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.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Every generation has their Batman.
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.
A sequel that is done well is hard to find, especially one with an alternative story line that varies from the original narrative. While there is some freedom in creating the alternative story line, the writer or writers have to be careful. If they stray too far from the original narrative, they might loose the hardcore fans that admire and respect the cannon narrative and characters.
In the short-lived television series, Birds of Prey (2002-2003), the criminals in Gotham City are running loose. With Batman in exile, it seems like there is no one to stop the criminals. Enter three women who can take back Gotham City. Helena Kyle/Huntress (Ashley Scott) is the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. Barbara Gordon/Oracle (Dina Meyer) used to be known as Batgirl, until she was shot by the Joker and paralyzed. While she may sit behind the computer, she still watches over Gotham and her residents. Newcomer Dinah Lance (Rachel Skarsten) has the power of telekinesis and while she may look weak, her abilities outweigh her physical image.
Looking back, this was one of those series that had potential. Unfortunately, it didn’t have enough potential to last longer than it did. The other thing that kept it from lasting was that the audience member had to have been well versed in the Batman universe to truly get into the show.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
There is something immortal about the superhero. No matter what era s/he was created in or the world that they inhabit, these characters continue to live on.
Hollywood has had it’s fill of superhero movies over the years. One of the most popular is Batman, who has returned to big screen again and again.
In 1995, Val Kilmer stepped into the suit in Batman Forever. In this movie, Batman must face not just one villain, but two. Harvey Dent/Two Face (Tommy Lee Jones) is of the belief that Batman was responsible for the accident that changed his face, his revenge is to create chaos and fear in Gotham City. The other villain, Riddler/Edward Nygma (Jim Carrey) works for Bruce Wayne, the man under the mask. When his inventions are rejected, the Riddler will get his revenge by draining the brains of Gotham citizens and learn the secrets of his former boss. Adding to the mix of chaos is Robin/Dick Grayson (Chris O’Donnell), a young man from a circus family whose family has been killed by two face and wants revenge. And there of course, the love interest, Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman).
I happen to think Batman Forever is the best Batman movie. While it is dark enough (as any Batman movie should be), there are pops of color and elements that remain true to it’s comic book origins.
Ten years later, Batman returned to the big screen in a much darker vision in Batman Begins. This time Christian Bale suites up as Gotham City’s protector. After loosing his parents when he was still a young boy, Bruce Wayne travels to Asia to learn from Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) and Ra’s Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe). His goal is to return to Gotham City and fight off the forces of darkness that threaten to consume his city.
This movie and the following sequels are much darker than any of the previous Batman movies. But it is a refreshing take on the story, especially considering that Batman returns to the big screen every 5-10 years to begin with.
I recommend both.