Batmania Part 1: ‘Batman: the Movie’

Those who know me well know that I am a huge Batman fan. I don’t read the comics (although I did as a kid), but I always look forward to the Batman films. Tim Burton’s Batman was the movie that changed my life. Batman Forever was the first film to truly disappoint me, and Batman Begins has become one of all all-time favorite films, and my favorite super hero film (with The Incredibles a very, very close second).

And with the anticipation building for The Dark Knight (in theaters July 18), I thought I’d review all six Batman films, beginning with the first: Batman: the Movie.

Released in the summer of 1966, Batman: the Movie was basically a super-long episode of the television series that premiered between seasons one and two. The series was intentionally campy (or so my father told me), which is baffling to me, because camp forces you to ask, what WERE they thinking? You’re not supposed to wonder what ARE they thinking? But according to my father, the Batman television series struck a chord with audiences until the end of season two when audiences realized that camp is a dish best served later and the show was canceled.

Batman 1966

What’s it about? Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) must thwart the combined forces of the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith) and the Joker (Cesar Romero), who plan to dehydrate the most powerful leaders of the world. That’s right. Dehydrate them. Batman shows a shark who’s boss, sings the praises of a martyred dolphin, holds on to a bomb with the world’s longest fuse, vaporizes a bunch of goons, and…ah, who cares.

What’s good about it? Bright colors. Oh, and Lee Meriwether is hot.

What’s bad about it? Plenty–from the shoddy-looking costumes (Batman’s costume looks home made) to Cesar Romero’s visible mustache underneath his Joker makeup, to the drawn-out action sequences to the cornball one-liners, Batman: the Movie is so bad it’s bad. And boring. But oddly enough, there’s an earnestness to it all. It’s as if everyone involved with the making of it collectively said, “yes, we know it’s awful, and yes, we know you’ll hate it, but we’re going to have fun making it. Please be as nice as you can when you write your review forty-two years later.” And while I didn’t really enjoy this film, I have to admit that it is NOT the worst of the Batman films.

Perfect for: children, although chances are they can’t/won’t sit still through it.

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2 Responses to “Batmania Part 1: ‘Batman: the Movie’”

  1. jason Says:

    thats a wonderful idea, i am also waiting for his upcoming release.

  2. Michael Bailey Says:

    I love this movie. The scene when he’s running around with the bomb, looking for a place to throw it, is classic. How could one not love a movie with the line, “Hand me the shark-repellent.”

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