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Why Batman fans are freaking out over DC FanDome

After two successful Batman films, director Tim Burton walked away from the franchise, with star Michael Keaton hanging up his pointy ears as well. A few years later, Joel Schumacher took the director's chair, helping Val Kilmer find the Bruce Wayne beneath Batman's cape and cowl. Batman Forever kept up a pattern Burton had established in Batman Returns of featuring multiple villains, bringing in Tommy Lee Jones to become Harvey "Two Face" Dent and Jim Carrey to bring Edward Nigma, a.k.a. the Riddler, to maniacal life. Schumacher decided to add something new to the formula, too — Chris O'Donnell as Batman's long-time ward Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Robin.

Batman Forever is a colorful, madcap romp drenched in neon and mid-'90s MTV style, and while it was a box office success, it wasn't exactly the kind of brooding character study many Bat-fans crave. After all, Schumacher was sometimes derided in the Batman fandom as the guy who put nipples on the Batsuit.

But after his death in June 2020, there was an outpouring of support for Schumacher's work in general, and his take on Batman in particular. With Zack Snyder in the news for his own director's cut of Justice League, word started to filter out — starting with Marc Bernardin, co-host of the podcast Fatman Beyond with Kevin Smith — about a darker, more serious 170-minute director's cut of Batman Forever that allegedly exists in some form, somewhere in the Warner vaults. 

Fast-forward to August 7, 2020, when DC announced that their upcoming DC FanDome event (think Comic-Con but just for DC) would have a special guest: Val Kilmer. Now, fans are going wild with speculative excitement over what the former Bat-star might be doing there — could he be there to announce a new cut of Batman Forever?

What are the chances of a Schumacher Cut of Batman Forever?

There are a few important things to keep in mind about the state of Batman in 2020. For one thing, we're about to see our second actor in the big-screen role of the Dark Knight within the course of just a few years. Ben Affleck was Bruce Wayne for Batman v Superman and Justice League, but bowed out during pre-production for the stand-alone film The Batman. And while Batfleck will ride once more in Zack Snyder's Justice League, we've got a new man behind the cape and cowl in Robert Pattinson.

But that's not all. The biggest Batman rumor out there is that there's at least one other actor set to play Batman, this time in the upcoming film The Flash: Michael Keaton. There's a ton of speculation about this and there definitely seems to be truth to the rumors, but we don't know for sure what version of Batman Keaton will play, if he does indeed return. Is he reprising his original character as an alternate universe version of Batman? Is he a future, Batman Beyond-inspired Batman? We don't have a definitive answer yet.

So, we know multiple Batmen are flapping our way. We know Zack Snyder's Justice League is happening. What does Val Kilmer's appearance mean?

Unfortunately, Kilmer, who fought a two-year battle with throat cancer, is unlikely to return to the role of Batman. Is it possible that his appearance at DC FanDome is to not only pay homage to his late director, Joel Schumacher, but to also officially announce the release of a director's cut of Batman Forever — the version Schumacher wanted fans to see, a version fans might even love? Yes, it's very possible, and fans who are justifiably flipping out over that possibility will find out for sure when Kilmer takes the virtual stage at DC FanDome on August 22.