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Costume changes and Batnipples - How a McDonald's Happy Meal tie in deal helped ruin Batman & Robin

Finally, we know how he got all those wonderful toys.

Batman & Robin Screenshot
Image credit: Warner Bros.

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In the conversation for worst comic book movie of all time, few titles get mentioned as often as the notorious Batman & Robin. There are countless ways that it fails to capture the Dark Knight’s spirit, from the colorful costumes and pun-riddled dialogue to the infamous Bat credit card – and that isn’t even touching the nipples on the batsuit. It is easy to blame this on Joel Schumacher’s lack of understanding of the source material, but the true reason Batman & Robin is so bad might be because McDonald's got involved.

Schumacher gets a lot of schtick for the almost toxic levels of cheese and camp in Batman & Robin, but some of the blame for that lies with the studio itself. Michael Uslan, who served as producer on the movie, told Traversing the Stars that, “Joel, at that time, was given a directive by the studio. At that time, the studio was very enamored with toys and Happy Meals. And coming out of the Tim Burton movies, they wanted to cater to that side of things and they wanted movies that were lighter, brighter, more kiddy and family-friendly.”

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Studio meddling to get themselves some of that sweet toy action also contributed to the unwieldy, bloated script and cast. “And the toy companies and everyone,” Uslan explains, “Their request was like, ‘Well, how about three heroes in every movie and three villains in every movie? And each one with two vehicles and two costume changes?’” This goes a long way to explain why the movie is called Batman & Robin but is really the origin story of Batgirl. A bigger cast means more characters and more toys to sell.

So, there it is – we can’t blame Schumacher for everything wrong with Batman & Robin. As Uslan puts it, “he was doing what he was told to do or asked to do.” Though we suspect that blame for the batnipples lies firmly at his feet, so he isn’t without sin here. Making one of the most unwatchable comic book movies of all time was definitely a team effort.


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