The Avengers was awesome. But now it’s time to make way for the truly most anticipated movie of the year. The Dark Knight Rises will be the last time Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan take on the Bat, and afterword we will all have to ask ourselves this question: is there anything left to live for?
But let us not think upon those dark days ahead. Instead let’s celebrate the history of Batman on the big screen. There are only eight weeks until DKR is unleashed upon the world, and (conveniently) eight Batman movies to watch:
Batman: the movie
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman and Robin
The Dark Knight
Each week I will feature one of these films, exploring the fun, the flaws, and the fantastic. Let’s get started, shall we? Ok!
BATMAN: the Movie (1966)
One of the amazing things about the strength of the character Batman is how well he holds up even with radically diverse interpretations. Over the decades the caped crusader has been portrayed as a driven detective, and old man, a vampire, and outerspace traveling adventurer, a near psycho, and a defender of the catholic church just to name a few. But they all stay true to the core of who Bruce Wayne is and show us a different side of him.
This movie, as well as the TV series it was based on, is actually a pretty faithful version of what Batman comics were like in the 1960s, though the movie is clearly going for laughs and satire. And as a spoof on superhero hyperbole, this movie shines.
I remember as a kid I hated the Adam West Batman. MY Batman was the much more serious Tim Burton version and the moody Animated Series. I thought they were making fun of my favorite heroes. Now I think it’s just as special and valid as any of the Bat films. The silly wit is unrelentingly ridiculous. These writers knew what they were doing, and there has never been a show or movie quite like it.
Everything is over the top, from the set pieces to the performances. Adam West may be the most underrated comedian of all time. I love Frank Gorshin as the Riddler and this may be the definitive take on the character, comics or otherwise. It’s rare for Riddler to outshine Joker, but it definitely happens here. Maybe if Cesor Romero would have shaved off his joker-stache…
Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) is great as well. One of my favorite scenes is when they’re in the submarine and she is meowing away for no reason. One of the pirate goons slowly looks at her with an expression that says, “What the hell is wrong with this lady?”
But, as far as best scenes go, the award has to be given to the bomb bit.
I will say that during my most recent viewing, I did get bored halfway through. I counted at least three full sequences of Bruce and Dick running into their study, hitting the secret button in the bust to open the secret bookcase door, sliding down the bat poles and flipping the instant costume change lever. Did we really need to see that whole process multiple times?
But besides a few of those 1960s’ cinema aesthetics, Batman: the movie holds up very well. The tv show was a huge hit and a new word hit the streets: Batmania. It wouldn’t be until 1989 that phase 2 of Batmania would explode.
Explode like a bomb that’s hard to get rid of.