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Batman & Robin is a 1997 superhero film directed by Joel Schumacher. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, the film is a sequel to Batman Forever (1995), with George Clooney replacing Val Kilmer as Batman. Batman & Robin also stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman, Chris O'Donnell, and Alicia Silverstone. The film tells the story of Bruce Wayne/Batman and Dick Grayson/Robin struggling to keep their relationship together. At the same time, they have to stop Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Bane from covering Gotham City with ice and vegetation.
Development for Batman & Robin started immediately after Batman Forever, and Warner Bros. commissioned the film on fast track for an adamant June 1997 release. Principal photography began in September 1996 and finished in January 1997, two weeks ahead of the shooting schedule. Batman & Robin was released on June 20, 1997, and was critically panned. Batman & Robin was a modest financial success, but observers criticized the film for its toyetic and campy approach, and for possible homosexual innuendo added by Schumacher. Batman & Robin received numerous nominations at the Razzie Awards and is widely considered to be one of the worst superhero films of all time. Batman & Robin led to the unproduced Batman Triumphant, but the film series was eventually rebooted with Batman Begins (2005).
The film begins with Batman (George Clooney) and Robin (Chris O'Donnell) stopping Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzeneger) from a robbery attempt, but he escapes. In South America, Pamela Isley (Uma Thurman) is working under Dr. Jason Woodrue (John Glover), experimenting with the Venom drug. She witnesses Woodrue use the formula to turn a diminutive convict into a hulking monstrosity dubbed "Bane" (Jeep Swenson). Woodrue and Isley argue over the use of the drug and Woodrue kills her by overturning a shelf of various toxins onto her and she sinks into the ground. She transforms into the beautiful and seductive Poison Ivy before killing Woodrue-with a poison kiss. She finds that Wayne Enterprises funded Woodrue, thus she takes Bane with her to Gotham City. Meanwhile, Alfred Pennyworth's (Michael Gough) niece, Barbara Wilson (Alicia Silverstone), makes a surprise visit and is invited by Bruce Wayne to stay at Wayne Manor until she goes back to school.
Wayne Enterprises presents a new telescope at a press conference interrupted by Isley. She proposes a project that could help the environment, but Bruce declines her offer, as it would kill millions of people. That night, a charity event is held by Wayne Enterprises with special guests, Batman and Robin, and she decides to use her abilities to seduce them. Freeze crashes the party and steals a diamond from the event. However, he is captured and sent to a chamber prison in Arkham Asylum, but escapes with the help of Ivy and Bane. Batman and Robin begin to have crime fighting relationship problems because of the presence of Ivy's seductive ability with Robin. Ivy is then able to contact Robin once more, but fails to seduce him. Robin becomes trapped, but rescued by Batman. Batgirl arrives and traps Ivy within her own plants, while Freeze and Bane flee. Batgirl reveals that she is Barbara and knows the location of the Batcave.
Batman, Robin and Batgirl decide to go after Freeze together. By the time they get to the lab where Freeze and Bane are, Gotham is completely frozen. Robin and Batgirl confront Bane and defeat him by disconnecting his venom hose, while Batman and Freeze begin to fight each other, with Batman winning in a cliffhanger battle; Freeze tries to kill Batman by destroying the telescope platform but only succeeds in crushing Bane. Batgirl and Robin unfreeze Gotham and Batman shows Freeze a recording of Ivy during her fight with Batgirl. Freeze learns that Ivy has betrayed him over the death of his wife. Ivy blamed Batman for Nora's death, but she informs Batgirl that it was her idea. Freeze is angered by the betrayal and is informed by Batman that his wife is not dead; she is restored in cryogenic slumber and has been moved to Arkham waiting for him to finish his research. Batman proceeds to ask Freeze for the cure Freeze has created for the first stage of MacGregor's Syndrome, the disease that Freeze's wife is suffering from, for a friend (Alfred) who is dying. Freeze atones for his misunderstanding by giving him medicine he had developed. Nearly insane Ivy is shown imprisoned in the cold beam in Arkham and Freeze walks in and announces he will make her life a living hell of winter. Alfred is eventually healed and everyone agrees to let Barbara stay at the mansion. The film ends like (Batman Forever) with the image of the Bat-Signal, with Batman, Robin and Batgirl appearing as if running from the signal itself towards the camera.
With the box office success of Batman Forever in June 1995, Warner Bros. instantly commissioned a sequel. They hired director Joel Schumacher and writer Akiva Goldsman to reprise their duties the following August, and decided it was best to fast track production for a June 1997 target release date. Schumacher wanted to homage both the broad camp style of the 1960s television series and the work of Dick Sprang. The storyline of Batman & Robin was conceived by Schumacher and Goldsman during pre-production on A Time to Kill. Portions of Mr. Freeze's back-story were based on the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Heart of Ice", written by Paul Dini. The original start date was August 1996,but principal photography did not begin until September 12, 1996. Batman & Robin finished filming in late-January 1997, two weeks ahead of the shooting schedule. The film was mostly shot at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California.
When comparing work on Batman Forever, Chris O'Donnell, who portrayed Robin, explained, "It just felt like everything got a little soft the second time. On Batman Forever, I felt like I was making a movie. The second time, I felt like I was making a kid's toy commercial." According to John Glover, who played Dr. Jason Woodrue, "Joel [Schumacher] would sit on a crane with a megaphone and yell before each take, 'Remember everyone, this is a cartoon'. It was hard to act because that kind of set the tone for the film." Production designer Barbara Ling admitted her influences for the Gotham City design came from "neon-ridden Tokyo and the Machine Age. Gotham is like a World's Fair on ecstasy." Rhythm and Hues and Pacific Data Images created the visual effects sequences, with John Dykstra and Andrew Adamson credited as the visual effects supervisors.