- Directed by Leslie H. Martinson
- July 30, 1966
Batman’s Rogues Gallery unites against him in a plot to first take over Gotham then the world. It says so on their logo in their secret hideout.
Batman: The Movie is based on the less than serious live action Batman series of the late 60s. This was from the time of the Bright Knight. Surprisingly this film dips into the Cold War with Polaris Missiles, war surplus submarines, a swipe at the Pentagon, and even a thinly veiled negative portrayal of the UN Security Council. Not bad for a film inspired by a series that was mostly just for fun.
If you are expecting a darkly toned movie then you have another thing coming. This is bright and garish and silly. You may complain about it in comparison to the more recent iterations of Batman but at the time of this film the character was effectively neutered as were most comic book characters.
Batman: The Movie like the TV series also has rather silly parts or the execution thereof. There is the dehydrating invention of Commodore Schmidlapp (Reginald Denny), who does not know he has been kidnapped by the Rogues Gallery. It is an invention that is used on everything from pirates to get them in the Batcave to the United World Security Council members to kidnap them for ransom. What was the purpose of a massive dehydrating gun? Do not ask because there is none other than to get the plot going.
You don’t watch this movie for a sophisticated in a logical storyline. You watch it for the cast. And what a cast it was. Adam West and Burt Ward returned as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Dick Grayson/Robin respectively. Alan Napier appears as Alfred, Neil Hamilton is Commissioner Gordon, Stafford Repp is Chief O’Hara, and Madge Blake shows up once again as Aunt Harriet.
For the villains the incomparable Cesar Romero once again portrays his iconic version of The Joker. The legendary Burgess Meredith is The Penguin (whose appearance in an episode of The Monkees means both shows exist in the same universe). The amazingly talented Frank Gorshin is The Riddler. Lee Meriwether is The Catwoman. She took over for Julie Newmar who for some reason was unable to participate. They all took joy and had fun in what they were doing and that comes through to the audience.
This is a comic book film done in bold bright colors that mimic the comic books of the era. The villains and heroes are over the top and performed by actors that made them iconic.
The costumes are not the most expensive things in the world but somehow they look good. There’s just something to them that is magical and even though they probably were done on the cheap in comparison to what they do today they don’t look it. It’s probably in part to the comic book accuracy of their appearance as well as this movie just being done with a mind towards fun.
As it says in the opening sequence here this film is for lovers of pure unadulterated fun. While I do take issue with the extremely kid friendly/family friendly take (even tamed, the comics were still more serious than this) this movie is just fine. It’s a silly 90 minutes where you can turn your brain off and just smile or take note of the commentary.
Batman: The Movie is an enjoyable one-off film. Just leave your brain at the door and enjoy and if you do that you’ll be just fine.