In 1995, to coincide with the theatrical release of Batman Forever, Warner Books published a tie-in novel, called Batman Forever the Novelisation. The book – written by Peter David – was based on the Batman Forever screenplay by Lee Batchler, Janet Scott Batchler and Akiva Goldsman and offered a printed take on the movie.
Spread across 30 chapters, Batman Forever the Novelisation, told the story of the film, covering all of the key plot points that appeared on screen. However, this interpretation of the material included additional scenes and details not covered in the theatrical release of the film, providing readers with an alternative experience.
In this post I am taking a look at the novel, to highlight the similarities and differences that occur. With any novelisation there are differences to what appears on screen, but with Batman Forever there are a number of changes between the book and the film, and some of these really enhance the story.
To get the most out of this post it would be useful if you are familiar with the theatrical release of Batman Forever. If you have never seen the movie, I recommend giving it a watch before continuing.
Batman Forever: The prologues
The novelisation of Batman Forever opens with three prologues, all designed to introduce key characters into the story. All three prologues are set in the past, and in the case of Prologue I. and Prologue II., the events take place decades before the events of Batman Forever.
Prologue I. focuses on Bruce Wayne, and is set shortly after the death of his parents. This short chapter features a nod to Jack Napier (aka the Joker), mentions the journal of Thomas Wayne (something which will become very important), and sees Bruce discover caves under Wayne Manor.
Prologue II. centres upon Edward Nygma (aka the Riddler). This chapter is set around the same time period as Prologue I., with Edward being a similar age to Bruce.
This chapter fills in a few details about Edward’s youth, highlighting his intellect in particular. It also pinpoints the beginning of Edward’s obsession with Bruce Wayne, who he believes is a kindred spirit.
Prologue III. is set shortly after the events of Batman Returns (1992). The chapter makes reference to the Penguin and the Red Triangle Gang.
This chapter establishes a relationship between Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne, and a relationship between Harvey Dent and Batman. In both cases, Bruce and Batman see Harvey as an asset to Gotham and want him to be the city’s saviour – it’s champion District Attorney.
What is perhaps most interesting about this prologue is the way in which both Bruce and Batman want Harvey to become an important figure in the city. Bruce offers financial aid and Batman offers protection, so that Harvey has no real reason to refuse.
This prologue also establishes that Harvey has a fiancée and is thinking of starting a family, meaning he is putting a lot on the line to help fight crime in Gotham City. It creates strong foundations for the Bruce/Batman/Harvey relationship, and makes it clear why Harvey will feel betrayed much later down the line.
Here is how the prologues shape up when compared to the movie:
- Elements of Prologue I. are included in the theatrical release of Batman Forever, but they not presented in the same way.
- Nothing from Prologue II. is included in the movie.
- Nothing from Prologue III. is included in the movie – and this is a real shame. In just four-and-a-half pages, Harvey Dent’s character is given more depth in this prologue than he receives across the course of a two-hour film.
What the prologues make very clear is that this novelisation isn’t afraid to include supplementary material. And in most cases, this supplementary material is very good.
These three prologues add a little more meat to the bone, and create a strong starting point for the rest of the story. The first time I read this novelisation, I knew this was going to be worth reading.
OK, so those are the prologues, now onto the main chapters. The remainder of the book is divided into 27 chapters, and I will discuss each one in turn.
Batman Forever: The chapters
As I work my way through the pages of this novelisation, I will highlight/summarise the notable differences between the novel and the movie. If there are no major differences, I will keep my discussion brief.
The opening chapter brings the timeline back up to present day and introduces two key characters: Dr. Chase Meridian and Richard ‘Dick’ Grayson. The two characters cross paths when Dr. Meridian becomes the victim of a mugging and Dick steps in to help.
None of the content from this chapter appears in the theatrical release of Batman Forever and in all honesty it isn’t a huge issue that it is missing. But the material does work well in the novel, and it establishes the idea that Dick is a hero who rushes in to save the day, because it is the right thing to do.
