Batman Forever premiered 25 years ago—it still holds up today.
There have been a number of Batman films in the last three decades—as well as Batman appearances in expanded universe films and TV shows.
But as we celebrate 25 years since Batman Forever debuted, we look at why the film holds up and is still as entertaining as it ever was.
Bruce’s Dark Past
Batman’s origin story has been done to death—but back in 1995, Batman Forever gave the Waynes’ death more darkness and heft. Despite the film’s general campy tone, the Waynes’ death and Bruce’s memories of the aftermath are more noir than the rest of the film.
And it is evident to viewers just how tormented Bruce is by his loss—not only in the scene where he reveals to Dr Chase Meridian his first meeting with the bat, but also during his confrontation with Dick Grayson, when he tries to dissuade his new charge from killing Two-Face.
Val Kilmer gives his Bruce Wayne a layered personality—someone who is tortured but still willing to live in the moment.
No matter how you feel about the film, the moments about Bruce’s past are some of the most haunting in all the Batman films.
Batman Forever may not have been Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman’s finest acting performance, but she certainly made her presence felt in this film.
Dr Chase Meridian could easily have been relegated to a damsel in distress—and she does require saving, unfortunately—but she’s also a psychologist at the top of her game.
Plus, Meridian could definitely punch a few holes in people—we get to see her taking out her day’s frustrations on an unfortunate punching bag.
What still sets Meridian apart from many love interests is that though she was understandably interested in Batman, she managed to outgrow the obsession. We can see the appeal of the rubber suit, but Batman’s not the kind of guy who’s going to commit—neither is Bruce Wayne, but hey, baby steps. We do love a character who shows growth.
There haven’t been many live-action Robins, but Chris O’Donnell’s Dick Grayson/ Robin continues to be memorable.
Despite being a bit older than his character, O’Donnell captured Dick’s naivete and vengefulness—his path to becoming Robin wasn’t a smooth one but it made sense within the context of Batman Forever.
The film also gave us a Robin who already had a bunch of cool moves—Dick helping Alfred with the washing is one of the most enjoyable in the film. Those cool moves have never been seen on-screen again!
And Dick’s realisation that revenge will not bring him peace—just as his mentor Bruce had warned him—is a cathartic moment that has become a mainstay for many characters in superhero properties since.
Jim Carrey’s Riddler is a bit too much of a goofball, and despite having a more serious side, Tommy Lee Jones still camps it up as Two-Face. Apparently, the actors barely got along while filming—turns out, Carrey’s antics weren’t just an acquired taste for viewers.
Having said that, they brought the camp that Batman Forever was aiming for—and there are some pretty hilarious riffs between the villains that still evoke laughs today.
There’s no denying that the villains’ plan was a bit out there for the 90s, but it was surprisingly prescient for the 21st century—everyone is hooked to their screens and large swathes of people are easily swayed by whatever they see. And, to be honest, aren’t real-life villains already using TV to control people? Like we said, this film really holds up.
That Final Scene
Batman Forever still has one of the best finales in superhero films. Unlike the massive battles that have become the hallmark of blockbuster finales, this film opted for a more somber approach.
Meridian and Robin are taken captive by Riddler and Two-Face, who give Batman a choice—save either one. It’s a tense moment and plays out perfectly. Batman is at his Bat-best and manages to save both—thanks to some gizmos, ingenuity, and determination.
The reason why this scene works so well is because the villains were so close to winning—Batman’s weakness is his family. Put them in danger, and you win. But Batman being the hero he is, he figures out how to win, nonetheless. Still a great moment in superhero films and one that has been co-opted across other genre properties, particularly in the Arrowverse.
There is no doubt that the Batman Forever soundtrack is still one of the best—not only in the superhero genre, but in film history.
Featuring such classics as Seal’s ‘Kiss From a Rose’, Brandy’s ‘Where Are You Now’, U2’s ‘Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me’, The Offspring’s ‘Smash It Up’, and more, this was the cassette—remember those?—on everyone’s shelves. The soundtrack is still amazing to listen to, either in order or on shuffle.
One could say that the soundtrack is even more popular than the film but the songs add a great deal to the narrative. If you don’t have this album saved on Spotify, you should add it now.
What is your favourite moment from Batman Forever? Tell us in the comments!