More than a week after the death of writer Denny O’Neil, yet another creative force associated with Batman has passed away. According to Variety, Joel Schumacher, the director who will likely be best remembered in comic book circles as the director to take up the Batman franchise reins from Tim Burton, died in New York City on Monday morning after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 80.
Schumacher, the director also behind such iconic films as The Lost Boys and St. Elmo’s Fire, initially took quite a bit of heat from hardcore Dark Knight purists for his creative direction (most infamously the Bat-nipples) on Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. However, time, and revelations that the studio requested the films be more “toyetic” than their predecessors, have led some fans to warm up to the films. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they’ve actually found some newfound popularity in the last few years, with viewers more appreciative of a more colorful, lighthearted, and dare I say fun Caped Crusader, decades before The LEGO Batman Movie proved that could be successful.
Whatever your thoughts in regards to Joel Schumacher as a filmmaker, there can be no doubt he was a genuinely nice guy. Filmmaker Kevin Smith (no stranger to taking flak from Batman fans) took to Twitter to recount his experiences with Schumacher on the Batman & Robin set.
RIP, Joel Schumacher. I met him on the set of the ill-fated Batman & Robin and he couldn’t have been nicer or more hospitable (and the man looooved to gossip). The Incredible Shrinking Woman was an early cable TV classic for me and I loved St Elmo’s Fire, The Client and Flawless. https://t.co/lqs14WPhTm
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) June 22, 2020
Beyond his Batman work, the openly gay Schumacher led quite an extraordinary life even before entering the entertainment industry. His career began in the fashion industry, having studied at Parsons The New School for Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology, by dressing New York department store windows. Eventually he became a costume designer and moved to his real passion behind the camera, directing the aforementioned Brat Pack classic St. Elmo’s Fire and cult vampire hit The Lost Boys.
I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention that, like Bruce Wayne himself, Schumacher lost his parents at a young age, which may explain what drew him to Batman and helped him connect to the character.
Above all else, Joel Schumacher will be remembered as a filmmaker who wasn’t afraid to make bold choices, with a diverse filmography right up until the end of his career. He will be missed.