Tuesday, June 13, 2017

...and Batman

Batman is often seen as the darkest of DCs heroes (By people who don't know about the Punisher).

But there was an antidote. From 1966-1968, Adam West starred as Batman in a TV show that was lighthearted, fun, and embraced its comics-driven goofiness. With Burt Ward as Robin, the show went as far as to add visual sound effects. It also gave us Eartha Kitt as Catwoman (Julie Newmar did more episodes, but Kitt is the one people tend to remember).

The show was flamboyant and very much part of the sixties - although I'd argue that the current Flash TV show catches much of its spirit. Oh, and of all the actors that have played Batman, only West is the correct height per the "vital statistics" DC provides for the character - 6'2.

West and Ward returned in The New Adventures of Batman for a single season in 1977, but the magic was apparently gone - times had changed. But he didn't entirely give up on being Batman - he reprised the role in Legends of the Superheroes (1979) and as a voice actor in Superfriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show (1984), The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (1985), Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016) and the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special 3: Magical Friendship. And he played the Mayor in The Batman, voiced the Grey Ghost in Batman: The Animated Series and voiced both Thomas Wayne and Proto-Bot in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. His last "appearance" as Batman? It will be released later this year, an animated direct to video Batman vs. Two-Face movie, perhaps closing the circle. (Burt Ward also returns as Robin, Julie Newmar as Catwoman, and William Shatner will be voicing Harvey Dent).

And he also appeared in some other superhero shows - Powerless, Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero, The Super Hero Squad Show, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, the 1990s Flash series, and the short lived vigilante show Black Scorpion, in which he played a villain. One starts to get the feeling he liked being in superhero shows - but his extensive filmography also includes Family Guy, FanAddicts!, The Fairly OddParents, The Secret Files of the SpyDogs, Danger Theatre, The Last Precinct, The Detectives and a wide variety of random appearances in all kinds of things.

In other words, he was a versatile actor, but he was always Batman - to the point where he became a character himself - he played himself in Space Ghost Coast To Coast, Hope & Gloria, Murphy Brown, The King of Queens, etc. People tend not to think of Adam West as a real person.

Which might explain why even some non-fan blogs I follow have stopped to mourn.