Batman has been part of our popular culture since his introduction to the public in the late 1930’s. Every generation, in its own way, has reinterpreted the Batman story to fit their era.
In 1966 Batman: The Movie was released. A spinoff of the television series, it is another fight against those would happily destroy the world as it exists. Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) must find a way to stop the United Underworld from holding humanity ransom via humans that have been turned into crystals.
Like the television show, it’s out there, to say the least. It is colorful, over the top and much lighter than the more recent adaptations of the Batman story. However, given the period, this film fits right in and has a sense of humor that later adaptations do not.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of art is re-interpretation.
Batman entered our cultural consciousness in 1939. In 1966, he finally was transferred from the pages of the comic books to the small screen. Lasting two years, the show starred the late Adam West as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Burt Ward as Dick Grayson/Robin.
I think the best way to view this adaptation of Batman is through the lenses of the 1960’s. While the more recent Batman films have recreated the world of the Dark Knight as dark and uneasy, there is a lightness and an a campiness to the television series that reflects the era that it was created in.
For those coming of age in the late 1960’s, their Batman was Adam West. West died today at the age of 88.
Airing from 1966 to 1968, it was emblematic of the era. Compared to the darker and grittier film adaptations of comic book super heroes over the last twenty years or so, the 1960’s television series looks to be kind of silly and colorful. But it is also whimsical and fun and represents an era when America and the world appeared to be a simpler place, but was actually on the brink of a cultural shift that is still being felt today.
RIP Adam West. While other actors have worn Batman’s suit since 1968, you will forever be remembered as television’s original caped crusader.