The Batman Forever Effect

Can a Batman movie really teach us a valuable life lesson? 

It can, but it really doesn't have anything to do with the actual film itself. To start with, let's go back to the summer of 1995 and remind ourselves what Batman Forever was all about.

After the two Tim Burton movies, Val Kilmer took on the role of Batman and faced Jim Carrey's Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face.

This one also had a new director, Joel Schumacher and it took a step back from the dark, gothic tones of its predecessors. It also introduced Robin.

Despite a PR blitz from Warner Brothers, desperately trying not to focus on the fact that someone else was playing Batman, I have nothing but fond memories of this at the time and I actually saw it several times at the cinema. The U2 theme song was playing everywhere and it was pretty much business as usual for this series.

Batman Forever

It was different, but I don't remember any complaints at the time.

Joel Schumacher gave us his vision of Batman and it certainly all worked within the framework of the series. I also remember it being successful and it obviously did well enough to warrant a sequel.

This is where it started to go wrong though.

The sequel, Batman and Robin was not only a flop but it pretty much killed the series and invited widespread ridicule. All the new elements Schumacher had introduced to Batman Forever were 'turned up to eleven' and it had a lot more in common with the campy Adam West movie than the Michael Keaton one.

The actors didn't help, as Arnold Schwarzenegger was really annoying as Mr Freeze and George Clooney's Batman will never be fondly remembered by anyone. 

Right now you're probably assuming this is one of my home entertainment blog posts but as I mentioned at the start, this little history lesson can actually teach us an important productivity and personal development lesson? 

That's right, we can learn another important lesson in addition to never casting George Clooney as a superhero again.

The lesson is simple, people now view Batman Forever differently because of Batman and Robin.

Even though they probably enjoyed Batman Forever when it was released, or overlooked most of the things that may have annoyed them about it, it's clear that the sequel has tainted it for a lot of people. By being overly campy and over-the-top, it immediately draws comparisons with moments in the previous film where these elements started to appear.

I could go on about cognitive bias here, but it's probably best to head straight to what this can teach us.

I think the main thing we can take aware from this is that any mistakes we make or extremely poor work we produce is likely to taint what we've done before. This can be the consequence of cutting corners and ignoring the general consensus.

If we were to analyse the audience, the previous movies and the direction of the character at the time, I don't think any of us would agree it was a good idea to make Batman and Robin. Christopher Nolan certainly didn't and look what happened.