When Batman Forever hit theaters in 1995, it was a big deal. A notably larger hit than its darker and somewhat controversial “Is this too dark for kids?” predecessor, Batman Returns, Batman Forever would make more money than any other movie at the domestic box office in 1995 (albeit with an asterisk, since Toy Story, released near the end of the year, would ultimately be the biggest box office hit of any movie released in 1995, though much of that was still coming in at the start of 1996).
With a new director and a new Batman, as Joel Schumacher and Val Kilmer stepped in for the departing Tim Burton and Michael Keaton, there were many ways Batman Forever could have stumbled. Instead, it was greeted with open arms and solidified that the Batman character was innately beloved and popular, even as the man behind the mask changed.
Batman Forever’s legacy would be somewhat tarnished though after the release of Schumacher’s follow up film, Batman & Robin, a decidedly NOT well received entry that was a major box office disappointment and led a hiatus on Batman films for eight years, until Christopher Nolan came along. For a while, there was a tendency to group together both Batman Forever and Batman & Robin as films that hurt the Batman brand, despite the clear proof that one was much more popular than the other. But time can heal all wounds and such is the case with Batman Forever 28 years later, which is looked back on fondly once more by many of those who grew up with it. And these days, there’s no better way to know the film has been embraced again than by the recent release of one of the ultimate collectibles for any franchise: High end Hot Toys figures!
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Now available via Sideshow, there are two sixth scale Hot Toys Batman Forever figures: Batman and Robin, depicting, respectively, Val Kilmer and Chris O’Donnell in the costumes they wore in that film. Well, for Kilmer, the second Batman costume he wore in the film, as this figure is specifically depicted in the Sonar Suit from the final act. This makes sense, given that was the costume he wore when he fought alongside Robin for the first time during the film’s climax.
One of the more notorious changes Joel Schumacher’s films made was the addition of nipples to the Batman and Robin suits. In a 2022 interview with Mel Magazine, costume designer Jose Fernandez explained, “It wasn’t fetish to me, it was more informed by Roman armor — like Centurions. And, in the comic books, the characters always looked like they were naked with spray paint on them — it was all about anatomy, and I like to push anatomy. I don’t know exactly where my head was at back in the day, but that’s what I remember. And so, I added the nipples. I had no idea there was going to end up being all this buzz about it.” Michael Keaton’s Batman suit already had introduced sculpted muscles to Batman’s look and Schumacher, at the time Forever opened, said he felt like nipples were simply a natural addition if you’re mimicking the human body.
Notably, the Batman Hot Toys figure does not have nipples, but that’s because the Sonar Suit – unlike the suit Kilmer wears in the first two thirds of the film – did not, instead giving Batman a much larger bat symbol across his chest. But Robin’s suit did have the nipples and so Robin’s Hot Toys figure does as well. Hot Toys figures are often fascinating to look at because they so perfectly recreate movie costumes that you actually often get much more of a better idea of the details than you did from the film itself. Such is the case with Robin, including the very amusing detail of the oh-so prominent codpiece the costume includes, which is, yes, screen accurate.
Both figures look terrific and have the high quality details and likeness recreations one expects from Hot Toys, but the Robin figure is especially strong. The nipples and codpiece of it all will be, ahem, forever discussed, debated, and joked about, but regardless, Robin’s costume in Batman Forever is really striking. Keep in mind, this was the first live-action version of Robin since Burt Ward’s purposely silly version and needed to project a very different vibe to a mainstream audience who only knew Robin from the 1960s Batman TV series.
Though Batman Forever features Dick Grayson as Robin’s alter ego, the Robin costume in the film was based on the comic book suit worn by Tim Drake, which had been introduced in recent years with the specific intent of updating Robin’s dated look, discarding the classic bare legs and short sleeves for something much more tactical and the bright yellow cape with a double sided cape that was black on the exterior. Yes, Robin still had a lot more color to his costume than Batman, but he could much more believably be expected to hide in the shadows with him when necessary.
The Batman Forever Robin suit was an impressive live-action depiction of this costume, while fitting in with the rubber armor aesthetic all the Batman movie suits had. The Hot Toys figure version is a true standout for the line, with vibrant, expertly done paintwork for the distinct colors of the suit, including the trademark red and green, along with all the little touches intact, such as the smaller R logo on the mask.
