While Tim Burton was still slated to direct the film, Micky Dolenz was considered to play The Riddler. After Burton dropped out, Robin Williams was offered the role by Warner Brothers, but refused due to being bitter about being used as "bait" to lure Jack Nicholson to commit to play the Joker in Batman (1989).
In the first Batman (1989), District Attorney Harvey Dent was played by Billy Dee Williams. Williams accepted the role with the knowledge and expectation that Dent would eventually become Two-Face. He reportedly had a clause put into his contract, reserving the role for him in any sequels, which Warner Bros. had to buy out, so they could cast Tommy Lee Jones. Williams would eventually voice the character in The Lego Batman Movie (2017).
Before deciding not to don the cape and cowl for a third time, Michael Keaton met with Joel Schumacher and declined to join the project after deciding that he did not like the direction in which Schumacher was looking to take the franchise. In the brief time that Tim Burton was still considering doing a third Batman film, Riddler was the only villain that he planned on using. The idea of using Two-Face did not come up until Schumacher joined the project.
Joel Schumacher's decision to put nipples and enlarged codpieces on the Bat-costumes, as well as an earring on Robin caused controversy - it even bothered Batman creator Bob Kane. Schumacher said he wanted the costumes to have an anatomic look, while the earring was supposed to make Robin more hip. He also claimed that the basis for the Batman and Robin suits came from statues of the gods of ancient Greece.
Tommy Lee Jones was Joel Schumacher's first choice for the role of Two-Face after working with him in The Client (1994). Jones accepted the role because his son Austin, eleven at the time, said Two-Face was his favorite character.
Robin's costume is not the classic costume of the comics that Dick Grayson wore, but it is based on the costume worn by the third Robin, Tim Drake. This costume was introduced in 1990, and it is rumored that Tim Burton had a hand in designing it.
Rene Russo was originally cast to play Dr. Chase Meridian when Michael Keaton was still attached to the project as Batman. However, when Keaton dropped out of the project and was replaced by Val Kilmer, Russo was deemed too old to play his love interest and was replaced by Nicole Kidman.
Tim Burton said "I always hated those titles like Batman Forever. That sounds like a tattoo that somebody would get when they're on drugs or something. Or something some kid would write in the yearbook to somebody else. I have high problems with some of those titles." It is rumored that Burton was considering the title Batman Continues while he was still slated to direct.
Batman creator Bob Kane said in a Cinescape interview that Val Kilmer had given the best interpretation among all the actors to play Batman up to that time. However, Kane never lived to see Christian Bale take on the role.
In the film, Robin exclaims, "Holy rusted metal, Batman!" This was in homage to Burt Ward's Robin from Batman (1966), who would often exclaim "Holy (fill in the blank), Batman!" in moments of distress or astonishment.
First live action appearance of Harvey Dent/Two-Face in disfigured form. He was supposed to appear as a villain in the television show Batman (1966), reimagined as a news anchor who was disfigured when a television set exploded in his face, but the character didn't appear in the series, and Clint Eastwood expressed an interest for the role. Early drafts of Batman Returns (1992) featured Harvey Dent in the film (with Billy Dee Williams reprising his role from Batman (1989)), and his transformation into Two-Face was set to happen during the finale when Catwoman kisses him while holding onto the Penguin's generator. Several elements of Dent's role in these early drafts of that film were incorporated to the character of Max Shreck.
First appearance of Robin in the Warner Bros.' series of Batman films. He was featured in early drafts of the previous films Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), which were directed by Tim Burton, but several rewrites to the script of those films led his inclusion to be dropped because Burton felt that Robin's presence didn't fit the dark tone of those films.
Dick Grayson/Robin and Edward Nigma/The Riddler never actually met during the film. The closest they get to meeting is when Batman sees Robin trapped with Chase Meridian in the Riddler's lair. Robin actually meets only Two-Face, whereas Batman met with both villains through the film.
Prior to taking the name Riddler, one of the names Edward Nigma considered for his villain persona was The Puzzler. The Puzzler was the name of a Superman villain, who was also used in place of The Riddler in an episode of the Batman (1966) television series.
In the original script, Two-Face's female thugs Sugar and Spice were known as "Lace" and "Leather" for their clothing styles. Sugar and Spice are the nature of little girls according to nursery rhymes. No names for these characters are spoken in the film; instead Sugar, when asked her name, tells Wayne that he can call her whatever he wants to.
When The Riddler is in Two-Face's hideout demonstrating how "The Box" works, he says, "This is my brain on the box, does anyone else feel like a fried egg?". This is a spoof on an Anti-Drug commercial, which demonstrated what your brain would do when it is on drugs, by using an egg and a hot frying pan.
Joel Schumacher originally wanted to make a much darker and more serious film, that would more fully explore Bruce Wayne's growing fear, that his crusade to be Batman had done more harm than good, and that Bruce was beginning to suffer from burn out, but the executives at Warner Bros. insisted on a lighter tone.
