BATMAN ON FILM, since June 1998!
HISTORY OF THE BATMAN

“Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot.
So my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts.
I must be a creature of the night.
Black. Terrible.
I shall become A BAT!”
--
Bruce Wayne, DETECTIVE COMICS #33 (November 1939)

"BATMAN ON FILM" -- BATMAN '66
Author: Jett

(EDITOR’S NOTE: While we aspire to be historically as accurate as possible, rumor is used at times when it is of historical significance. There also may be an element of the author’s opinion found at times in these articles.)

In 1966, the BATMAN television series debuted January on ABC TV. A throwback to the 1940s, it aired twice a week in a half hour “serial” format. Part one would end with a cliffhanger than would be resolved in part two the following night.

The series was not intended to be a serious portrayal of the character. In fact, it was to be a comedy -- a parody of superheroes and the Batman character in general (Ironically, DC Comics had just revamped the Batman character in the comic books to make him more serious). In short, BATMAN was nothing but a goof.

Starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin, the show became a huge overnight hit for the network and an outbreak of “Batmania” hit the U.S.

Producers of the television show had planned debuting the series on the big screen during the summer of ‘66 as a feature film, and then begin the TV series in the fall. But ABC decided to air BATMAN as a mid-season replacement in early 1966, so the movie would actually hit theaters after the airing of the TV show’s first season.

BATMAN‘s plot is fairly simple: Batman and Robin are out to stop a combination of The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Riddler (Frank Gorshin), Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), and The Penguin (Burgess Meredith) from taking over the world. The “Fearsome Foursome” have a weapon that can turn people into dust (yes, dust) and plan to use it to carry out there plan -- as well as to take out Batman and Robin once and for all.

BATMAN, directed by Leslie H. Martinson, was released on July 30, 1966 following the world premiere in Austin, Texas at the Paramount Theater.

Like the TV show, the movie has the same campy/tongue in cheek humor and exaggerated acting performances. If you are a fan of the “dark” Dark Knight, you probably dislike the movie. For me, it is a two-edge sword. I absolutely loved the TV show as a kid -- in fact, I credit it for making me a Batman fan (I thought it was very serious as a child). However, I’m a fan of the darker Batman myself, so the campy take on the character isn’t really my cup of tea. But I think one can enjoy it if you take it in context. The problem with BATMAN and the TV show is that it became ingrained in people’s minds that that was what Batman was all about.

Even today, say “Batman” to someone, and they are likely to hum the TV show theme or give you a “Pow, Zap, Wham” in response.

NEXT: The Warner Bros. Burton/Schumacher BATMAN Film Series

"Jett" is the editor-in-chief of BATMAN ON FILM and BATMAN IN COMICS.

RESOURCES

1. Daniels, Les. BATMAN: THE COMPLETE HISTORY.
2. Reinhart, Mark S. THE BATMAN FILMOGRAPHY.
3. Jimenez, Phil THE DC COMICS ENCYCLOPEDIA.
4. "BATMAN (1966)," WIKIPEDIA.COM, accessed on January 1st thru 26th, 2006.
5. Ramey, William E. BATMAN ON FILM (website).
6. INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE, accessed on January 27th and 28th, 2006.

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