The iceman cometh

10 unforgettable moments from Joel Schumacher's Batman movies

From ice puns to Batman's credit card, Joel Schumacher's movies are a treasure trove of incredible jokes, iconic performances, and inimitable visual style.

Joel Schumacher was never one to do things by halves.

He directed Brat Pack movies, musicals, and, for two fantastic movies, he took the reins of the Batman franchise. The result? Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, two of the most polarizing superhero movies ever made. (If you’re still a hater, check out this video.)

Schumacher died Monday, and the world stopped to remember the loud, unapologetic visionary that was Joel Schumacher. To celebrate his work in the DC universe, Inverse’s entertainment team reflects on some of the best, most memorable, and goofiest moments in Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies.

10. The Production Design

Barbara Ling’s production design took Schumacher’s vision of maximalism and color and brought it to life through a return to the old school methods of matte paintings and miniatures. The world this Batman lives in feels just heightened enough to be surreal, but still grounded enough to make be relatable. — Dais

Joel Schumacher wanted his Batman movies to feel like cartoons, and the sets were a big part of that. From the building-sized statues that dot Gotham City to Poison Ivy’s technicolor hideout, these movies are packed to the brim with incredible window dressing. — Jake

Tim Burton was fascinated with the gothic identity of New York and made the city spring from the ground as if hell itself had awakened. Joel Schumacher opposed that with an array of colors and art deco architecture that soared into the sky (helpfully accomplished with a frequently floating camera). Though Burton’s films matched the thematic tone of the groundbreaking Denny O’Neil comics, Schumacher matched them in style. — Eric

Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies were very much an homage to the 1960s series and that’s evident in the production design. Everything is big, bright, lavish, and somewhat whimsical. Batman & Robin’s aesthetic reflected the style seen in Silver Age Batman comics. — Mae

9. Bat nipples and costumes in general

Schumacher got his start in fashion and costume design, and it shines through with the comic book aesthetic. Costumes are oversized, overdone, and often bedazzled. And yes, the batsuit has nipples. Why not? — Dais

The superhero genre has a historically queer subtext that Joel Schumacher made explicit to a mainstream global audience. What a champ. — Eric

Four words: Jim Carrey’s Riddler pajamas. (Also, those latex batsuits might be controversial, but 23 years later, we’re still talking about them.) — Jake

The costumes in Schumacher’s Batman films have been over-critiqued at this point, but they’re wildly memorable, dramatic, and eye-poppingly stylish. Bat nipples may not have served any purpose, but it was a bold choice nonetheless. — Mae

Warner Bros.

8. The Bat credit card

There’s an entire Twitter account devoted to silly Batman labels from the 1960s TV show (I’m a big fan of the Portable Ultraviolet Batray), but Schumacher has them all beat with Batman’s credit card. Good thru: “Forever.” — Jake

The little “cha-ching!” sound effect! The expiration date being “forever!” The brand of card being “GothCard!” There’s so much to love in the tiniest details of this prop. While nowadays he might carry some uber-VIP credit card made out of a moon rock or something, that shot is so indicative of everything Batman & Robin is. — Dais

It’s weird to imagine now, but for a long time fans hated the ‘60s Batman TV show. It was seen as a blight on fandom. As fans have come around to embracing it, so should we with Schumacher’s movies. Direct homages to the show like this one make revisiting these movies so worthwhile. — Eric

The idea that Batman even has a credit card is hilarious all on its own. Did he use his “forever” card to purchase the Batmobile? Add in the fact that swiping the card had the sound effects of a Mall Madness game and the result is silly, but oddly charming. — Mae

7. Poison Ivy and her big dance entrance

“As I told Lady Freeze when I pulled her plug, this is a one woman show.” We can thank Joel Schumacher for introducing Uma Thurman’s delicious take on Poison Ivy. The audience knew she meant business as soon as she crashed the Save the Rainforest party and cast a spell on the heroes. Poison Ivy danced her way into the spotlight and then stole the show completely. An icon. — Mae

We could write an entire essay about Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin (and we almost did). From her not-so-subtle sexual innuendos to her deadly kisses, Thurman’s portrayal of the Batman villain is unbeatable. Maybe that’s why there hasn’t been a live-action Poison Ivy since. — Jake

6. Robin's origin story

The Flying Graysons are often overlooked, but the fact that Robin is a trapeze artist is actually really cool. Plus, he wears an earring so you can tell this isn’t your parents’ Robin. This is a Robin for the ‘90s. — Dais

For a character as popular as Dick Grayson, Batman Forever was the first time he got a live-action origin story. It was a longtime coming, and Joel Schumacher was able to do what no director has done since with regards to Robin, bringing focus to his story as a former circus star and family tragedy, as well as working to bring him out of Batman’s shadow in Batman & Robin. — Mae

For many people, the Batman movies were their introduction to comics. For myself, Batman Forever was my entry into all of Batman, period, and getting to know who Dick Grayson was subtly ingrained in me just how important the concept of family is to the Bat-mythos. While Chris O’Donnell was maybe too handsome for Dick Grayson — he barely looked younger than Val Kilmer— these movies do play a role in our attachment to the characters in ways we don’t even acknowledge. — Eric

5. The puns!

Arnold Schwarzennager is basically a pun machine in any context, but give him an ice gun and that’s a deadly combination. There are too many great one liners to pick a favorite, but for pure nonsense alone, I have to highlight, "Freeze in Hell, Batman!" — Jake

Not only was Arnold Schwarzennager’s Mr. Freeze quite punny, he was also meta. After freezing a henchman, he says that he hates it “when they talk during the movie.” But, it’d be remiss not to mention one of his greatest puns in Batman & Robin: “Allow me to break the ice. My name is Freeze.” — Mae

“All right everybody: Chill.” I still say that to this day. — Eric

4. The first line of Batman Forever

“Can I persuade you to take a sandwich, sir?”

First lines establish the tone and mood, and what better way to set up Batman Forever than with an extraordinary sequence leading up to the reveal of a new Batman undercut with a dramatically lit Alfred trying to convince him to pack a lunch. — Dais

Sure, that’s a classic, but my favorite Alfred line from the Schumacher movies has got to be, “I’ll cancel the pizzas!— Jake

3. Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian

Justifying a female character in a Batman movie is difficult: you don’t want to make her too audacious, but she must have the femme fatale charisma you’d find in a comic book. Enter Dr. Chase Meridian, a whip-smart psychologist, who chooses to be seductive around Bruce. It gives what normally would be an archetypal character some agency. — Dais

I won’t be gross here, but it’s not hard to see how Nicole Kidman’s Meridian was an awakening for many, many people. The whole scene where Batman visits and she’s in that nightgown... whew. That's when you understand the artistry of Joel “20,000 partners” Schumacher. — Eric

2. John Glover’s mad scientist take on Dr. Woodrue

Most comic book fans will know John Glover from his seasons-long stint playing Smallville’s Lionel Luthor. However, before he lent his bad guy energy to Lionel, Glover played Dr. Jason Woodrue, the villainous scientist who created Bane in Batman & Robin. It was Glover’s first introduction into the live-action world of comic book adaptations and he appropriately chewed up the scenery. — Mae

It’s an iconic performance but I can’t take my eyes off the character design for Bane in that scene. Lucha libre masked, full of tubes, he’s the “Bane! Bane of Humanity!” but he’s also just the perfect henchmen design, like the Mountain in Game of Thrones. — Dais

Warner Bros.

1. Batman and Robin play hockey

Batman & Robin doesn’t waste any time telling you exactly what kind of movie it is. From the moment in the first scene when the crime-fighting duo taps their heels and transform their boots into ice skates to take on Mr. Freeze’s hockey-playing goons, it’s clear just how ridiculous this story will be. — Jake

Of course, Robin is a hockey bro: he’s a jock, but he’s not the football kind of jock. I hope in between late nights of vigilante justice he can catch Gotham City Rogues games. I assume that’s what their NHL team would be called. — Dais

One of my favorite toys as a kid was a Batman & Robin branded action figure featuring Batman in combat hockey gear. Let that sink in: combat hockey gear. It was a five-inch George Clooney whose head you sunk into his chest in order to put his Batman armor on and a swappable Batman cowl and cape. There were additional pieces that provided Batman his ice skates. It was my first real Batman toy and my favorite, and maybe played a role in my eventual devotion to the New Jersey Devils. Whenever I’m at the Prudential Center, a part of me still hopes that Mr. Freeze is taking over and Batman and Robin are there to save the day. — Eric

Batman Forever and Batman & Robin are streaming now on HBO Max.

Related Tags