Onto Chapter 2, and this chapter sees Harvey ‘Two-Face’ Dent enlist the aid of a guard to help him escape from Arkham Asylum. His breakout is then discovered by Dr. Burton – the Chief Psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum.
Once again, none of this material is in the movie. In the theatrical version of Batman Forever, Two-Face had already escaped Arkham at the beginning of the film.
BUT – and this is a big but – this chapter WAS filmed. In director Joel Schumacher’s initial cut of Batman Forever, the film opened with Dent escaping Arkham Asylum. It was removed from the picture before its release.
This third chapter goes into a bit more detail about the origin of Two-Face. Some of the material in this chapter does appear in the movie, but at a slightly later point in the story.
What’s important to note here, is that the novel is now covering material from the film (hurrah), but in a slightly different order. And the reason for this is due to the removal of the Two-Face breakout scene that I mentioned above.
When the breakout scene was removed from the movie, a few of the scenes had to be rejigged so that the film made sense. As such, this chapter and the next few chapters appear in a slightly different order to how they appear on film.
I should also note, this chapter is great for fans of the Batman mythology. Not only does it cover Two-Face’s origin, there is also a mention for Penguin, Catwoman, LexCorp, Lucius Fox and Poison Ivy!
Chapter 4 focuses on the first interaction between Bruce Wayne and Edward Nygma, with Nygma pitching his Box technology at Wayne Enterprises. This chapter plays out pretty much as it does onscreen, only with a little more emphasis on Nygma’s obsession with Wayne.
This chapter ends with Bruce seeing the Batsignal and using a secret tunnel in his office to return to the Batcave.
In the film, Bruce then suits up for a brief (and pointless) rooftop encounter with Dr. Chase Meridian. Here, Bruce suits up for his first major encounter with Two-Face.
This chapter sees Batman meet Dr. Meridian for the first time, before taking on Two-Face, who is stealing money from the 2nd National Bank. The chapter ends with a fight on a helicopter, followed by the destruction of Lady Gotham – a landmark not-too dissimilar to the Statue of Liberty.
Fans of Batman Forever will know the events of this chapter form the opening act of the movie. However, there is something included here that was cut from the film – and it is very important.
Aboard the helicopter, Two-Face says to Batman:
“Batman doesn’t kill? What’s that homicidal glean in your eyes. That lethal curl of your lip? Oh, too good to be true. A Bat with a taste for blood. We’re just the same.”
He then goes on to say: “You’re a killer too.”
This is an important piece of dialogue, as it addresses something from Batman ‘89 & Batman Returns – namely the fact that in those films Batman kills a few of the bad guys. Two-Face’s comments highlight Batman’s violent approach to crime-fighting, to make it clear his aggressive and brutal tendencies are not being overlooked.
I also want to note that so far, this novel is doing a good job of developing Two-Face as a character. The movie struggled to make Two-Face feel fully formed, but here he comes across as a three-dimensional villain.
Not much to discuss here. Chapter 6 sees Edward Nygma kill his boss, Fred Stickley. The chapter reads very much the way it plays out on screen.
Chapter 7 includes the follow up to Stickley’s death, similar to the way it is presented in the movie. However, this chapter includes another reference to what Two-Face said about Batman being a killer.
At this point in the story, Bruce/Batman is being haunted by what Two-Face said, while also experiencing a vision from his childhood. This vision links back to the events described in Prologue I.
Chapter 8 details Bruce Wayne’s first meeting with Dr. Meridian and is pretty much as it appears in the film.
This chapter is set at the circus and covers the murder of the Flying Graysons. With the exception of a little bit of extra description, the events are the same as in the film, with one major exception – Bruce Wayne nearly shoots Two-Face.
Yep, you read that correctly. There is a moment, just before the Graysons die, where Bruce has a gun in his hand and it is aimed at Two-Face.
