BATMANIA!: LET’S BATUSI WITH BATMAN: THE MOVIE (1966)
Since the 80’s Batman has been…gritty. He’s been dark. Thanks to the likes of Alan Moore and Frank Miller, Batman became this frightening arbiter of justice who stalks the criminals of Gotham City and crushes them to a pulp, but…he wasn’t always like that. In fact, Batman used to have fun. Lots of it. For one thing, he loved to dance.
In the late 50’s/early 60’s, Batman comics, as well as all other comics were under the strict watch of a censor board, and each issue was sent to them for approval, so instead of a vigilante crime fighter, Batman became more of a deputized arm of the Police, fighting the wild and crazy (but never really dangerous) plots of all his super villains This was the Batman that William Dozier brought to the TV screens in 1966 to smashing success. The success was so great, the studio producing it (Fox) wanted a movie made, and so, using the same crew as the TV show, the shot a movie that was released between Season One and Season Two of the show. Batman: The Movie was a success, and eventually paved the way for two more seasons of the show.
Most people remember the show for it’s color, and it’s camp, which really is why the show works. It’s not a serious take on the characters, but it’s a fun take. It’s often thrilling to watch Batman thwart his villains, even if their plans are rather stupid. I think it’s interesting how this show and movie have colored every Batman thing that has come since. The Burton films avoided it like the plague (except Batdance by Prince, which embraces the theme song), The Schumacher films welcome the visual influence, as well as the humor, and Christopher Nolan has sprinkled references throughout his films to more subtle things from the series. Even the recent Batman show The Brave and the Bold went with the similar tone (which was a great choice, especially when they brought Bat-Mite in for the last season)
What I am saying is that Batman is indebted to the series for making his name something more than just a comic book hero. The series made him a household name to more than just nerds and geeks, and paved the way for all of the Batman films we’ve talked about in this last week. To be honest, I can’t find much to talk about in terms of depth. The film wears it’s intentions on it’s sleeve. It was meant to entertain and to sell more television. It certainly entertains.
You have hilarious and fun performances from almost everyone involved, especially Adam West, who treats the campy dialog with pure reverence, while those playing the villains (Frank Gorshin, Ceasar Romero, Lee Merriweather, and Burgess Meredith) eat the candy colored scenery with aplomb, and despite their absolutely stupid plans (dehydrating the United Nations into Dust to hold them ransom) make you laugh and smile. I remember as a kid watching the film just waiting for them to go back to the bad guys because they were far more interesting. I suppose I’m still like that.
And of course, the defining moment of the film? Bat Bomb Disposal Action.
Batman may have grown up since the 60’s, but I will always have a place in my heart for the BAM BIFF POW ZAPPO crimefighter that I grew up loving.
Posted on July 17, 2012, in Batmania, Discussion, Events and tagged 1966, Adam West, Batman, Burgess Meredith, Ceasar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Influence, Lee Meriweather, Televison Series, The Movie. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.