Batman 1966 Review: Holy Feature Length Movie, Batman!

Forget everything that you thought you knew about Batman. BATMAN (1966) is like no other. If you’ve never seen the amazing Adam West put on the famous cowl, then you are in for quite a treat.

If you’ve read my previous review on the 1944 BATMAN film, which can be found here, then you’ll known that it isn’t uncommon for Hollywood to portray a more lighthearted and family friendly Batman. Though, today, the Dark Knight is in his typical dark and serious tone, the early days for on- screen Batman were much different. This film shows Batman the way that a parent would want their young child to see him. There are bright colors, over the top acting, and the most uncharacteristic amount of comedy you will ever see. Trust me, though, when I say that each second of this film is as delightful as the last. 

To give a little back story, this BATMAN film is a spin of a highly successful television show, premiering in January of 1966. The show starred Adam West as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Burt Ward as Robin/Dick Grayson, as well of an amazing ensemble cast of friends and villains for the duo. Over it’s two year run, this show accumulated 120 episodes, each more outrageous than the last. 

Originally, when the show was beginning its production, the film was written as a way for this new version of the character to be introduced to audiences. However, as production of the TV show was rushed, the creative team behind the show knew that the film would have to wait. Finally, once filming of the first season was complete and accepted by audiences with open arms, the team was finally able to start work on this movie. 

Now, if you’re a fan of the series, you will adore this movie. It has action, it has heart, and most of all, it knows not to try and take a serious tone, but instead to embrace its campy spirit. Not only does it feel like a feature length version of an episode of the show, but it also sees all four of Batman’s major villains, the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler and Catwoman, coming together to try and defeated the Caped Crusader as a team. 

Calling themselves the United Underworld, this ragtag group of super villains somehow finds a way to pack a punch. After the Penguin gets his hands on a submarine and a seemingly endless amount of missiles, the United Underworld sets out to kidnap Commodore Schmidlapp, a man who is entrusted with delivering the “dehydrator.” With this machine, these villains will be capable of turning humans into dust, which they intend to use on the members of the United Nations Security Council. 

Now, don’t forget, no matter how normal that may sound, this is the 1966 Batman we’re talking about. It’s gonna get weird. 

I wish that I could sit here and tell you all of the completely unbelievable things they do in this movie, but if I tried, I would find myself writing an entire book. I will, however, give you some of the highlights: 

  • At the very beginning, when Batman and Robin are attempting to rescue Commodore Schmidlapp from a yacht, Batman is attacked by a shark, which bites on to his leg. Robin hands him the always useful Shark Repelant that they have stored in the Batcopter, and I kid you not, after Batman sprays the shark, it falls into the water and explodes. EXPLODES
  • For several minutes, Batman attempts to dispose of a bomb that the Penguin left in the Batcave. Each time he finds a place that he believes would be safe, he finds himself in front of comical examples of civilians, such as a marching band, a group of nuns, and a mother pushing a baby in a stroller. So, the result is Batman frantically running around Gotham, in this exact pose. 
  • At one point during the movie, Batman and Robin are stranded on a buoy. The United Underworld decides to shoot three different missiles at them, which they destroy two of, using a radio detonator. Right before the third missile is supposed to hit, the Dynamic Duo is saved, because a DOLPHIN SWIMS IN FRONT OF THE MISSILE AND EXPLODES. Yep, another classic animal death. 

Even through all of its silliness, the light of this film shines through. As I watched it, I found myself having a time that can only be described as joyous. That’s what makes this version of Batman so enjoyable to watch; it creates a superhero viewing experience like no other. Though you have characters that are known for being humorous or heartwarming, there’s no other way to see the World’s Greatest Detective somehow finding the light side of life. Overall, this movie delivers exactly what you imagine it would. If you don’t enjoy the 1960’s television show, then pop that Blu-Ray version of the Dark Knight in your DVD player and go to town, but if you enjoy seeing one of the bravest and the boldest comic book characters in an uncharacteristic, but loveable light, then I would highly suggest this film.

Written by William Staton, Retro Movie Reviewer -- Click here to read William's posts

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