WIJDW: The Infamous Bat Credit Card
February 20, 2012/0 Comments/in Basic: Movies & TV, BLOGS, Chris Langs Commentaries /by Chris Lang

Hello and welcome to another installment of a series I like to call Why It Just Doesn’t Work (or WIJDW for short). Here, I take a look at scenes from movies, television, comic books, and other forms of entertainment, and explain why I feel they are illogical, nonsensical, and/or just … don’t work.

Again, I’m going to discuss the 90’s Batman movies. This time, I’m going to talk about something familiar to many longtime fans of the Nostalgia Critic. I’m going to talk about … a Bat Credit Card.

A Bat Credit Card (aka a nonsensical cheap sight gag)



(At this point, I pause to allow all the Nostalgia Critic fans in the audience time to re-enact the Nostalgia Critic’s breakdown from his review of Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin. And for those who haven’t seen that review yet, I highly recommend you do so. It’s one of the NC’s funniest).

At conventions Doug Walker (who plays the Nostalgia Critic) is often asked to re-enact that breakdown, and there have been a few callbacks to it in later episodes. But what is it about the Bat Credit Card that inspired the NC’s classic comedic breakdown?

To start, I’ll have to discuss the movie itself and how the film came to be in the first place. Batman Returns, the second of the Tim Burton/Michael Keaton films, was not quite as well-received as the first film. There were many who felt it was ‘too dark’ (which is ironic since over a decade later, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight became a HUGE hit and it’s probably the darkest Batman movie to date. Perhaps people just weren’t ready for it back in 1992).

Among those who felt it was too dark for mainstream audiences were Warner Bros. studio executives. They wanted a film that was lighter in tone, so they removed Tim Burton as director of the third film, and replaced him with Joel Schumacher. Although Michael Keaton refused to be a part of the third film and was replaced in the title role by Val Kilmer, Batman Forever was presumably set in the same universe as the first two films. And so was the film that followed, Batman and Robin.

Batman Forever had a more colorful, brighter, feel to it. It introduced Chris O’Donnell as Robin, and the darkness of his parents being killed managed to keep things from going TOO far into Adam West territory. While it’s not as good as the first film, it’s nowhere near as bad as the fourth film. Unfortunately, it did pave the way for what we would see in the fourth film, with the introduction of campy, goofier elements and the infamous ‘Bat-nipple’ costumes.

In the fourth film, titled Batman and Robin, George Clooney took over the title role while Chris O’Donnell returned as Robin. This film, like the previous installments, featured multiple antagonists with Arnold Schwartznegger as Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. The film was an unmitigated disaster — all the worst points of Batman Forever (the campiness, the cheesy dialogue) were cranked up to eleven. There were a number of plot holes and implausibilities. Were I to discuss them all, I’d be here all day. But I’ll just discuss the scene that inspired one of the Nostalgia Critic’s best-known freakouts.

As the Critic puts it in his review, the same Batman who used to hide in the shadows and steal photos taken of him is now making public appearances at ‘a sexist auction where men bid on good-looking women to take out on a date.’ Poison Ivy shows up and uses her hypnotic perfume (it might make sense in context, unlike what I’m about to describe) to put Batman and Robin under her spell.

Batman and Robin start bidding on her, and it’s here where Batman whips out … the Bat Credit Card. “Never leave the cave without it.” he quips.

This, of course, drives the Nostalgia Critic nuts in the review. But why? I can’t speak for Doug Walker, but I have to agree that the Bat Credit Card is just complete and total nonsense.

First off, how would Batman get such a thing? In order to get a credit card, you need to provide personal details. How would he be able to do that without revealing his secret identity? Secondly, WHY would he have, or even want, a special custom credit card?

Thirdly, take a good look at the Bat Credit Card. There’s the cute little line that it’s good till ‘forever’, an obvious nod to the title of the previous film. And then there’s the ‘Goth Card’ logo. That is pretty much the clincher. The filmmakers have deliberately violated sense and internal logic just for the sake of a silly sight gag.

This wouldn’t be so bad in a Mel Brooks movie or a Zucker/Abrams movie or a Muppet film or a Looney Tunes film. Those films are silly comedies that we aren’t supposed to take seriously anyway. But Batman and Robin is supposed to be the fourth in a series of movies that began with Tim Burton’s fairly dark 1989 Batman and continued with the much darker Batman Returns. We are supposed to consider these films to be superhero dramas with the occasional bits of comic relief.

Trying to make a later installment of a fairly straight superhero series into a comedy didn’t work with Superman III, and it doesn’t work here either. This film owes a lot more to the silly, campy 60’s Batman TV show featuring Adam West than it does to the prior films in the series, and this approach … just doesn’t work.

It MIGHT have worked had Joel Schumacher rebooted the Batman franchise, and done a previous film with a Joker who was closer to Cesar Romero’s portrayal than Jack Nicholson’s. But instead, we got a Batman and Robin that TRIED to be a sequel to the Burton films, but went against the prior films’ characterizations and internal logic. In the end, Batman and Robin was a colossal failure, George Clooney even publically apologized for it, and we didn’t get another Batman film until Christopher Nolan rebooted the Batman franchise several years later.

I could go on, but all in all, I think I’ve explained why the Bat Credit Card doesn’t work, and why Batman and Robin as a whole doesn’t work when you put it in the context of the previous movies.

(2018 edit: Oh, yes. I’m aware that Linkara gave his explanation as to why it makes sense, but I’m not sure I buy into it. So my point still stands).

Agree? Disagree? Have any further insights? Feel free to leave your comments.


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