Batman & Robin is a 1997 American superhero film based on the DC Comics characters Batman and Robin. It is the fourth and final installment of Warner Bros.' initial Batman film series. The film was directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Akiva Goldsman. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell, Alicia Silverstone, and Uma Thurman. Batman & Robin tells the story of Batman and Robin as they attempt to prevent Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy from freezing all mankind to death and repopulating the earth with mutant plants, while at the same time struggling to keep their partnership together. It is also to date the only live-action film appearance of Batgirl, who helps the title characters fight the villains.
Warner Bros. fast-tracked development for Batman & Robin following the box office success of the previous film, Batman Forever. Schumacher and Goldsman conceived the storyline during pre-production on A Time to Kill, while Val Kilmer decided not to reprise the role over scheduling conflicts with The Saint. Schumacher had a strong interest in casting William Baldwin in Kilmer's place before George Clooney won the role. Principal photography began in September 1996 and finished in January 1997, two weeks ahead of the shooting schedule.
Batman & Robin was released on June 20, 1997. While it performed modestly at the box office, making $238.2 million worldwide against a production budget of $125 million, the film was a critical box office flop and is often considered to be one of the worst films of all time. It is also the lowest grossing live-action Batman movie to date. Due to the film's negative reception, Warner Bros. cancelled a sequel, Batman Unchained, and rebooted the film series with Batman Begins in 2005. One of the songs recorded for the film, "The End Is the Beginning Is the End" by The Smashing Pumpkins, won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 40th Grammy Awards. The film is also credited with the US debut of Moloko.
The film begins with Batman and Robin quickly responding to a scene of the crime, on the way down, Comissioner Gordon tells them that the criminal is Mr. Freeze who is attempting to steal a valuable diamond from the local museum. They are able to track Freeze in the museum, and after a game of ice hockey, they chase after him to an disused building. Robin attempts to stop Freeze, but is frozen in progress. Freeze takes the diamond from his grasp and escapes with it as Batman stays behind to thaw Robin back to normal. Meanwhile, In South America, Dr. Pamela Isley is working under Dr. Jason Woodrue, experimenting with the Venom drug. She then witnesses Woodrue use the formula to turn Antonio Diego, a diminutive serial convict, into a hulking monstrosity dubbed "Bane". Woodrue and Isley argue over the use of the drug and Woodrue "kills" her by pushing her backwards into a bench of various steroids and toxins.
Her remains then seemingly melt into the ground. Shortly afterwards, she rises from the wreckage and transforms into the beautiful and seductive Poison Ivy in front of Woodrue, before killing him with a poisonous kiss. She finds that Wayne Enterprises funded Woodrue. So she takes Bane with her to Gotham City, in order for him to act as her personal bodyguard. Meanwhile, Alfred's niece, Barbara Wilson, makes a surprise visit and is invited by Bruce Wayne to stay at Wayne Manor until she goes back to school.
Meanwhile in the abandoned frozen Ice Cream Factory, it is revealed that Mr. Freeze's wife was stricken with a mysterious disease, MacGregor's Syndrome, which he is trying to find a cure for. Alfred also becomes stricken with the first stage of MacGregor's Syndrome and is dying.
Wayne Enterprises presents a new telescope to the Gotham Observatory at a press conference, but is interrupted by Isley. She proposes a project that could help the environment, but Bruce declines her offer, as it would kill millions of people.
That night, a charity event is held by Wayne Enterprises (to lure Freeze out) with special guests, Batman and Robin. Ivy decides to use her abilities to seduce them. Freeze crashes the party and attempts to steal a diamond from the event. Batman and Robin give chase, Robin attempts for a second attempt to stop Freeze, but Batman - not wanting to have the similar near-death experience happening to his word - deactivates his motorcycle engine. Batman eventually succeeds of capturing Freeze and sent him to a chamber prison in Arkham Asylum. Stripped out of his sub-zero suit, Freeze is forced to stay in the frozen light beam to survive. Meanwhile, Robin confronts Batman over the act of foiling his attempt to stop Freeze where the two start to have relationship problems, due to the presence of Ivy's seductive ability with Robin.
Ivy and Bane break Freeze out of Arkham Asylum - with Freeze blasting a hole in the wall by winterizing the water pipes from his suit - and they return to his hideout where the police and Batman and Robin are investigating. Freeze goes after his freeze ray gun whilst Ivy and Bane take care of Batman and Robin - with Ivy unplugging the tank where Freeze's wife is stored in behind his back. Batman and Robin almost stopped Ivy and Bane, but Robin falls under Ivy's seductive spell and attempts to kiss him, only for Batman to intervene, causing the two heroes to fight, inadvertently letting the villains escape. Enraged, Robin ends his crime-fighting relationship with Batman and goes solo.
With Freeze taking refuge in Ivy's hideout, Ivy tells Freeze that Batman killed his wife, and revealing her necklace. Horrified and grief stricken, Freeze swears revenge on Batman and plans to freeze Gotham. As the people are visiting the observatory, Ivy disguised as Isley, succeeds of getting the keys to the bat signal from Commissioner Gordon after placing him under her spell, Bruce Wayne spots this and quietly leaves the observatory back to the batcave.
Ivy modifies the bat-signal by changing it to Robin's signal. Robin is about to respond to her call, but Bruce Wayne intervenes, revealing that Ivy has killed the airport security checkers when she arrived, and finally convinces him to trust him, restoring their friendship. Robin arrives at Ivy's lair, but she fails to kill him due to Robin wearing rubber lips to protect him from the venom. Robin becomes trapped, but rescued by Batman. Meanwhile, Batgirl arrives and fights Ivy, eventually beating her by trapping her in her own plants. In the meantime, while Freeze and Bane flee, Batgirl reveals that she is Barbara and knows the location of the Batcave.
