Though the TV series lasted a short three seasons and original episodes haven’t aired since 1968, fans of Batman have been clamoring for more adventures ever since. Today, only three of the show’s main stars are still alive (Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar) so it’s about time that Warner Bros. got around to creating a reunion film. To be fair, the original series was created by 20th Century Fox, but all other Batman franchises have been owned by the WB, so it’s taken a long time for the two studios to come to some agreement to allow Warner Bros. to do so.
In what is considered a “DC Classic Original Movie,” Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is 78 minutes of campy goodness written especially for the fans of the TV series. In case you’re wondering, no, it’s not a live action film. It’s animated with all of the characters resembling the actors who played in them in the Batman show.
Even though we no longer have Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero or Frank Gorshin to voice the characters of The Penguin, The Joker and The Riddler, the animated studio did a great job finding Jeff Bergman and Wally Wingert to seamlessly play the latter two villains. They sound so much like the famous actors that you’d swear that the studio took the audio from the original series. William Salyers is a little weaker in his portrayal of The Penquin, but does an okay job. Lynne Marie Stewart sounds too young to be Aunt Harriet and Thomas Lennon’s Chief O’Hara’s Scottish accent tends to come and go, but overall, the voicing for this project has been pretty good. Sure, West sounds a bit more tired that he did when he first voiced Batman, but after a few minutes, you won’t even notice. Same goes for Ward and Newmar.
As for the plot, the fab four villains come together to take over Gotham, get rid of Batman and Robin and rule the world … or something similar. It doesn’t really matter as long as there a lot of fight scenes with word like “Zap! Pow! Bop!” explode on the screen. The title, Return of the Caped Crusaders is in reference that this version of Batman characters only. The story begins as if they series had never left the airwaves. The only difference is that the show is not in animated form.
Yes, this movie is silly, but not any sillier than the original show. Everything has the same look and feel of the original series and often pokes fun of it. Dick Grayson (aka Robin) is seen practicing ballet and says that he feels funny wearing tights, the city commissioner and chief of police are questioned what they actually do all day, Batman insists on using the crosswalk, etc. Many references from the original show are made as well. The only thing missing is the announcer. Kids who are fans of watching reruns of the show will enjoy this movie but their parents and grandparents who saw the original show when if first aired will really get into it.
The Blu-Ray and DVD pack come with two extra features: Those Dastardly Desperados and A Classic Cadre of Voices about the the making of this project. Unfortunately, they are only available on the Blu-Ray disc.
(Main Image: Warner Bros. Animation)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.