy Lee Jones who played the villainous Two-Face in Batman Forever stars as Colonel Chester Phillips, a character who's on the same side as Steve and Bucky.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Two Face and the Riddler are getting pretty affectionate towards the end of the film, even cuddling.
    • The Riddler's last outfit change is inspired by Two-Face's half suit half Elton John outfit. And he acts like a fanboy when he sees Two-Face on TV for the first time. Indeed, Two-Face is who inspires him to fully embrace costumed supervillainy, and is the first person he goes to see after his dramatic change. Fanboy much?
    • The screenwriters and Jim Carrey describe Edward Nygma's obsession with Bruce Wayne as "love" and "like a stalker".
  • Jerkass Woobie: Dick Grayson/Robin may be a bit arrogant and immature, but one has to remember that he witnessed his family get killed by Two-Face, and therefore also lost his entire lifestyle as a member of a traveling circus troupe.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Even people who aren't fans of the film watch it for Jim Carrey's portrayal of The Riddler. The Carrey Riddler has had some influence on damn near every portrayal of the character since, particularly Wally Wingert's take in the Arkham games. This retrospective video notes that Carrey's take returned the character to prominence in the Rogues Gallery after years of being disregarded by the comics as "just" a campy Silver Age/1960s TV series relic, and rarely used in the concurrent run of Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Mis-blamed: Joel Schumacher was a big, big Batman fan and wanted to adapt Batman: Year One. It was the studio that forced him to go the Lighter and Softer route.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • The film has an In-Universe example. Fred Stickley decides Edward Nygma went over by using him as a guinea pig for his brain manipulation device thing. Despite being an overall awesome and funny villain, Nygma really went over later in the same scene by pushing Stickley out the window for firing him and trying to report him to the proper authorities. He cements it when he tampers with the security log to make it look like a suicide, without caring one whistle about the repercussions it would have for Stickley's loved ones.
    • Two-Face threatening to blow up the circus to get Batman to reveal himself and the murder of the Flying Graysons also counts. Granted Two-Face was already over the MEH to begin with but threatening to blow up an entire building, murder god knows how many people and then kill an entire innocent family for trying to stop his plan?? Clearly places him in the no going back area.
  • Older Than They Think: Forever gets credited with the idea of Two-Face referring to himself in plural terms—despite not being the only time it's happened or even the first, as Andrew Helfer (who wrote Batman Annual #14, one of the first post-Crisis stories dealing with Two-Face's background) and Doug Moench (who helped write Knightfall and wrote the Batman Vampire trilogy) having done it, too (and said Annual and Knightfall actually predating Forever).
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: The 16-bit game, published by Acclaim, is a Beat 'em Up which uses the Mortal Kombat fighter engine on loan from Midway. A different game inspired by the same movie was released in arcades and ported to 32-bit systems, also by Acclaim. It was more similar to traditional side-scrolling brawlers like Final Fight and Double Dragon. All of these versions were panned by gamers and critics alike, and Batman Forever as a property became synonymous with bad licensed games.
    • 16-bit:
      1. Easily one of the most frustrating of the Batman licensed games, combining the stiffness of a fighter with the blind jumps of a platformer (luckily there are no bottomless pits, but it still wastes a lot of time if you fall).
      2. Confounding controls that caused most players to become stumped on the very first screen.
      3. It also had huge loading times in the SNES/Super Famicom version.
      4. It may be worth taking the game for a spin, as it does experiment with some novel ideas. The creative use of gadgets which rewards experimentation, extending replay value by hiding the blueprints everywhere, storyboards for the Arkham levels that were taken directly from the movie (the Arkham scenes in the prologue were cut from the final edit), and the fact that every goon has their own amusing nickname.
    • Arcade: The Sega Saturn port is ludicrously expensive, like Radiant Silvergun levels of dough. Don't fall for it:
      1. No matter which version you play, the sound is atrocious and the Dynamic Duo both move like they have arthritis: the animations are slow, and your punches and kicks are too weak.
      2. Sure, there are some power-ups, and the Bonus System ensures you'll have at least one to experiment with per stage, but they sadly don't last too long. The kick has more reach, whereas the punch is useful for picking up things and starting very short combos. We use the term "combo" very loosely, though. Spamming punch or kick is the best way to clobber a boss.
      3. The stages themselves are nice (albeit pixelized) scenes of Gotham City that reflect the movie very well. However, it's too dark, so you can't really enjoy them as much as you might otherwise.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Opinions vary wildly about the cast of characters and how they were portrayed in this movie, but Tommy Lee Jones's Two-Face is consistently hated, due to taking a serious character torn between good and evil and reducing him to a cackling Joker-wannabe. Another point of sourness for the fanbase is how in this incarnation, he does do-over flips of his coin until he gets the decision he wants, which really goes against his character. And let's not really get into the fact that the Burton films, which are theoretically in-continuity with this film, set up Dent as being portrayed by Billy Dee Williams (which would thus give an actor of color a huge leading role in a superhero movie), and then suddenly in Forever Dent is portrayed by the very caucasian Jones...
