Joel Schumacher, director of Batman franchise entries, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin and a number of 80s classics, including The Lost Boys, Flatliners, St. Elmo’s Fire, DC Cab and so many more, has died. The filmmaker was 80-years-old. Schumacher passed away after a year-long battle with cancer. He died in New York City.
Starting in the industry as a costume designer, Joel Schumacher began directing in 70s, getting a couple of TV movies under his belt. But it was in the 80s when he truly began to flourish, as he was behind the camera for several movies that have gone on to become true classics of the decade. The first of these was 1985’s St. Elmo’s Fire, which starred Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore and Rob Lowe. Schumacher followed that up with arguably his most beloved movie, 1987’s vampire flick The Lost Boys. With a cast that includes Corey Feldman, Corey Haim and Kiefer Sutherland, it proved to be a big hit and has endured as something of a genre classic.
Cousins followed in 1989, but Joel Schumacher delivered another genre classic with 1990’s Flatliners. Reteaming with Kiefer Sutherland, the sci-fi/drama that sees a group of medical students experimenting with near death experiences, also went on to become a hit and spawned a remake in 2017. Schumacher’s next two efforts, Dying Young and Falling Down, were released in 1991 and 1993, respectively. Schumacher also directed 1983’s D.C. Cab, which centered on a group of streetwise cabbies and starred Mr. T.
But it was in 1995 where Joel Schumacher would arguably make his biggest contribution to cinema. Following Tim Burton’s exit from the franchise after Batman and Batman Returns, Schumacher was handed over the key’s to the iconic DC hero to craft his next live-action adventure on the big screen. The result was Batman Forever, which saw Val Kilmer taking over as Bruce Wayne, with Jim Carrey on board as Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face. The result was a big financial hit, as it earned $336 million at the global box office.
Val Kilmer exited the role after just one go-around, paving the way for George Clooney to take over as Batman to partner up with Chris O’Donnell’s Robin. With Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, the resulting Batman & Robin proved to be a critical low point for the franchise. Ultimately, it led to Warner Bros. shelving the property for nearly a decade before Christopher Nolan reinvented the character for modern audiences with Batman Begins.