The first part of the film was edited extensively to begin with an action sequence. The DVD features the original opening scene, Two-Face's escape from Arkham Asylum. This was to lead to Bruce Wayne's visit to his business offices, and the Bat-signal he saw there was meant to lead him to leave the office in order to suit up for the fight at the bank. This was followed by Nygma's experiment on Stickley. Batman's meeting with Chase at the Bat-signal was actually much later in the film, just before the scene where the Batmobile scales the side of the apartment building. Chase's reference to Two-Face's coin at the bank was originally a reference to the Circus. This original sequence of the first part of the film is featured in the comic book adaptation as well as in the tie-in novelization.
Early concepts of the final showdown on Claw Island had a huge, muscled, Riddler sitting on his throne when Batman finds him. The Riddler twists the two skulls on his armrests and the Riddler's muscled body is revealed to be a shell which splits in two, from which the real Riddler (wearing his white and green jumpsuit) steps out. This description made it into the junior novelization of the movie by Alan Grant, and was also featured in the video game based on the movie.
Exterior scenes of Wayne Manor were filmed at the Webb Institute of Naval Architecture on Long Island, New York. The production team had to change the school's "W" on the entrance gate because it had an anchor behind it.
Val Kilmer said of the film - "I've done an absurdly commercial cartoon, and now I'm more likely to get hired for a job I couldn't get hired for before, because I hadn't done enough movies. It's so rare when an actor gets hired because he's right for the role, it just doesn't figure into it."
In early drafts of the film, Riddler's real name was Lyle Heckendorf instead of Edward Nigma and his rival company was called HeckTech instead of NygmaTech. A scene in the early drafts that didn't make it into the final film featured Lyle stalking Bruce at the circus and stealing the clothes of a performing circus leprechaun. The leprechaun suit then formed the basis for the Riddler outfit.
When Tim Burton was going to direct, Micky Dolenz and Robin Williams were considered for the role of The Riddler. Moreover, Burton wanted The Riddler's head shaved with a question mark. The film was to include Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman (who survived the events of Batman Returns (1992)). Rene Russo was cast as the love interest. Marlon Wayans was cast as Robin, and the film was going to be called Batman Continues, but Warner Bros. ultimately dismissed Burton, after they realized the tone of the film was to be similar to Batman Returns (1992).
Unlike the two Tim Burton Batman films, this is not scored by Danny Elfman. Also, unlike those two, this film features original songs performed by multiple artists. The trailers for this film and Batman & Robin (1997) feature Elfman's score from Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), however.
After the Batmobile rides up the wall to escape from Two-Face, there was going to be a car chase on the rooftops of Gotham. Due to time and money constraints, this idea was scrapped, and used in the next film, Batman & Robin (1997).
Joel Schumacher had asked Bono of U2 to reprise his role of Macphisto that he played during the band's ZOOTV tour, but Bono declined, saying that when ZOOTV ended so did Macphisto, instead U2 contributed the song "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" to the soundtrack.
Robin Williams, who was offered and turned down the role of the Riddler, was the leading contender for the role of the Joker in Batman (1989), until the bigger star, Jack Nicholson took an interest and ultimately won the role.
Val Kilmer filmed his role concurrently with that in Heat (1995). In this film he plays a protagonist pursuing a team of armed robbers. In the other, he is one of a gang of armed robbers being pursued.
Joel Schumacher said in an interview about Val Kilmer "Val did me two great favors when I wanted him to be Batman, he said yes. Then he created a situation which allowed me not to have him play Batman again, they were both happy, happy instances for which I will always be grateful".
When Edward Nygma/The Riddler is trying out his invention on his supervisor, Fred Stickley, he parodies the title song from Top Hat (1935): "I'm sucking up your IQ, vacuuming your cortex, feeding off your brain." The original lyrics are "I'm putting on my top hat, tying up my white tie, brushing off my tails."
Val Kilmer's marriage to Joanne Whalley ended during filming, with the divorce being finalized a year after this film came out. Whether or not the stress of Kilmer's failing marriage was a factor in his attitude on set, and a factor in his strained working relationship with Joel Schumacher, is unknown.
At 121 minutes, this is the shortest live-action Batman movie in the Warner Bros series (Batman: The Movie (1966), which was based on the 1966 Batman (1966) TV series, ran 105 minutes, but that film was distributed by 20th Century Fox).
Drew Barrymore, who plays Sugar in the film, previously starred as the title character in Poison Ivy (1992), a film unrelated to Batman. A different Poison Ivy is a long time Batman foil who then appeared as one of the villains in the next Batman film Batman & Robin (1997).
There had been speculation that the film was a reboot, due to Joel Schumacher taking over as director from Tim Burton and changing the visual style of the film from dark and gothic to more comic book and futuristic, and the recasting of Batman from Michael Keaton to Val Kilmer. The film is not a reboot, and continues on from Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). Pat Hingle returns as Comissioner Gordon, and Michael Gough returns as Alfred Pennyworth. But, Billy Dee Williams had played Harvey Dent in the original film, but Tommy Lee Jones plays Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face in this film.