Here’s a little excerpt from the end of the chapter:
‘He has sworn not to use guns. A gun was what had cut down his parents, and the very concept of wielding such a weapon was anathema to him. He hurled himself into the midst of the criminal element in order to combat it, and he was fearful of staring too closely into the abyss, lest it stare back at him. To use a gun, to shoot at people, was to draw it dangerously close to becoming that which he opposed.
‘Yet there he had been, holding the machine pistol in his hands, finger curled around the trigger. A quick squeeze and Two-Face would have been dead. And… perhaps… the Graysons would be alive. It was hard to be certain, for everything had happened so quickly. Perhaps, and then again, perhaps not.’
This brief moment where Bruce contemplates using a gun does not feature in the theatrical cut of Batman Forever, and once again, this is a shame. This is solid material and ties into the ongoing themes of fear and doubt that crop up throughout this story.
In Chapter 10, Bruce invites Dick Grayson to live at Wayne Manor. Nothing particularly different here.
The first half of this chapter covers a rooftop rendezvous between Batman and Dr. Chase Meridian. In the film, this scene appears much earlier in the story.
Two-Face and Riddler meet for the first time. This scene is more or less the same as what is depicted in the film.
After joining forces, Two-Face and Riddler go on a crime spree, leading to a couple of differences between the book and the film.
In the movie, Two-Face teaches Riddler how to throw a punch. The same situation is present in this chapter of the novel, but there is a little more violence, with the Riddler beating a guard with his cane.
The second major difference is that Riddler has managed to tap into a communication frequency on the Batmobile, which he believes Commissioner Gordon uses to talk to Batman. He refers to this device as the ‘Batphone.’
Hacking into the Batmobile, the Riddler sends Batman on a wild goose chase, to take him far away from the Two-Face/Riddler crime spree. This scene was filmed, but was not included in the theatrical release of Batman Forever.
This chapter includes almost entirely new material, and involves a discussion between Bruce Wayne and an associate at Wayne Enterprises. The pair are discussing the sudden emergence of Edward Nygma’s company, Nygmatech.
None of this material is particularly essential, but it does help flesh out the story a little more. Perhaps the most important element of this chapter, is a reference to the journal which continues to haunt Bruce’s dreams.
A short chapter now, in which Bruce and Alfred Pennyworth discuss the significance of the Riddler’s ‘riddles’. Almost all of this chapter is included in the film, however, there is a brief reference to Batman’s Sonar Batsuit, which does not get referenced at this point in the film.
This is the second time in the book that the suit has been mentioned, foreshadowing its use during the finale.
While Bruce is on a date with Dr. Meridian, Dick discovers the entrance to the Batcave. Most of this chapter is the same as what is seen on screen, however, the entrance to the Batcave is located behind a grandfather clock, rather than behind false wall in the silver closet.
Dick Grayson rescues a girl from a gang of thugs, then is rescued himself by Batman. This chapter is more or less what the movie portrays.
Bruce, Dick and Dr. Meridian attend a party being hosted by Edward Nygma. This is all covered in the movie.
Dick saves Batman from being buried alive by Two-Face, and then Bruce and Dick get into an argument. For the most part, this chapter sticks closely to the film, but there are a couple of noticeable additions.
First is a scene in which Bruce questions the reason why he is still Batman. This sequence also includes some soundbites from a TV host who discusses the destruction caused by the Dark Knight.
This material was originally intended to be included in Batman Forever and was filmed, but it was cut from the theatrical release.
The second addition is a scene featuring Commissioner Gordon, Detective Harvey Bullock (a character who never appeared in the Batman Anthology) and one of Two-Face’s goons. In the scene, Gordon and Bullock are trying to convince the goon to provide information about Two-Face and the Riddler.
Before the man can reveal any details about his employers, he suffers what appears to be an aneurysm and dies. It is then revealed to the reader, the Riddler used his Box technology to terminate the goon from afar.
