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New Escapist Column! On the Strange Moral Panic Around “Batman Forever”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. With the film turning twenty-five last month and rumours circulating of a Joel Schumacher cut, it seemed like a good time to discuss Batman Forever.

Following on from Batman and Batman Returns, there was an immediate push for Batman Forever to be a much more conventional blockbuster. One of the interesting consequences of this is the complete erasure of anything that makes a Batman movie distinctive or unique. Batman Forever feels like a moral panic film, one desperately worried how kids might respond to the weirdness or dysfunction of Batman Returns. As such, Batman Forever offers a much more generic, much more conventional, much straighter, less interesting take on the Caped Crusader than any other film.

Indeed, the film resembles nothing so much as the moral panic around the character in the fifties, when – prompted by the publication of Doctor Frederic Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent – there was a conscious effort to massage the character into a much more straightforward (and less complicated and less provocative) shape. Batman Forever follows a lot of the same playbook, resulting in a vision of Batman just as lost and muddled as so many of those fifties stories.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.