It’s been twenty years since 1997’s Batman & Robin, but time hasn’t been kind to Joel Schumacher’s film. After its poor performance upon release, Warner Bros. ceased producing Batman movie for years, which is hard to imagine nowadays. But now, as a moody, world-weary Dark Knight played by Ben Affleck heads towards Justice League in November, Schumacher is apologizing for his sins against comic book fans. He’s also sorry for those nipples.
“Look, I apologize,” he told Vice in a recent interview. “I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed, because I think I owe them that.”
Schumacher’s apology is only the beginning to a very revealing Q&A from Vice, in which Schumacher opens up about his oddball creative choices for Batman & Robin, the last movie in the franchise he took over from Tim Burton. “A lot of it was my choice,” he said of the film’s style and design. “No one is responsible for my mistakes but me.”
The infamous nipples on Batman and Robin’s costumes are something of a different story. When it was brought up, Schumacher remarked jokingly: “Such a sophisticated world we live in where two pieces of rubber the size of erasers on old pencils, those little nubs, can be an issue.”
“It’s going to be on my tombstone, I know it,” he added.
In his interview, Schumacher explained the origins of the nipples, which he explained came from ancient Greek statues and anatomical drawings in medical books. “It was made by Jose Fernandez, who was our brilliant lead sculpture,” he said. For Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns, the suits were made by Bob Ringwood. By the time Schumacher hopped aboard for 1995’s Batman Forever, “the rubber and techniques had gotten so sophisticated.”
“By the time Batman Forever came around, rubber molding had become so much more advanced,” said the director. “So I said, let’s make it anatomical and gave photos of those Greek statues and those incredible anatomical drawings you see in medical books. He did the nipples and when I looked at them, I thought, that’s cool.”
And that’s it. Schumacher thought the nipples were cool. Little did he know that he’d be cementing his place in superhero infamy, but still, he had no idea of the costume’s impact. And he appears to have no regrets. “I really never thought that would happen,” he said. “I really didn’t. Maybe I was just naive, but I’m still glad we did it.”
Justice League, with a nipple-less Batman, will be released on November 17.