Thursday, November 9, 2017

Return of the Return of the Caped Crusaders

I am embarrassingly far behind on superhero reviews, but this one can’t wait any longer.

Because its Adam West’s final appearance as Batman!

It’s the same voice cast, the same production team, and the same unbridled enthusiasm for the greatness of the 1966 Batman universe as last year’s Return of the Caped Crusaders.

The few available returning members of the series shone once more.

Adam West and Burt Ward have been recognized as the only actors to return to working together in the same roles fifty years later.

And, Gosh Yes! Burt Ward continues to sound as if none of those fifty years have occurred.

Julie Newmar still has more sex appeal in her voice than many modern performers have in their entire being.

Lee Meriwether playing Lucilee Diamond was a role that payed tribute to her importance to the franchise, without diminishing Newmar’s status as the purrrfect Catwoman.

Adam West was, and shall ever be, Batman.  The dialog went a little further over the top than even the series did, but thanks to his delivery, it always came off as sincere and believable.
As fantastic as Kevin Conroy’s voice work was and is, and as definitive as his Batman voice will likely remain, I often read comics in Adam West’s voice.  That includes the darkest and grittiest versions of the character.  I'm convinced he should have been cast for the Dark Knight Returns film.  His work when “evilized” in last year’s home release proved he could have pulled it off.

The costars and villains were voiced by the same crowd from the previous go around as well, and their joy in being involved in this project can be heard. 
Having Hugo Strange show up was pretty cool for this long time Bat-Geek, since he’s been around in the comics since 1940 (Detective Comics number 36, only ten issues after Batman premiered)

King Tut got a little extra time and Wally Wingert did an equally good job of recreating the Victor Buono character as he’s been doing for Frank Gorshin’s take on the Riddler.  (Jeff Bergman did a nice Roddy McDowall for Bookworm as well.)  Tut fit in well with the “two personalities” theme of the story, and they did a few gags I always wondered about with him watching the show.

The key part of that “two personalities” idea, as well as the main villain was William Shatner as Harvey Dent/ Two Face.

The animation captures Shatner’s appearance from the Star Trek days better than that animated series did, and better than any recent action figure release has as well.

Having experience playing the good and evil versions of Captain Kirk in a multitude of ways, the man provided a quality performance to both the straight and narrow Harvey, and the over the top hammy evil of Two Face.

The film left it wide open for all four Bat-alumnae, and their guest villain and fellow Sixties television star to return in follow up stories.

Sadly, that is not to be with the passing of Adam West.

The extra features on the disc have a couple of nice interviews with Burt Ward and a short, but awesome conversation with Julie Newmar.  Much of Ward’s interview is a tribute to West, and the entire film is dedicated to him. That may explain the “Easter Egg” scene hidden in the special features menu. it probably would have been a post credits scene if the credits didn't end with the dedication.  Finally there was the entire Comic Con tribute to Adam West as a bonus, making the extra features about as long as the movie itself.

Given other circumstances, it would have been nice to hear a little from William Shatner about his stepping into a new piece  of television history from the era he’s strongly connected to.  However, the focus was, as it should have been, Adam West.

West’s  quote that was used in the DC comic book tribute said it best.

“I never had to say, ‘I’m Batman.’  I showed up. People knew I was Batman.”

His career did hit some really rough spots. (e.g. Buying his own ticket to Comic  Con to campaign to be in the ’89 Batman film.)  But like all heroes, he rebounded, and eventually did receive the praise and attention he deserved.

While he always played the Batman material straight and serious, he also taught us the most important life lesson any hero can… it’s OK to laugh at yourself.

For those who still claim he didn’t portray the “real” Batman- millions of us, including the city of Los Angeles beg to differ.

No comments: