Batman Forever Director Joel Schumacher Is Dead At 80

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Schumacher was 80 years old. Schumacher's first feature films as a director were "The Incredible Shrinking Woman" (1981), starring Lily Tomlin, and "D.C. Cab" (1983), starring Mr. T.

Following St. Elmo's Fire, Joel Schumacher churned out The Lost Boys in 1987, Flatliners in 1990 and The Client in 1994, all of which were commercial successes. That became an even bigger hit - and launched the film career of a young Matthew McConaughey, who played the lawyer at the story's center.

Schumacher was given the "Batman" franchise following Tim Burton's exit from Warner Bros. In sharp contrast with the darker, gothic tone of Batman and Batman Returns, Batman Forever was a significantly more campy affair, and aside from Michael Gough and Pat Hingle reprising Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon, respectively, the cast was an entirely new lineup that included Val Kilmer, Nicole Kidman, Chris O'Donnell, Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones. The next few years would see him struggle to recapture that streak with the poorly received 8MM, Flawless and Bad Company while delivering occasional critical successes such as Phone Booth, Tigerland and The Phantom of the Opera.

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He also was in the director's chair for some high-profile music videos including Seal's chart-topping hit "Kiss from a Rose", from 1995's Batman Forever, and INXS' "Devil Inside" (1988).

Former "House of Cards" showrunner Beau Willimon collaborated with Schumacher when the director helmed episodes of the Netflix series early in its run. But when I look at his work, both good and bad, what I do see - and admire - is a filmmaker who was willing to take chances on untested talent and potentially controversial subjects and themes. (The Number 23 might fall into that last category.) Hollywood could use more Joel Schumachers these days.

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