While this is the first appearance of Robin in the series, both of the previous films had Robin appear in early drafts of the script. Kiefer Sutherland had been offered the role in Batman (1989) but turned it down, and Marlon Wayans had actually signed on and done a costume test for the role in Batman Returns (1992). Wayans was slated to play the role in this film while Tim Burton was still on board as director, but when Joel Schumacher took over, Wayan's contract was bought out by Warner Brothers and Chris O'Donnell was given the role instead.
Each main Batman villain in the first 3 installments of the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher series shot and killed one of their own henchmen. In "Batman" (1989), the Joker (Jack Nicholson) shot Bob the Goon (Tracey Walter). In "Batman Returns" (1992), the Penguin (Danny DeVito), shot the fat clown (Travis McKenna) for questioning the Penguin's plot to murder the first-born sons of Gotham. Here, in "Batman Forever," Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) fired his gun at Batman in the helicopter scene, thereby killing the henchman flying the helicopter.
Two characters in this film who were originally supposed to be black became white when Joel Schumacher replaced Tim Burton. Billy Dee Williams, who played Harvey Dent in Batman (1989), was supposed to play Two-Face, and Marlon Wayans was supposed to play Robin, although according to the comics, these characters have historically always been white.
In the commercial of the video game based on the film, the lyrics to the song in the commercial goes: He can run/There's no escape/He can hide/That's his fate/He can fight with all his might and never win/When good battles evil/The real game begins.
Batman's visit to a sheet-clad Chase Meridian in her bedroom, is similar to a scene with a lady named Silver St. Cloud, in "The Laughing Fish" segment of 1978's "Strange Apparitions" story line in Detective Comics.
The original trailer shows Bruce Wayne face to face with and spreading his arms out to mimic a large bat whether in his dreams or as some type of delusion but this never made it to the theatrical release of the movie.
Joe Grifasi (the bank security guard), Debi Mazar (Spice), and Rene Auberjonois (Dr. Burton) all guest starred on the ensemble legal dramas, L.A. Law (1986-1994) and The Practice (1997-2004). Chris O'Donnell (Dick Grayson/Robin) also guest starred on the latter series, but not the former. David E. Kelley was involved with both dramas, as a writer and producer for L.A. Law, and as creator, writer, and producer for The Practice. David E. Kelley's wife, Michelle Pfeiffer, previously played Selina Kyle/Catwoman in Batman Returns (1992).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
When Riddler and Two-Face invade Bruce Wayne's home, Two-Face flips his coin three times. Although many people believe he kept flipping the coin so he could get the desired outcome to kill Bruce (contrary to the comics where he is a stickler for flipping the coin once and unquestioningly accepting what it says), he was actually flipping the coin to determine the fate of all three people in the manor: Alfred Pennyworth, Chase Meridian, and Bruce Wayne.
Batman only definitively kills one character in this film, Two-Face (although it is possible he may also have killed some of his henchmen while escaping their alley trap). Also, he doesn't have any major fight scenes with any of the villains in this film. Robin, however, is seen fighting Two-Face during the climax.
Robin's origin in the movie has elements of all three comic Robins' origins. The first Robin, Dick Grayson's parents are acrobats and are murdered (though not by Two-Face). The second Robin, Jason Todd, is caught stealing the wheels off the Batmobile, much like in the movie when Robin takes the Batmobile for a joyride, and Jason Todd's father is killed by Two-Face. Timothy Drake, the third Robin, discovers Bruce Wayne's secret identity, as does the movie Robin, but Tim Drake does it using his skills as a detective, unlike the movie Robin.
Many scenes were removed from the final cut for pacing reasons. The red diary subplot was extended, with Bruce having guilt over his parents' death, since he insisted on going to the theater on that fatal night. This is hinted in the Theatrical Cut from his repressed memories, and the line of Bruce to Alfred "I killed them" referring to the death of the Flying Graysons. The Batcave actually had a hidden layer beneath the Batmobille floor, explaining how the Batwing and the Batskiboat were saved from the climactic bombing. After Bruce wakes up from the shot, he has temporary amnesia. Alfred finally goads him into visiting the hidden portion of the Batcave. Bruce finds the abandoned diary and reads the last entry more carefully. They had actually gone to see Zorro (as in the comics) upon his father's insistence. Bruce eventually realizes that he was not to blame for the tragic killings, and all of his memories of Batman finally resurface. This would lead more fluently to his final showdown with the Riddler, and his assertion that he has consciously embraced both of his identities .
The movie was going to be shot in Cincinnati, using the old subway tunnel. The exterior of the Gotham City Hippodrome (the arena where Dick Grayson's family is killed) is based on the exterior of Union Terminal, a famous 1930's Art Deco train station in Cincinnati.
Robin first appears in costume after Two-Face lures Batman into a trap. Robin rescues Batman after he was buried beneath rubble. This is an homage to Tim Drake's first appearance as Robin in Batman #442 when he rescued both Batman and Nightwing from under a pile of building rubble caused by a bomb set by Two-Face.
The Hippodome (which housed the circus where Robin's family was killed) was based on Cincinnati's Union Terminal. This same building also served as the model for the Hall of Justice in the Super Friends (1973) cartoon, which featured animated renditions of Batman and Robin.