As noted earlier, the Riddler in this novelisation is even deadlier than the one who is depicted in the movie. He still feels like the Jim Carrey Riddler, but he appears to be darker.
In Chapter 20, Batman visits Dr. Chase Meridian for a late night conversation about their ‘relationship’.
In the film, Dr. Meridian makes it clear to Batman that she is interested in someone else (i.e. Bruce Wayne). In the novel, the scene begins in a similar way, but once Batman has left Dr. Meridian’s apartment, things change.
It is revealed that Dr. Meridian knows Batman’s secret identity, and in a double twist, it is also revealed that Batman is fully aware of this discovery. So in essence, she knows, and he knows, that she knows! Know what I mean?
Personally, I really like this idea as a.) it stands to reason that Dr. Meridian would uncover the truth about Bruce Wayne/Batman – she is a psychologist after all; and b.) if she knows Batman’s secret identity, then it is only right that Batman is fully aware of the situation.
Chapter 21 focuses on a conversation between the Riddler and Two-Face. Two-Face is about to break up the partnership (i.e. kill the Riddler), when the Riddler reveals that he has discovered Batman’s secret identity.
Everything in this chapter plays out as it does in the movie.
Bruce talks to Chase about the visions he has been experiencing, while Two-Face and Riddler storm Wayne Manor and destroy the Batcave. If you are familiar with the film, this chapter largely runs as it does in the movie, but with a few very significant differences.
The first is a revelation that comes as Bruce and Chase discuss Bruce’s visions/repressed memories. It is here that the subject of the journal is discussed.
In the movie, Bruce feels upset over the journal as it belonged to his father. The upset comes from the knowledge that his dad will never write in the book again.
In the novel, the journal represents something far more interesting. Here’s an excerpt to explain:
‘“What does it say?” she asked again.
‘“Oct. 31. The last entry… the night they died. ‘Bruce insists on seeing a movie tonight.’ Bruce insists. I made them go out. I made them take me to a movie. To that theatre. That alley… It was my fault. I killed them… After I read it, I grabbed the book. Ran into the storm. But I couldn’t outrun the pain. I tripped, fell into a sinkhole… Not the bat?”
‘“What? The shift made no sense to her.
‘“I thought it was the bat that scared me that night, that changed my life. But it wasn’t. This is the monster I grew strong and fierce to defeat. The demon I’ve spent my life fighting. My own guilt. The fear that I killed them.”
This is a hugely important piece of dialogue that is NOWHERE to be seen in the film, and it is such a shame. Not only does this exchange begin to explain why the journal features so heavily in the story, it also adds some important psychological depth to Bruce’s journey – he feels tremendous guilt, because he feels directly responsible for their deaths.
From this dialogue I also want to note the date which Bruce mentions, which is October 31st, aka Halloween. Although it is not stated in the novelisation, in the movie the events of Batman Forever take place around Halloween.
The anniversary of the Wayne murders would explain why this is all weighing heavy on Bruce’s mind. When anniversaries come around, we often experience thoughts and feelings connected to that time period, so it stands to reason that Bruce is thinking about his past at this point in time.
The other thing I want to note about this chapter is the way it ends. When Two-Face and Riddler invade Wayne Manor, Two-Face shoots Bruce, grazing his head and knocking him unconscious.
Both the film and novel cover these events more or less in the same way. The difference in the novel is that the incident leaves Bruce with very minor amnesia, which makes him forget he is Batman!
In this chapter, still unsure of who he is, Bruce journeys into an area of the Batcave where he discovers the journal. When he reads it, he discovers that he wasn’t responsible for his parents’ death!
Here’s the all-important excerpt:
‘He turned the pages to the last entry. And there it was, just as he had remembered. “Bruce insists on seeing a movie tonight…”
‘He paused and then noticed that the page was stuck back-to-back with the next one. Moisture had done it. Moisture from the cave? From the tears spilled long ago that he had forgotten about? Carefully he separated the pages and turned them…
‘…and found more writing.
