Sunday, November 20, 2016

Looking Back at Batman



This year marks not only the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Batman television series but also the movie which starred the same cast and was released in theaters a couple months after the first season of the TV show.

In celebration of its golden anniversary, an animated movie titled Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders was released with Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman) reprising their roles as the voices of their characters.



The TV series was an obvious parody of Columbia's Batman serial in 1943, borrowing many ideas and implementing them in absurd situations.

The most obvious influence the theatrical serial had on the TV series was the fight scenes involving Batman (Lewis Wilson) and Robin (Douglas Croft) with the various henchmen they went up against. In each chapter of the serial (fifteen in all), there was a long, drawn-out fight that was meant to be taken seriously but was more comical than anything. The only thing missing are the iconic Bif! Bam! and Pow! screen graphics that would visually represent the fisticuffs' sound effects in the 1966 TV series.
 

It wasn't unusual for Wilson's Batman to get the guano beat out of him and find himself in a perilous predicament at the end of each chapter. These cliffhangers were accompanied by an announcer's voice questioning viewers about Batman's fate and telling them to find out what happens in the next chapter. This also was done in the 1966 TV show. Remember?
"Tune in tomorrow! Same Bat-time! Same Bat-Channel!"
Lewis Wilson
Lewis Wilson as Batman in 1943 serial

Perhaps the most comical thing about the 1943 serial was Batman's costume. His ears are two cones that resemble devil horns more than bat's ears. The cowl itself was ill-fitted and impaired Wilson's vision. It was clear to see that Wilson couldn't see clearly. This was especially evident when he and his cowl got tussled around in altercations with the bad guys. "Blind as a bat" would apply in this case, I suppose.

One difference between the two incarnations of the comic was Batman's mode of transportation. While the TV show had a customized Batmobile with fancy gadgets and advanced technology, the 1943 version had an unmarked black Cadillac convertible. Wilson's Batman didn't even drive it. He had his butler Alfred (William Austin) chauffeur him and Robin around to the crime scenes in question. I guess he didn't always carry his driver's license with him, like his Bat Credit Card.

Never leave the cave without it.




scene collage
Poison Peril


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