'Batman Forever' Had a "Much Darker, More Serious" 170-Minute Cut from Joel Schumacher

Batman Forever was already being discussed online more than usual this year thanks to the film celebrating its 25th anniversary. Then when director Joel Schumacher passed away recently, even more love was poured out for the goofy DC Comics sequel. Now the chatter has grown even more because there have been rumblings of a 170-minute “much darker, more serious” cut of the movie that’s just sitting somewhere waiting to be released to the masses.

The first word of this much longer, darker cut of Batman Forever came from Marc Bernardin, writer on Castle Rock and Star Trek: Picard and co-host of Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast. Not only did he mention the existence of this alternate cut of Batman Forever, but he posted this to Twitter:

Since then, Variety has confirmed that this longer cut of the movie does exist, and they even got some details about the additional scenes that are included in the 170-minute cut, which would be about 40 minutes longer than the theatrical version of the movie.

The theatrical cut of Batman Forever opens with Two-Face holding a bank security guard hostage and attempting to air-lift a vault from high inside one of Gotham City’s skyscrapers. Batman arrives to save the day, and a helicopter action sequence ensues. But in the longer cut, the movie actually starts things off with Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) making an escape from Arkham Asylum, after apparently being captured at least once before. An image from the set of this sequence made it online recently:

In addition to the alternate opening sequence, the Batman Forever extended cut also had more of the Riddler destroying the Batcave, featuring Jim Carrey whipping his cane around even more. Honestly, seeing more of Two-Face and the Riddler is where most of my interest in a longer cut comes from. But most of the extra footage focuses on something else.

Joel Schumacher’s longer cut of Batman Forever hones in more on “the emotional and psychological issues that led Bruce Wayne to decide to become Batman, including a sequence of Wayne facing down a giant, human-sized bat.” The latter scene has made its away online after being released on home video before, and it’s just as odd as you imagine it would be.

Some of this psychological material is still present in the theatrical cut of the movie, largely thanks to Bruce’s questionable relationship with psychologist Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman). There are even visions of that giant bat when Bruce tries out Edward Nygma’s brain wave box technology, but we never see Bruce encountering it to give us an idea of its size. We only see it flying towards Bruce in a dream vision of sorts.

So will we ever see the Batman Forever extended cut, or is that a dream vision too? According to Variety, there are currently no discussions about distributing this version of Batman Forever. Furthermore, representatives for the studio aren’t even sure if this cut of the movie has survived after 25 years. Only relatively recently did studios start to maintain and protect movie props, wardrobes, sets, and more. So an alternate cut of a movie that got blasted by critics probably wasn’t a priority for Warner Bros. Pictures. It’s amazing how studios have lost track of things or let them rot away without preservation.

At the same time, since this longer cut of the movie never saw the light of day, there’s a good chance that a lot of technical touches had yet to be completed, such as color correction and sound mix. Those deleted scenes would probably need a score added to them too. And when you add up stuff like that, releasing the movie wouldn’t be as simple as finding it and putting it on a streaming service. Plus, let’s not forget that this cut of the movie wasn’t released for a reason, so maybe it’s just not worth it.

Even so, if the Batman Forever extended cut could be tracked down, is in good condition, and wouldn’t be too expensive to finish, perhaps HBO Max would be willing to deliver it to fans. They’re already on board to release Zack Snyder’s Justice League next year, and fans are already asking them to do the same for David Ayer’s original cut of Suicide Squad. So let’s just keep the train going and get the Batman Forever extended cut out there to the masses, even if it’s an unfinished version.

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