Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders Review
As someone who grew up on reruns of the original Adam West/Burt Ward Batman ’66 (or just Batman as it was known then), for many years, this was the only version of the Caped Crusader that I knew. Living in a small Staffordshire village, where US comics weren’t readily available, it wasn’t till my late teens I discovered the much darker comic book versions we’ve come to know and love. Because of this, I have a huge affection for the Batman ’66 series, so was extremely excited when I heard they were doing a new animated series using some of the original actors to voice the roles that made them iconic stars.
Given the series is now 50 years old, the only original actors involved are Adam West as Batman, Burt Ward as Robin, and Julie Newmar as Catwoman. The rest of the cast is filled out with some brilliant sound-a-likes with Jeff Bergman playing Cesar Romero’s Joker, Wally Wingert as Frank Gorshin’s Riddler, William Salyers as Burgess Meredith’s Penguin, Jim Ward as Neil Hamilton’s Commissioner Gordon. These are not new takes on the characters, but very much mimicking the roles of the original actors, and doing a great job at it too. Bergman & Wingert are so good, you would think they’d somehow found a bunch of unused tapes from Romero & Gorshin, and stitched it together to make the movie.
The story revolves around 4 of Batman’s most dastardly villains (Joker, Riddler, Penguin and Catwoman) teaming up to cause mayhem and havoc in the fine city of Gotham. The Caped Crusaders are of course on hand to thwart their evil scheme, along with the classic ‘OOF!’ ‘POWW!’ ‘BASH!’ fight sequences. The animation does an amazing job of capturing the feel of the classic tv show, whilst also expanding it to do things that would never have been possible on the original series. There are also a number of brilliant side-swipes at other iterations of Batman. From the brooding, dark comic book and animated series versions, to the Nolan film version, there are digs galore, with a knowing nod and wink to fans everywhere. Over the 75 minutes runtime, what starts off as a pretty straightforward animated version of a lost Batman ’66 episode, expands out into something much larger, but still manages to keep the same, campy, Batman ’66 feel.
For fans of the original Batman ’66, it’s a brilliant, trippy, trip down memory lane. For parents with young kids they want to introduce to the Caped Crusader, this is a great place to start. And for Batman fans everywhere, I think they’ll love seeing classic Batman poke a little bit of fun at it’s later iterations. It’s entertaining, nostalgic fun, and a brilliant gift for any Batman fan this Christmas.