‘”But Martha and I have our hearts set on Zorro, so Bruce’s cartoon will have to wait until next week.”
‘He stared at the book in disbelief. “Not my fault,” he whispered. “It wasn’t my fault.”
After he learns the truth, Bruce has an encounter with a giant bat, which helps to jog his memory. This whole scene is very, very important as it ties up all of the visions/dreams that Bruce has experienced throughout the story.
Sadly, none of this material is included in the theatrical release of the movie. It was filmed, but was ultimately cut from the picture.
If you own the Special Edition DVD or Blu-ray release of Batman Forever, this sequence is included as a deleted scene, so check it out.
Chapter 24 is largely about Alfred and Bruce solving the Riddler’s riddles. The only significant difference to note here is that Detective Bullock gets mentioned once more, taking his appearances in the novel to three.
Batman and Robin invade Claw Island. This is just like the movie.
The final showdown on Claw Island, between Batman, the Riddler and Two-Face. The majority of this chapter is the same as it appears in the movie, but there is one big difference.
In the movie Two-Face dies when he slips off a girder. In the novel, following a brief conversation with Robin, Two-Face kills himself.
THIS IS HUGE. Two-Face kills himself! Robin and Two-Face exchange words; Two-Face flips a coin; then ultimately he takes his own life.
The first time I read this I was so surprised that this was how the character was written out of the story – but it works.
Throughout the novelisation, Two-Face has blamed Batman for all of the misfortune that has come his way, never once taking responsibility for his own actions. But here he makes the decision to terminate his own life.
Sure, he kills himself over the flip of a coin, but he is making the decision to do this – no one else. It’s a surprising, and dark way to end his journey.
Chapter 27 is the final chapter and runs across just two pages. This chapter depicts mostly the same events that appear on screen – Chase visiting Edward Nygma in Arkham Asylum – only it now includes an extra scene between Alfred and Chase.
Here’s what happens:
‘Minutes later, Chase Meridian was the sole passenger in the car, with Alfred at wheel. She stared up at the Bat-Signal, burning against the sky. “Does it ever end, Alfred?”
‘Alfred chuckled softly. “No, Miss. Not in this lifetime.”’
The novel then concludes with Batman and Robin taking to the rooftops of Gotham to be the city’s Dynamic Duo.
Batman Forever: The novelisation vs. the movie
OK, so from everything I have highlighted above it is pretty clear there are some significant differences between the novel and the movie. In most cases, these differences really do alter the feel of the story.
I love Batman Forever; I think it is a hugely entertaining Batman movie. But I do wish it included some of the more meatier content that is featured in the novel.
Batman Forever was written as a psychological tale, which is why so much time is spent on Bruce’s visions/dreams. It is also the reason why Dr. Meridian is a psychologist, and why there are two villains in the story – one who hates Batman and one who hates Bruce Wayne.
A lot of this is conveyed very well in the movie, but some of the depth of the story is either lost in translation or was removed prior to the film’s release. And by removing key elements – including the big revelation about the journal – some of the emotional resolution is missing from the film.
Until such time as Warner Bros. Pictures releases The Schumacher Cut (the extended cut of Batman Forever), the novelisation is, in my opinion, the best version of Batman Forever. That’s not to take anything aware from the movie, it is just to say the novel does an excellent job of delivering a strong Batman story.
If you are a Batman fan, and you have watched Batman Forever but have never read the novelisation, then I recommend you give it a read. The novel is long out of print, but a second-hand copy can usually be found online quite cheap (just take a look on eBay).
Thank you for taking the time to read this post about the novelisation of Batman Forever. I hope you have found this post useful, and it has encouraged you to give the novel a go. At 245 pages, the novel is an easy read, and one that I am sure you will find enjoyable.
For more Batman-related content, be sure to take a look around I’ll Get Drive-Thru. You can also find some more posts in the recommended reads below.