Batman and Robin are back in action to take down their fiendish foes once again. Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman collaborate in a nefarious plot that endangers Gotham City and it’s up to the Caped Crusaders to thwart and defeat them!
The original Batman is coming back to the cinema, but for one day only. If that sentence gets a lot of people excited at the prospect of seeing Michael Keaton back in the cowl on the big screen, then they’re too young, but still not that young at all. No, we’re talking the 60’s Batman, the “Nana nana nana nana BATMAN!”. The Holy Reincarnation! Batman. This Batman.
The 1966-68 tv series, which ran for 120 episodes, has so embedded itself in pop culture that even those only old enough to know Christian Bale, or even Ben Affleck, as the Bat are likely to have least heard that theme tune, or one of Robin’s OTT exclamations. True, Adam West wasn’t the original Batman – there had been plenty of radio, tv and Saturday serial incarnations before – but he’s widely credited as such. And now, at the sprightly age of 88 (Burt Ward – Robin – is a youthful 71) he’s back, albeit in animated form, in Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. And it is nothing other than pure joy.
DC’s superhero animation has always been superior to its recent forays into the Marvel dominated live action market, but Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is in another league entirely. Retaining the look, feel, speech cadences and 1960’s aesthetic whilst giving everything a hint of modernity – witness the tongue-in-cheek suggestion by Aunt Harriett that Master Bruce and young charge Dick Grayson may, shock!, be gay – this spry, 88-minute caper sends our heroes into space, gives us multiple, evil Batmans and enough winks to the camera to make the older viewer smile wryly, whilst still entertaining youngsters who may ask why these crime-fighters really are wearing their pants over some tights.
In those 120 episodes, every single Bat-villain appeared but here the sensible choices have been made in putting Riddler, Penguin and Joker, together with Catwoman, together to concoct a diabolical plot to take over Gotham City and bring down Batman and Robin. That’s smart, and even if their voices don’t quite ring true (Frank Gorshin, Burgess Meredith and Cesar Romero are all long gone, sadly), it’s still wonderful to see them back. The animated form suits this series perfectly – the original couldn’t have been more cartoon-camp if it had tried – and care has been taken to honour the shooting style of the original, with Dutch angles aplenty.
For such an effort – designed for the OnDemand, download, iTunes market – to garner a cinema release is almost unheard of. Ok, it’s for one day only, but still. Holy Big Screen Batman! It’s good to have you back.
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is now available to buy and download from all good retailers.