Batman, Robin and Batgirl decide to go after Freeze and Bane together. By the time they get to the observatory where Freeze and Bane are, Gotham is completely frozen. Robin and Batgirl confront Bane and defeat him after they manage to pull out Bane's main Venom supply tube, causing him massive withdrawal and returning him back to his original state.
Meanwhile Batman and Freeze begin to fight each other, with Batman winning in a cliffhanger battle: Freeze tries to kill Batman by destroying the telescope platform but only succeeds in crushing the weakened Bane. Batgirl and Robin unfreeze Gotham and Batman shows Freeze a recording of Ivy revealing that she killed Nora, during her fight with Batgirl.
Freeze learns that Ivy has betrayed him over the death of his wife. Ivy blamed Batman for Nora's death, but she informs Batgirl that it was her idea. Freeze is angered by the betrayal and is informed by Batman that his wife is not dead: she is restored in cryogenic slumber and will be moved to Arkham waiting for him to finish his research. Batman proceeds to ask Freeze for the cure he has created for the first stage of MacGregor's Syndrome. He claims that anyone can take a life and that was not power, but to be able to preserve life was true power, power Freeze once had as a doctor. Freeze atones for his misunderstanding by giving him the experimental medicine he had developed.
Later, a depressed and disheveled Poison Ivy is shown imprisoned in the cold beam in Arkham when Freeze walks in and announces he will make her life a living hell of winter for trying to kill his wife and deceiving him. Alfred is given Freeze's cure and eventually healed and everyone agrees to let Barbara stay at the mansion. The film ends like Batman Forever with the image of the Bat-Signal and Batman, Robin and Batgirl appearing as if running from the signal itself towards the camera.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze
A Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist and two-time Olympic decathlete who suffers a terrible accident while trying to cryogenically preserve his terminally ill wife. As a result, he is transformed into a criminal forced to live in a special sub-zero suit powered by diamonds. His goal is to hold Gotham to ransom in order to get the money he needs to complete his research to find a cure for his wife's disease. The role of Mr. Freeze was originally written for Sir Patrick Stewart according to Akiva Goldsman, but he declined and Schwarzenegger was cast instead.
- George Clooney as Bruce Wayne / Batman
A billionaire industrialist who witnessed his parents' murder as a young boy. At night, Bruce becomes Batman, Gotham City's vigilante protector. Val Kilmer, who played the character previously in Batman Forever, was originally planned to reprise his role, but after many problems with Joel Schumacher, the actor declined the offer to play Batman again and Clooney was cast.
- Eric Lloyd portrays him as a child in a flashback.
- Chris O'Donnell as Dick Grayson / Robin
The crime-fighting partner to Batman and ward of Bruce Wayne. He has begun to chafe against Batman's authority.
- Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl / Barbara Wilson
Her parents had previously died in a car accident. Alfred, her uncle, was very close to her mother, Margaret. She is Alfred's niece and is an orphan.
- Uma Thurman as Dr. Pamela Isley / Poison Ivy
A botanist who becomes a crazed eco-terrorist after being pushed into vials of chemicals, poisons and toxins, which replace her blood with aloe, her skin with chlorophyll and filled her lips with venom, making her kiss deadly. She also uses pheromones which make men fall in love with her. Julia Roberts, who worked with director Joel Schumacher in A Time to Kill, was heavily rumored to be in contention for the role, but the rumours were dismissed by Schumacher, saying that if she would have wanted to get the role, she would have called him.
- Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth
The trusted butler for Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. Alfred is dying of a rare disease from which Mr. Freeze's wife also suffers. He was later cured at the end.
- Pat Hingle as Commissioner James Gordon
The police commissioner of Gotham City. He is close to Batman and informs him of numerous crimes.
- John Glover as Dr. Jason Woodrue / Floronic Man
A deranged scientist who aims to create Venom-powered "supersoldiers" to sell to dictators and warlords in order to make millions. He is responsible for the creation of both Bane and Poison Ivy, the latter of whom kills him with a kiss from her toxic lips.
- Elle Macpherson as Julie Madison
Bruce Wayne's girlfriend. She proposes to Bruce, but he does not respond, fearing for her safety.
- Vivica A. Fox as Ms. B. Haven
Mr. Freeze's sexy assistant who flirts with him once and only once in the film. He is unresponsive, as he is still in love with his wife.
- Robert "Jeep" Swenson as Antonio Diego / Bane
Poison Ivy's bodyguard and muscle, who was originally a diminutive serial murderer. Transformed into a hugely powerful "Super-soldier" by the strength-enhancing drug "Venom", he was seen getting Mr. Freeze's suit back from Arkham Asylum, as well as fighting against the main heroes several times. Despite proving more than a match for Batman and Robin earlier on, he is eventually defeated by Robin and Batgirl after they find a way to stop the venom flow to his brain. Swenson was suggested for the role by one of the stuntmen of Batman Forever. Batman & Robin was Swenson's final film role, as he passed away due a heart failure two months after the film's release.
- Michael Reid MacKay portrays him prior to his transformation.
- Vendela Kirsebom as Nora Fries
Mr. Freeze's beloved cryogenically-frozen wife.
- Elizabeth Sanders as Gossip Gerty
Gotham's top gossip columnist.
- Jesse Ventura as Arkham Asylum Guard
- Patrick Leahy as himself
- Jack Ingle as the Doctor
- Jack Betts as Party Guest
- Nicky Katt as Spike