LOOK INTO THE BAT EYES
Getting all the details of the movie costumes right means getting all of its limitations right as well and so, like with the Michael Keaton Batman Hot Toys figures, poor Batman can’t turn his head at all on his Batman Forever figure, because Val Kilmer could not turn his head in his Batman costume. The actor has spoken about how miserable it was actually wearing the suit and looking at the Hot Toys figure and seeing how much it truly encases the body beneath it, you can understand why.
Batman Forever and Batman and Robin are two of my favorite Batman movies (although I like Batman Forever more). Val Kilmer and George Clooney are great as Batman, Chris O’Donnell is great as Robin, and the villains of the movies are also great. – pongeloud, discussing Batman Forever at Fandom’s Batman Wiki
With no head movement possible, Hot Toys has attempted to make up for this with rolling eyeballs, so he can at least look in different directions. I appreciate this approach as a solve, but the execution is lacking here because the eyes need to be moved separately, not together. While the Michael Keaton Batman Hot Toys figure had a removable piece on the back of his mask allowing you to move both eyes in unison. The Batman Forever figure instead requires you to pull the entire head (and attached cape) off the figure and then use a small plastic wand device to reach up into the neck hole and manipulate each eye separately. It’s quite difficult to do and even more tricky to get the eyes aligned, given they are manipulated separately, and I found myself with a cross-eyed Batman or a Batman with his eyes completely askew before finally getting them back centered and deciding it was best to leave them like that.
More successful is the inclusion of Bat Sonar lenses seen in the film. They are also rather tricky to get in, as they require you completely pulling out the plastic piece with Batman’s regular eyes first from that aforementioned small neck hole, then swapping in the lenses, but are a great touch given it was a specific function of the suit highlighted in Batman Forever.
Another memorable aspect from Joel Schumacher’s Batman films were the notably sleek and shiny weapons and gear used by the heroes. This would go even further in Batman & Robin but it began in Batman Forever and is represented by the accessories Batman comes with in the Hot Toys figure. One of these is a Batarang wrist launcher that includes an extended line you can swap out to replicate Batman actually shooting the Batarang and its attached line forward. After several Spider-Man Hot Toys figures with attachable weblines, it’s great to get a Batman figure with a similar accessory. The Robin figure, it should be noted, only comes with alternate hands, given he didn’t use any other gear in that film.
While the likenesses of both Kilmer and O’Donnell are excellent, I briefly lamented there weren’t alternate, unmasked heads. However, it makes sense when you consider neither character actually appears in costume while also unmasked in Batman Forever and Hot Toys tend to stick to what actually occurred onscreen. Not to mention that the Kilmer Batman costume, like all the Batman suits of this era, doesn’t even truly look like it could be just “unmasked,” given how the entire cowl and cape are attached – there’s a reason Michael Keaton had to literally tear his mask off in Batman Returns.
Hot Toys figures are notably pricey so these obviously wouldn’t be a purchase for a casual fan. But for those with a lot of love for Batman Forever – and there are clearly plenty of people who fit that description – these figures offer rather remarkable recreations of these two iconic characters from this specific era of Batman history.
“Batman Forever is probably my personal favorite of the older movies. Val Kilmer was probably the best pre-Christian Bale live-action Batman, and Jim Carrey’s just pure entertainment in anything.” – ntertainkentsTraveller, discussing Batman Forever at Fandom’s Batman Wiki
The Batman figure’s accessories include an underwater thruster, Sonic Batarang, Batarang launcher and Bat clamp launcher, plus the Bat Sonar lenses and 9 interchangeable hands, while Robin comes with 6 interchangeable hands. Both figures also come with a large stand containing a nameplate and the memorable Batman-meets-Riddler question mark logo for the film. So will we perhaps get Riddler and Two-Face Batman Forever Hot Toys figures down the line? We shall see!
Both Hot Toys figures can be purchased at Sideshow and are available now. The Batman Forever Batman (Sonar Suit) Hot Toys figure is priced at $255 while the Batman Forever Hot Toys Robin figure is $245.
Samples of the Batman Forever Hot Toys figures were provided to Fandom by Sideshow.