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Wayback Wednesday: Batman: The Movie (1966)

Holy camp masterpiece, Batman!

Growing up, my brother and I were obsessed with every incarnation of Batman you could imagine. From the dark and gothic aesthetic of the Tim Burton movies, to the colourful and bizarre vibes of the Joel Schumacher sequels, I don’t think there was a portrayal of the Caped Crusader that my family and I missed out on. We watched reruns of Batman: The Animated Series (1992 – 1995), greatly enjoyed The Batman series (2004 – 2008) and went to theatres to see each instalment in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy (2005 – 2012). From time to time we even watched Batman: The Movie (1966) though my brother and I had no context at all for the zaniness. While I may have dismissed it as a child, adult Luke is here to proclaim his deep appreciation and admiration for this camp classic.

Credit: / 20th Century Fox

A continuation of the series Batman (1966 – 1968), Batman: The Movie follows the titular hero and his sidekick Robin as they work to foil the villainous plan of The Penguin, The Riddler, The Joker and Catwoman who have joined together to take over the world.

After doing a little digging, I can confirm that Batman: The Movie was one of the first ever TV shows adapted into a movie! In a world where pretty much everything and anything is adapted into a movie these days (is the movie based on Play-Doh still happening?) it’s amazing to watch what was one of the first intellectual properties to do so. And quite successfully, I might add. Having now seen a few episodes of the original series, I can honestly say that Batman: The Movie is the perfect cinematic adaptation. It flawlessly captures the tone and style of the series and translates every wonderfully wacky, campy moment to the big-screen brilliantly. By the way, if anyone tries to tell you that this movie is bad or stupid, those dummies clearly don’t understand the delightful dorkiness of this camp classic. It’s the perfect amount of sheer ridiculousness. It had been a long time since I’d seen this movie and I could not believe how much it had me cracking up! Probably because I’m older and now and have a deep appreciation for all things camp, but I had so much damn fun watching this movie. Regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of Batman, I encourage everyone to check this movie out because I guarantee there’s no way you won’t fall into a fit of giggles. “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”

From the groovy costumes, to the retro batmobile, to the illogical lines and their overzealous delivery, everything about Batman: The Movie is iconic. Seriously though, don’t start picking at the logic of this movie or the whole thing will unravel. Let’s just say that subtlety is not this movie’s strong point. I mean, there are pussy willows on the door to Catwoman’s room…yep. And it killed me! That’s the unbridled joy of Batman: The Movie. It’s so unapologetically silly and doesn’t give a fuck in the best way possible. Especially when it comes to the performances.

Every actor fully understands the tone of this movie and delivers appropriately hammy performances. The level of commitment to the overall joke that is Batman: The Movie is held from beginning to end, fully realized by a cast that is seriously down to clown. I mean, Alan Napier who plays loyal butler Alfred declares with utter conviction, “bless my dustpan!” When I tell you I lost my damn mind…as if I hadn’t already lost it seeing the horrible failure of covering Cesar Romero’s moustache underneath his Joker makeup. I challenge you to focus on anything else while watching. Of course, the undisputed stars of Batman: The Movie are Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin, respectively. Especially West. It’s always Christian Bale this and Michael Keaton that and while those actors are amazing as Batman, I don’t think the OG Adam West gets enough credit for his iconic campy portrayal of the Dark Knight. The man’s name is synonymous with Batman! Say what you will about West’s turn as Batman, I could watch him decipher nonsensical riddles, list off bat-products and proclaim a very one-sided love for Catwoman all day. LEGENDARY.

I had so much dang fun watching this movie and the only thing that could have possibly made it even more fun is if I had a cocktail. Not to help me get through it, but to enhance the fever dream-like hilarity of Batman: The Movie. I think what I love most about this movie is that it’s a refreshing reminder that there was a time before we took superheroes, their movies and the genre as a whole, so damn seriously. THERE WAS AN EXPLODING SHARK HANGING ON TO BATMAN’S LEG FOR GOSH SAKES! That he removed only with the help of SHARK REPELLENT BAT SPRAY! I was laughing my ass off! If you’re feeling like superhero movies are getting too stale and predictable these days, go ahead and watch Batman: The Movie. You’ll have no idea what kind of ridiculousness or hilarity lies in store for you! Just remember to watch it on your bat-TV with your bat-snacks and with your bat-friends!

Have you seen Batman: The Movie?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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