Let’s face it, the most popular DC superhero character (and arguably the most popular in all superhero comics) in this day and age – and maybe several years back – is Batman. Who wouldn’t be taken in by the concept of a non-superhuman but well-trained man in a cowl and high tech gadgets going one-man army on the evildoers of a ridiculously crime-ridden city?
It’s also well known that Batman as fans of the present day knows is a shadowy brooding figure, and an integral part of how contemporary superhero comics tend to come off more as a dark mirror of our world. At least that’s how he’s been stereotyped by dozens of thematically similar films, cartoon series, video games, and direct-to- video animation.
After the recent DTV animated movie that adapted the award-winning but dark “Killing Joke” story from the comics, Warner Brothers Animation has decided to take a step back and dial the dourness all the way to…the 1960’s when the ABC network aired a live-action adaptation of the Batman comics. Here he was not the Dark Knight of the late 20 th Century onwards, but the heroic Caped Crusader who fought alongside his sidekick Robin the Boy Wonder against Gotham City’s kooky criminals in flashy fight scenes punctuated by exploding onomatopoeia word balloons.
Supremely portrayed in all by Adam West and Burt Ward, the “Dynamic Duo” propelled the series to heights of popularity when it aired, and despite some gripes on the perceived corniness is remembered fondly to this day. And that nostalgia for the days of a non-depressing Batman is what WB/DC is tapping into for their latest DTV release, “Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders”.
Comic Book Resources and other websites this week have released new information on the film, after a little teaser last August 17 on Entertainment Weekly. This includes the box art and an extended trailer, in all their hammy goodness. West and Ward reprise their roles as Batman and Robin and, despite signs of aging in the former’s distinctive voice the trailer showcases an effective performance from both. Also returning is Julie Newmar to voice her famous role is the series as the season 1 and 2 Catwoman, though we don’t get to hear her speak (yet).
The synopsis is also a real gasser: We get the “Holy unholy alliance, Batman!” (thank you, Robin) of Gotham’s biggest villains in Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman working together, and they have a fiendish plot that could see our heroes going all the way into outer space to stop them, and that it somehow involves a Replicator Ray.
Good versus evil? Good versus good? How about evil versus evil? I’m already sold, and as I wait for October 11 (digital release) and November 1 (home video release) I hum the old classic opening theme, “Na-na- na-na- na-na- na-na…BATMAAAN!”
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