23 March 2007

Superheroes on Screen - Retrospective 1997

1997, a little shy of heaven.


What more can be said of Batman & Robin? This turd of a film is one of those movies that is so bad its good. You can sit around and laugh at how bad the dialog is, how many one liners Freeze alone throws out, and how many Bat-Butt close ups director Joel Schumacher felt the film needed. Well, actually this film was painful from 1997 until 2005 when Batman was resurrected. The fact is, if this film hadn't been so utterly terrible, we may have never been given the gem of Batman Begins. To that we all owe Joel a bit of gratitude. Had B&R earned a bit more than $107 million, or had it sold some more toys, we could have gotten Batman 5 AKA Batman Triumphant. This film would have featured the Scarecrow and Harley Quinn and the alleged return of the Joker. While the film sounds actually sorta interesting, I am sure they would have found a way to make it unbearable. Anyways, there is a fan edit of B&R ala the Jar Jar mitigated Phantom Edit. Batman & Robin De-Assified is just over an hour in length, but maintains the whole plot. Imagine that, half the movie was one-liners and butt shots.

As if trying to kill Batman wasn't enough for one summer, DC also released the movie Steel in 1997 based on a character from Superman's supporting cast and starring Shaquille "KAZAM" O'Neal. I haven't seen this one (I don't think hardly anyone has given its $1.6 million box office), but it is based about John Henry Irons weapon designer and Iron Man ripoff who becomes a man of "steel" to fight crime.

The year wasn't all bad though as July produced Sci-Fi / Action / Comedy Men in Black. This film generated $251 million, though it unfortunately led to a subpar sequel. Anyway, this is Will Smith doing his Independence Day / I Robot thing as a wisecracking hero. The Men in Black comic was published by Aircel Comics, owned by Marvel. This film's success helped to whet Marvel's appetite for big screen adaptations of every and any Marvel character.

Even Image comics got in on the action with the Todd McFarlane character Spawn. This little devil dealer earned $55 million in spite of fairly negative critical reviews.

On the small screen, DC was also trying to kill its franchises with an atrocious, though fortunately rejected, pilot for a Justice League of America live action series. Absent were Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, though Fire, Ice, Flash, Atom, Green Lantern Guy Gardner, and The Martian Manhunter were on hand to battle - of all threats - The Weatherman.

And that folks, was 1997. 'Twas the year DC tried to kill itself and little comic companies had bit hits.

Previous Retrospectives
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998

Batman - The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997 (Batman / Batman Returns / Batman Forever / Batman & Robin) (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Batman Begins (Widescreen Edition)

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