    • The security guard whom Batman has to save from Two-Face's acid trap at the beginning, especially for the way he manages to make unreadably silly dialogue sound even more ridiculous out loud.
    • Chase Meridian engenders a lot of mixed reactions. She doesn't originate from the comics, which is often a hard sell for adaptations, though her characterization doesn't help. It's telling that most of the praise for her character revolves around her attractiveness. Her open lust for Batman seems rather unprofessional for a therapist at worst and makes her seem like a one-dimensional Ms. Fanservice at best (not even getting into how it relates to her dating Bruce). A lot of her 'expert insights' also seem to consist of telling Batman things he already knows. Some fans feel it's rather unbelievable that Bruce would give up being Batman just to be with her, forsaking well-liked previous love interests like Vicki Vale and Selina Kyle. By the finale Chase has devolved into a Damsel Scrappy and she's never seen in the sequel, with Bruce shacking up with Julie Madison instead (who had even less dimension, only appearing in two scenes), thus making Chase feel rather superfluous. Many viewers also regard Chase as a let-down compared to the previous love interests; although Vicki's character largely revolves around her relationship with Batman she at least has the excuse of being the Audience Surrogate and a photojournalist working on a story about Batman, while Selina is a well-rounded character who even got more of a story arc than Batman himself in Returns (not helping is that Michelle Pfeiffer's take on the character proved extremely popular).
  • So Okay, It's Average: The movie was exactly what the studio wanted, safe and marketable, and is considered disposable at worst and decent light entertainment at best. It definitely helps to think of it as a loud, larger-than-life and very colorful action-adventure movie for the summer blockbuster set, as opposed to a straight adaptation of Batman. Some have also stated they can appreciate Forever more by thinking of it as being a standalone movie rather than a direct sequel to the Tim Burton movies.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • While Gotham City is mostly realized with gorgeous model work and backdrops that still hold up, in the establishing shot of the scene where Edward Nygma is introduced, Gotham and the Wayne Enterprises building are made with some rather dodgy CGI.
    • Similarly, the film also uses one of the first CGI doubles for the scene where Batman falls from a great height onto the streets of Gotham. While undoubtedly impressive for the time when CGI for motion pictures were still in their infancy, it's not held up well to the years, with the sweeping camera only drawing more attention to the artificiality of it.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • The Batmobile. The decision to get rid of the version from the Burton films was enough of a sore spot for fans already, but its redesign now featured many gratuitous additions including a fin and neon-lights which weren't well-received.
    • A big reason for this film's divisive reception is that a large amount of viewers disliked its Lighter and Softer approach compared to the first two films. While some agreed that Batman Returns was perhaps a little too dark - especially as executives wanted the franchise to be family-oriented - many felt Forever went too far in the opposite direction, throwing out most of the more grounded and psychological aspects that made the 1989 movie memorable while simultaneously adding too much comic relief and whimsy, to the point it almost felt like it was a different continuity. Michael Keaton himself decided against reprising the title role because he wasn't keen on the films shifting in this direction. On a related note, the change in visuals was also criticized by these viewers, with the term "garish" getting used a lot. It doesn't help that the next film took these changes even further to even worse reception (Forever does at least have some moments of emotional gravity to balance out the wackier parts).
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The ingredients for a great story are all here. Unfortunately, the film's focus on action and camp humor over plot and character resulted in these elements not being utilized as well as they could have been.
    • Bruce Wayne questioning his identity, revisiting his origins as Batman, and considering hanging up the cowl. This lasts all of a few hours before the plot forces him out of retirement.
    • Bruce taking in Dick Grayson, a young man who has gone through the same tragedy he has, and Bruce tries to turn him from going down the same self-destructive path he did. Dick does in fact get a chance to prove that he's risen above vengeance when he saves Two-Face's life, only to end up a hostage for it.
    • The Riddler, a villain smart enough to build a company to rival Wayne Enteprises, deduce Batman's identity, and invade his lair. He mentions using his box to hack into bank accounts, yet we never see him go further than petty theft.
    • Two-Face, a very tragic and complex villain whose existence torments both sides of Bruce's identity and provides a dark mirror to his duality. He was reduced to little more that a poor man's Joker and the only hints of him having a split personality are his use of plural pronouns and his habit of Suddenly Shouting.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously:
    • Michael Gough as Alfred continues to play the part with as much dignity and weight as he did in the previous entries, even if the series itself has taken a campier tone.
    • Val Kilmer makes a pretty sincere effort as Batman/Bruce Wayne despite the uneven tone of the film and captures Bruce's humanity, the lingering effects of his childhood trauma and how his years as Batman have left him alone and regretful and not wanting to see Dick go down that same path.
    • Though it's often agreed that Chris O'Donnell was too old to play Robin, his actual performance has been praised for poignantly showing a young man dealing with grief and changing for the better through that struggle.
