Val Kilmer dropped out of the Batman role after only one movie, and now the Batman Forever actor has explained why he made the controversial decision. Released in 1995, Batman Forever was seen by many as a counterpoint to the exceedingly dark and gothic Batman Returns.
New director Joel Schumacher took over from Tim Burton, and actor Michael Keaton was replaced by Top Gun star Val Kilmer. The tone of his sequel, while still borrowing from Burton’s aesthetic sensibilities, owed more to the classic 1960s Batman TV series than the pages of post-Crisis comic books.
The resultant film was a box office success, handily out-grossing Batman Returns. The acting was praised, particularly that of Kilmer, with Batman co-creator Bob Kane citing the actor’s performance as the best onscreen version of the character.
Jim Carrey’s performance as The Riddler was also singled out for being delightfully manic. However, the critical response was more muted, with many decrying the film’s relatively kid-friendly approach, especially compared to Burton’s films.
Why Kilmer Not Continue as Cape Crusader?
In a recent New York Times profile, he discussed his life and career at length, including his reason for vacating the iconic cowl. Kilmer cites a behind-the-scenes encounter that left him sour on the role.
One day, Kilmer remained on set and in costume after filming to greet visitors who wanted a backstage look at Batman Forever.
Unfortunately, the visitors (billionaire Warren Buffet and his family) were less interested in seeing Kilmer in costume than they were in checking out the sets and props. It was then Kilmer realized that the actor playing Batman was of little importance.
Kilmer’s Final Realization
This chance meeting led Kilmer to realize his skills as an actor were not necessarily relevant to the corporate blockbuster machine of franchise filmmaking.
As he put it, “That’s why it’s so easy to have five or six Batmans. It’s not about Batman. There is no Batman.” I mean, do you all agree with that statement of his?