Cinephilia: Batman: The Movie
Thus far, I've made an effort to be as noncontroversial as possible when it comes to my selections. That most likely comes to an end with this suggestion: the classic Batman: the Movie, the 1966 feature film spin-off from the iconic 60s Batman TV show which featured Adam West (undoubtedly known by many of you solely as the mayor of Quahog) as the caped crusader and Burt Ward as his ward and faithful sidekick, Robin the boy wonder.
Thesis: It's better than than anything the Christopher Nolan films (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises) have to offer and ultimately showcases a better understanding of what makes Batman the great character he is.
What's it about?
Holy-world crisis, Batman! United Underworld, a criminal band made up of worst of Gotham's worst (Penguin, Riddler, Joker, and Catwoman) has stolen a new invention and plans to use it to threaten world peace by targeting the United World Organization's Security Council. Can Batman and Robin save the members of the council from certain doom? Will Bruce Wayne discover the terrible secret behind Miss Kitayna, the seductive Russian journalist with the predilection towards animal prints? What has yellow skin and writes? No need to tune in next Bat-time on this Bat-channel; all the answers will be revealed by the end of the film!
Why it's great
The idea of a rich orphan dressing up in a bat costume to fight crime with an array of gadgets is . . . inherently silly and/or psychotic. Frank Miller probably mined the latter angle best, but no other version of Batman captured the raw fun of dressing up and combating outlandish supervillains than the Adam West incarnation.
Yes, it's delightful high camp and pretty much a literal live action version of a comic strip, but never for one moment is it dull. Even Batman's bone dry, ponderous law and order speeches are specifically meant to amuse, unlike the seemingly-endless, joyless monologues on the nature and role of vigilantism that fill the Nolan films. Never will you feel like the film is trying to "say something" at the expense of forwarding the narrative or just showing the viewer a darn good time.
In all honesty, I'd probably pick Batman: The Animated Series as my all-time favorite depiction of Batman and his gallery of rogues, but as much-maligned at the West Bat might have been, it's worth for younger folks to give it a second (or first!) look for a Batman that isn't afraid to just be fun and true to his comic nature.
I would add this two delightfully awesome remixes as evidence:
That said, I should add that as much as Burt Ward was great, Bruce Lee would have turned him into ground chuck in about a blink of an eye
Will you get in trouble if your parents catch you watching it?
Nope! Nothing but good, clean, all-American fun here, although Lee Meriwether . . . meow!
Late Nite Double-Feature Picture Show
I'd also point out that Anne Hathaway might try, but Ms. Eartha Kitt, now her I believe as wanting to be evil! ;)