  • Trailer Joke Decay: Batman's "I'll get drive-thru" snark at the beginning of the film would be pretty funny if not for the fact that every trailer and McDonald's tie-in commercial made use of the line, making it simply eye-rolling (and an obvious attempt at Product Placement) by the time anyone actually saw the film.
  • Values Resonance:
    • The Riddler's plan to use an electronic device as a Trojan Horse to steal people's personal information has became a LOT more relevant (and plausible) in our current internet-heavy culture.
    • Edward Nygma becoming a rich, famous tech magnate by selling a gadget that entertains the mesmerized masses while secretly stealing their personal info and lurid secrets in the background is eerily prescient to the advent of smartphones and social media, and arguably makes the plot more biting in the 2010-'20s than it was in 1995.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: As overly colorful this Batman film is, you'll seldom see these visuals or architecture in any other movie, leading to a highly unique-looking production design. Many of the stunts and action-setpieces also involve a huge amount of practical effects and sets that still look good to this day, compared to much of the badly-aged CGI found in some of the 2000s superhero fare that followed.
  • Vindicated by History: With the runaway success of the The Dark Knight Trilogy and the Marvel Cinematic Universe legitimizing comic book films as mainstream entertainment, and subsequent Batman films in the DC Extended Universe going deep into Darker and Edgier territory to divisive reactions, the general consensus has warmed up to Joel Schumacher's Batman films. As examined by Patrick H. Willems, the films were released at a time where comic fans were desperate to have the source material taken seriously, so the Schumacher films' goofier tone didn't sit well with many fans, especially as Batman (1989) had put in so much effort to be a more serious and grounded take on the genre (it's also been argued pervasive homophobia may have influenced critical opinions toward Schumacher's output). While Batman Forever and Batman & Robin are still seen as flawed, their respective sense of fun, camp factor, and LGBT-coding now stands in a much-appreciated contrast to the grim tone and heteronormativity of subsequent Batman media. While Batman & Robin tends to be viewed more as So Bad, It's Good, it's been argued Batman Forever has some legitimately good moments despite all the studio interference, with many expressing interest in an extended cut expanding upon some of its concepts.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: The producers intentionally designed the film to be Lighter and Softer compared to the previous Batman films to make it easier to market towards kids (especially after Batman Returns was criticized for its dark tone and grotesque imagery). While Batman Forever does tone down the violence and grimness (and cut out most of scenes delving into Bruce Wayne's psychology and mental state), it still has stuff like traumatized teenager Dick Grayson wanting to kill Two-Face to avenge his murdered family and Chase Meridian blatantly trying to seduce Batman while wearing skimpy clothing (or just a Modesty Bedsheet), which isn't exactly child-friendly.
  • Win Back the Crowd: Despite the mixed reception it received, Batman Forever won back the audiences and sponsors that were put off by the dark tone of Batman Returns.
  • What The Hell, Casting Agency?:
    • The script clearly indicates that Dick Grayson is supposed to be pretty young (early to mid-teens, probably). They cast Chris O'Donnell, who was 25 at the time and looks it. This makes a lot of the scenes focusing on his character creepy, nonsensical, or both. Apparently the deciding point in whether the role went to him or Leonardo DiCaprio was asking preteen boys (the target audience) at a comic convention which of the two actors would win in a fistfight, the kind of question that doesn't exactly benefit DiCaprio given his scrawnier more youthful appearance, which in turn results in a less boyish looking Boy Wonder.
    • Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face. Harvey Dent is supposed to look young and handsome and his actor wasn't aging very well when he was cast. For comparison, Billy Dee Williams was 50 when he played Harvey Dent and still looked younger than his successor. Not to mention Billy Dee Williams is black. Granted Harvey Dent is white in almost all other continuities, but it was still a rather noticeable discontinuity and some felt it was a missed opportunity to have an actor of color in a major role. Putting aside appearances, there's the additional matter of having an actor known for stoic, deadpan roles playing such an over the top villain. While Jones certainly didn't shy away from Playing Against Type and hamming it up, many think the final result showed there's a reason why he otherwise sticks to reserved characters.
    • Nicole Kidman's casting as Chase Meridian gets this reaction from some, especially nowadays. While Kidman isn't thought to be bad in the role (not that there's much for her to work with), it's been pointed out that at 27 she's way too young to be believable as a famous criminal psychologist with a doctorate (realistically, Chase would probably still be working on her PhD at her age). Considering Kidman was also only two years older than Chris O'Donnell, it can seem a bit weird that Batman's romantically involved with someone not much older than his surrogate son. Originally, Rene Russo was cast in the role and she was in her late 30s/early 40s at the time, which is more believable for the character, but Russo got the boot from executives for being seen as too old next to Val Kilmer (even though he's only five years younger); these days especially, people have pointed out this reasoning comes off as sexist and doesn't help the view of Chase as a flat Satellite Love Interest mostly there for fanservice (heck, even Kidman herself nearly got replaced by the studio for not being "sexy enough").