The Hollywood Reporter brings word that Joel Schumacher, the director who spearheaded two of Batman’s big-screen adventures in the 1990s, has passed away after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 80 years old.
Schumacher began his professional career in the fashion world, but soon decided to pursue a life in filmmaking. His sartorial know-how led to jobs as a costume designer during the ‘70s before he eventually segued into screenwriting, penning films like Sparkle, Car Wash, and The Wiz. Schumacher made his feature directorial debut with The Incredible Shrinking Woman in 1981. Throughout the next decade, he made a name for himself by helming classics such as St. Elmo’s Fire, The Lost Boys, and The Client.
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Of course, Schumacher landed the most high-profile gig of his career when he was chosen to succeed Tim Burton as the director of the next Batman movie in the mid-’90s. His first go-round with the Dark Knight, Batman Forever, starred Val Kilmer in the title role and bowed in 1995. And while the film received mixed reviews, it was successful enough to warrant a follow-up. That sequel, Batman & Robin, arrived in 1997; and its critical and financial failures effectively ended the series that began with Burton’s original Batman film in 1989. As a result, audiences wouldn’t see another Batman installment for eight more years.
Although he is often blamed for “killing” the Batman franchise, Schumacher himself expressed disappointment with the way his two films turned out. He even went so far as to apologize for Batman & Robin, and said he would have preferred to have made a film that embraced the darkness of the character’s comic book roots. Unfortunately, this wasn’t what Warner Bros. was looking for at the time. Despite the stigma attached to his name, Schumacher didn’t have much of a problem booking more jobs. His post-Batman career included 8MM, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Number 23. His final film, Trespass, came out in 2011.
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