Clooney wore the Batsuit first ... and didn't like it (Photo: Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection)
While movie fans everywhere are protesting Ben Affleck as the next Batman in Zack Snyder's combination Batman-and-Superman sequel, we're wondering whether former Bat-guy (and close friend and collaborator) George Clooney tried to knock some sense into the 41-year-old actor-director.
Lest we forget, Clooney played the Caped Crusader in 1997's "Batman & Robin," the movie that killed off the franchise for a good long while (until Christopher Nolan's super successful revamped trilogy starring Christian Bale hit the big screen in 2005). Clooney hasn't been shy over the years about his feelings toward the project. Here are a few valuable lessons the actor-director-producer should have passed along to his good old friend and fellow "Argo" Oscar winner Affleck:
1. The Costume Could Kill ... Someone
The Batsuit got a redesign for "Batman & Robin," and Clooney wasn't the only one who was a little weirded out by its man-nipples. "They put nipples on the Batsuit. I didn't know they would do that," a mortified Clooney said. The actor also found it almost impossible to move around in the bulky costume, let alone act. "If Batman had to wear the suit that you have to wear, everyone would die," Clooney said. "You're laying on a board like this and you can't move and they just prop you up and you're like, 'I'm Batman'."
2. If the Movie Is Bad, You'll Get the Blame
In an interview with Total Film, Clooney admitted "Batman & Robin" was a big break for him. At the time, he was still best known for his role on the TV drama "ER" – but when the movie did a nose dive at the box office, a lot of people felt he was responsible. "Batman is still the biggest break I ever had and it completely changed my career, even if it was weak and I was weak in it," Clooney said. "It was a difficult film to be good in. I don’t know what I could have done differently. But if I am going to be Batman in the film 'Batman & Robin,' I can't say it didn’t work and then not take some of the blame for that."
Affleck and Clooney at the Critics' Choice Awards in January (Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
3. Batman Can Suck the Life From Your Career
Having made a bunch of unsuccessful movies in the 'Aughts – including the superhero misfire "Daredevil" and the punch line waiting to happen "Gigli" – Affleck has only recently restored his name as a top-level talent through directing films like "Argo" and "The Town." Clooney might want to point out to Affleck that playing Batman was the moment where he learned he needed to be choosier about his projects. "At that point I realized I'd better start picking better," Clooney said. "My next three movies were 'Out Of Sight,' 'Three Kings,' and 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' It was, 'OK, at last I understand now what I want to do."
4. Superhero Movies Are Stupid and Wasteful
According to Clooney, while he was shooting his first directorial project, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," he and his crew liberated a camera crane from the set of "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," the $100 million Eddie Murphy flop that was being shot on a nearby sound stage. "Confessions" cost a relatively thrifty $29 million, and Clooney says that seeing the wasteful spending on "Batman & Robin" taught him a lesson. As Clooney told the New York Times, "I've been in those 'Pluto Nash' kind of movies – 'Batman and Robin' cost $160 million — and you know they're a waste of money."
5. Big, Bad Movies Never Go Away
Affleck of all people should know this (*cough* "Gigli")! Clooney told one reporter that he occasionally has nightmares about "Batman & Robin," and despite his many accomplishments, he knows there are still people who think of him as the guy in the really lousy "Batman" movie. And don't think he's forgotten. As Clooney himself put it, "With hindsight, it's easy to look back at this and go, 'Woah, that was really s---, and I was really bad in it!"
But Don't You Want to Tell Your Friends You're Going to Be Batman?
Of course you do! Getting to be Batman and getting paid a few million bucks for the privilege? What kind of guy says no to that? For all his misgivings about "Batman & Robin," Clooney knows the score. "The truth is, my phone rang, and the head of Warner Bros, said, 'Come into my office, you are going to play Batman in a 'Batman' film,'" Clooney said. "And I said, 'Yeah!' I called my friends and they screamed and I screamed and we couldn’t believe it!"
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- George Clooney