He may be known for stalking the night and fighting some of the DC universe's most deranged criminals and psychopaths, but Batman first saw live-action popularity in the '60s television serial Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin.
After going through eight feature films, multiple video games and countless animation series and/or movies that all took hints from Tim Burton's influential Gothic rendition of the caped crusader in his hit 1989 movie, the more cheerful and adventurous side of Batman is finally back in all of its glory with the announcement of the latest DC Universe Animated Original Movie. Batman: The Return of the Caped Crusaders will see the return of the '60s character versions, in animated form.
Holy Cartoon, Batman!
DC Entertainment just dropped the trailer for the upcoming animated revival of one of the most iconic shows from the '60s and you can check out the trailer here. The trailer has yet to be uploaded on public sharing sites, so the provided link will have to suffice for now.
The minute-long trailer shows the Dynamic Duo tied to a gigantic food tray on a conveyor belt that leads to an incinerator's scorching mouth. As they slowly roll to their deaths, Batman and Robin dispense all sorts of puns, fourth-wall breaking jokes and information about their upcoming movie, including the cast list that includes Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman) voicing their original roles from the '60s show.
Batman and Robin escape their imminent death through the power of hardened syrup, right before telling the audience that they will fight Joker, Penguin and Catwoman on Earth and space. They then run off to the Batmobile while a familiar tune plays in the background. Physical and digital copies of the movie will be available for purchase on November 1, 2016.
Camp Is The New Black
Despite occasionally being dismissed as an aged product of its time, the '60s Batman is still incredibly popular and highly influential among long-time Batman fans. It holds sway over some of the character's various incarnations, as seen in the cartoon Batman: The Brave and the Bold which focused more on comic action than the detective work and brooding that have come to define Batman in recent years.
The old-school Dynamic Duo even saw a recent revival in the form of a well received comic book written by none other than Batman fanboy Kevin Smith. In this story, Batman and Robin join forces with the Green Hornet and Kato to stop the heist of a priceless fossil. The crossover is as crazy and fun as you'd hope it might be.
Compared to more recent Batman incarnations, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet refused to take themselves too seriously; they have fun with cool gadgets, death traps and super team ups between clean-cut good guys, making fans remember an innocent brand of heroics that seems absent in today's modern superhero scene.
A Lighter Dark Knight
As influential and iconic as The Dark Knight trilogy is, some people held Christopher Nolan's grounded take on Batman responsible for the temporary trend of excessively dark superhero movies that ignored their characters' comic roots in favor of mean-spirited deconstructions. The last straw for critics of this new style was Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, where a violent Batman (Ben Affleck) had more in common with an extreme '90s anti-hero than he did with the hero of Gotham people remember.
In the wake of the criticism and mockery the current DC films have been getting thanks to mistaking "depressing" for "realistic," it looks like DC finally learned what was wrong and is now setting out to balance their live-action movies' more serious tones with lighthearted superhero spin-offs, like next year's The Lego Batman Movie (2017), which promises the same level of tongue-in-cheek humor seen in The Lego Movie being applied to the Dark Knight and his mythos.
There is nothing objectively wrong with a grittier Batman but DC has been taking the character too seriously and at times, forgetting that Batman is still a guy from a comic book who dresses up as a bat to fight crime and get over the death of his parents. Given how pop culture seems to be going down memory lane, the resurgence of '60's camp -now with a newfound sense of self-awareness -is a welcome sight in a time when movies seem to be locked in a gritty arms race where they try to prove themselves to be darker than the competition.
Audiences just need a break from Batman's melancholic brooding every now and then, which is what makes Batman: The Return of the Caped Crusaders even more enticing for fans. Not only could this new animated movie provide a breath of fresh air in DC's current superhero outings or serve as a big nostalgia bomb for those who grew up watching televised reruns of of the '60s Batman (i.e. yours truly), but Batman: The Return of the Caped Crusaders may also remind audiences and hopefully DC itself that Batman - contrary to popular belief - can be fun.