We all have our favorite superheroes. And because superhero movies are huge money makers, we make a lot of them. That means different actors portraying the same superhero, which leads to fraught arguments about which actor was the best Batman or Spiderman and so forth. Val Kilmer, who played Batman in 1995’s Batman Forever and then left the role behind, recently spoke with the New York Times about why he abandoned the iconic character.
According to Kilmer, he was waiting for billionaire Warren Buffet and his grandchildren to visit the set and meet Kilmer dressed as Batman. But when the kids arrived, they basically ignored Kilmer and rushed for the Batmobile and other Batman-related objects on set.
“That’s why it’s so easy to have five or six Batmans. It’s not about Batman. There is no Batman,” he said, also explaining that he ultimately feels some guilt about being hard to work with.
“In an unflinching attempt to empower directors, actors and other collaborators to honor the truth and essence of each project, an attempt to breathe Suzukian life into a myriad of Hollywood moments, I had been deemed difficult and alienated the head of every major studio,” Kilmer said.
“Everyone has to work out their own salvation. How to live and by what morality, and I found that the part that I feel bad about is hurting somebody in the process.”
Batman Forever director Joel Schumacher is more concise about the events that took place on set.
“He wanted to do Island of Doctor Moreau because Marlon Brando was going to be in it,” Schumacher said. “So he dropped us at the eleventh hour.”
Kilmer says this wasn’t quite the case. He explains that it was actually scheduling difficulties with The Saint that caused George Clooney to replace him as Batman in 1997’s Batman & Robin.
Schumacher stands behind his assessment of Kilmer’s behavior during the making of the film. He told Vulture in 2019 that Kilmer was “psychotic” on set.
“Here’s the difference between Val Kilmer and Tommy Lee Jones. I don’t care what state Tommy is in emotionally, when that camera rolls, there is no bad take. Val is a different story,” he explained.
“But he was a fabulous Batman.”