Twenty-five years ago this month, Batman Forever was playing in multiplexes and it was hard to leave your house without being reminded of that fact roughly every 90 seconds. Billboards showing Val Kilmer, Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris O’Donnell, and Nicole Kidman dotted the landscape; Super Nintendo was selling a Batman Forever video game; Kenner had an extensive line of action figures; and if you ordered french fries at McDonald’s you’d see the Riddler or Two-Face on the sleeve.
Then there was the soundtrack. Tim Burton brought in Prince to create music for Batman in 1989 with tremendous success, and Siouxsie and the Banshees to create music for Batman Returns in 1992 with much less success. This time around, Joel Schumacher was at the helm and an ambitious soundtrack was put together featuring contributions from Seal, Brandy, PJ Harvey, Mazzy Star, Michael Hutchence, the Offspring, Sunny Day Real Estate, and U2.
The biggest hit was Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose,” which won Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the 1996 Grammys and helped the album hit Number Five on the Billboard Album Chart, but U2’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” was also a hit. It topped singles charts all over the globe, but stalled at Number 16 on the Hot 100 in America.
“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” was originally recorded during the Zooropa sessions in 1993. It’s about the decadent life of a rock star, but lines like “You’re a big smash/You wear it like a rash” worked quite well in the context of Batman. There was even talk of Bono’s MacPhisto character from the Zoo TV tour appearing briefly in the movie, but it didn’t wind up happening. In the song’s animated video, you can see MacPhisto and the band playing around in the Batman universe. Check it out right here.
The song’s failure to match its overseas chart success in America was perhaps an early sign that U2 fatigue was starting to sink in. That became clear two years later when Pop dramatically underperformed in the States and some dates on the stadium tour were played to thousands of empty seats. “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” was in the set list every night on that tour, but wouldn’t appear again until 2010 on the U2 360 tour.
Batman Forever, meanwhile, was a huge box-office success, even though many critics preferred the Tim Burton movies. They felt that Schumacher’s take was a little too light and campy, but there are reports of a longer cut that’s considerably darker. In the aftermath of Schumacher’s death in June, there’s a growing movement to release it.
“Representatives for the studio say there are no discussions about distributing a director’s cut of Batman Forever,” reads a recent report in Variety, “and are not aware if footage for an extended version has even survived 25 years later. Even so, at least some of the deleted scenes do appear in DVD and Blu-ray editions of the movie, and have made their way to YouTube.”
That means fans can at least create their extended cuts of the movie, and a clever one could probably even find a way to work the “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” video into it, bringing Bono into the Batman universe at last.