06. Batman & Robin (1997)
The George Clooney Apology Tour for the horrendous franchise-killer Batman & Robin, whether born from valiant self-deprecation or weirdly persistent narcissism (No, Val Kilmer, I was the worst Batman ever!), continues to this day. In May 2015, Clooney went on The Graham Norton Show and apologized again for “destroying” Batman, as if the infamous nipple suit is so damned that Christian Bale did not actually rise from its ashes and that the far superior Dark Knight series was, in fact, a nipple suit-induced mirage.
Nay, what feels more like a fever dream is the garish and cartoonish act of sadism that Joel Schumacher (who also directed The Number 23, lest we forget) delivered onto Batman buffs like an overturned vat – the nipple suit being the rotten cherry that floated out with the rest of it. This consumerist batch of neon sludge is made only slightly redeemable by how outright awful it is; Alicia Silverstone’s catatonic line deliveries, the flashing of the “Bat-Credit Card,” and Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger, that ham) reciting interminable ice-related puns (“I’m afraid that my condition has left me cold to your pleas of mercy”; “The Iceman cometh!”; “What killed the dinosaurs? The Ice Age!”) are hilarious enough to make the experience worth it. This unmitigated disaster may have pounded the final nail into the coffin of 1990s Batman (RIP), but that it left us with a bunch of so-bad-it’s-good moments and set the bar spectacularly low for anyone to follow keeps it just a hair above the interminably dull Batman Forever — yet far below the just-okay The Dark Knight Rises — on the Batman film hierarchy. –Leah Pickett