Warning: This article contains spoilers from Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders.
Batman has been featured a lot on film this year, but who needs the Dark Knight when Adam West's Batman has finally returned to screens? Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders sees West and Burt Ward become the Dynamic Duo once more in the latest venture from Warner Bros Animation. The film acts as a sequel to the classic Batman 1960s TV series.
Check out the trailer:
Return of the Caped Crusaders delivers in every department and gives fans everything they could have wanted from a follow-up to the '60s series. Just like Batman: The Killing Joke, one of the best things about #ReturnOfTheCapedCrusaders is the wealth of easter eggs featured in the film. Some of them are extremely noticeable, but others are reserved for the more learned Batman fans. Let's take a closer look and see which ones you noticed.
The Villain Line Up
The Batman TV series had one of the greatest arrays of super villains ever featured on screen, and it's clear that Return of The Caped Crusaders chose the best of the best. However, while there is no doubt that The Penguin, The Joker, The Riddler and Catwoman were definitely the TV show's greatest offerings, there is another reason this line up sounds so familiar. The feature film version of Batman (1966) — which was released in conjunction with the television series' broadcast and is often held in the highest regard — used the exact same line up.
While the TV series tended to focus on one villain and their compact plot-line for each episode, the film took things to a much grander scale as the four super villains tried to take over the world. A similar high-stakes situation is in Return of the Caped Crusaders. The only major difference is that, due to Catwoman actress Julie Newmar being unavailable for the original '60s film, Lee Meriwether was cast as Catwoman. The Newmar version the character is used in Return Of the Caped Crusaders and Newmar herself voices the role.
All Three Incarnations Of Catwoman
Speaking of Catwoman, one of my favourite easter eggs in the film is the nod to the three versions of Catwoman featured in the '60s Batman. While most of us remember Julie Newmar most fondly, there were actually two other Catwomen. As I mentioned above, Lee Meriwether filled in for the feature film. Newmar was again unavailable during the show's third and final season, so actress Eartha Kitt took on the role for several episodes.
All three Catwomen brought something completely different to the table and all of them have no doubt influenced the more modern versions of the character. In Return of The Caped Crusaders, Batman gets hit on the head with Penguin's umbrella which results in his seeing triple —in this case the Catwomen look different from one another, each resembling an actress who played her in the '60s series or film.
The only thing that bugs me is that the animated version of Meriwether has a fringe. This could be a nod to the fact that after she played Catwoman in the original film, Meriwether played a character in an episode of the Batman series with a fringe. I also don't understand why Warner Bros didn't get Meriwether to voice her Catwoman.
The Other Villains
The villain roster of the '60s Batman TV was almost as if it was ripped straight from a comic book. In Return Of The Caped Crusaders, many of the most famous villains cameo for an epic fight scene that is reminiscent of the classic fighting scenes from the show.
The Clock King, False Face, The Mad Hatter, The Minstrel, Louie The Lilac, The Black Widow, Mr. Freeze, The Bookworm, Egghead, The Siren, Shame, The Sandman and The Archer all make an appearance.
Although the characters never speak, their appearance is enough to make even the hardest Batman fan feel nostalgic. While the Mr. Freeze that appears in Return of The Caped Crusaders is very much based on Otto Preminger's likeness, other elements of the character pay tribute to the other two actors who handled the freeze ray during the show's run, most notably the hairstyle which is reminiscent of Eli Wallach's version of the character. Well done if you remembered them all as the '60s Batman was notorious for creating their own comical cohorts — some of who we still remember fondly to this day.
The Onomatopoeic Words Paid Tribute To The First Two Seasons Of Batman
Anyone who knows about the '60s Batman series remembers the comic book-eqsue sound effect words that pop up on-screen during fight scenes. Return of The Caped Crusaders was bound to replicate this iconic trait and it does so perfectly. As heroes punch villains, the colourful words appear over the top of the action, just as they did in the first season of Batman. However, about half way through the film when our #superheroes engage in another fight, the words are displayed in a different manner.
Instead of just popping up on top of the action, colourful title cards featuring the onomatopoeic words are displayed instead. This style was used during the second season of Batman and it was pretty awesome to see Return of The Caped Crusaders using both iterations from the show. During the third season, the title cards would glow — this was not used in the new film but maybe we'll see it in the sequel.
Easter Eggs In The Opening Titles
The opening titles of Return of The Caped Crusaders primarily feature the dynamic duo re-creating famous #DC comic book covers. The most notable scene is when the pair recreate their 'first appearance' comics. This is the second Batman animated film of the year to attempt this, after Batman: The Killing Joke also made a nod to Batman's first comics appearance.
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Burton Easter Eggs
One of the best things about Return of The Caped Crusaders is that although it is set in the 1960s, the film pays tribute to Batman adaptations that followed the television series. With the use of quotations from the Tim Burton films as well as intimidating mannerisms from other versions, the film almost becomes a commentary on how Batman has evolved since the '60s into a much darker crime fighter.
The first obvious example is seen when Batman attacks the terrifying threesome aboard the space station, hitting the Joker with everything he's got.
Yikes, who'd have thought Adam West's Batman could be so hard? This quotation sounds more than appropriate for this situation, but it's actually a direct quote from Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film.
Michael Keaton's use of this phrase is one of the most known scenes from Batman '89 and it was pretty awesome to hear Adam West quoting Michael Keaton. As a fan of both Batmen, it's certainly a nerd out moment!
Burton's Batman is quoted again, this second time from Batman Returns. When Batman, Robin and Catwoman confront The Joker, The Riddler and The Penguin aboard the space craft, the villains question Batman about how he figured out their plans. However, it's Catwoman's response that's notable here.
It's not an obvious comparison and you could totally be forgiven for not recognizing it at first, but Julie Newmar's words are an attempt to reiterate Michelle Pfeiffer's brilliant quote from Batman Returns when she is slating Max Shreck for his stupidity.
Newmar's quotation is a slightly more tongue in cheek version, but the sentiment remains the same. Julie Newmar and Michelle Pfeiffer are widely regarded as the two greatest live action Catwomen which made this scene all the more enjoyable.
Adam West Quotes The Dark Knight Returns
I never thought I'd see Adam West quoting from The Dark Knight Returns — it was like the gift we never knew we wanted until it actually happened. Somehow, it works. The '60s Batman exists in its own happy universe and yet mixing it with much darker Batman works surprisingly well.
In Return of The Caped Crusaders, Batman walks intimidatingly towards the Riddler while uttering this badass quotation from The Dark Knight Returns before beating the up Riddler in a horrifying fashion.
Throwing Shade At The Dark Knight Rises
One of the finest moments from Return of the Caped Crusaders cames when Batman asks Catwoman to give up her life of organized crime. Catwoman uses this opportunity to throw shade at the ending of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises.
The Dark Knight Rises ended with Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne and Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle retreating to Italy to "sip tea in a cafe" and live there happily ever after, concluding Nolan's critically acclaimed Dark Knight Trilogy. Some people loved the controversial ending, while others hated it. Clearly Robin wasn't a fan!
Check out a clip from Return Of the Caped Crusaders:
Batman: Return of The Caped Crusaders marks a turning point for the DC animated universe, injecting some light-hearted positivity back into Batman's dark world. It's been a tough year for the Gotham superhero as both Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad failed to live up to expectations. Even The Killing Joke was attacked for changing the narrative a little too much.
Return of The Caped Crusaders replicates the comedic tone of the classic series perfectly — it is everything a fan of the show could want. With a sequel in the works, it looks like Adam West's Batman is well and truly batusi-ing his way to the top once more.
Batman: Return of The Caped Crusaders is out November 1 on Blu-ray and DVD.
Did Return of The Caped Crusaders live up to your expectations? Tell me in the comment section below!