By Michael Kaye
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (Review)
I've said this before and I'll say it again, 2016 has been a critical year for DC Entertainment. Geoff Johns breathed new life into the comics with Rebirth, The CW launched my personal favorite new series Legends of Tomorrow, and the DCEU officially kicked off with two films, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Unfortunately, audiences were very split when it came to the movies, with some complaints were aimed at BvS for being too dark and gritty. Well, the good news for them is that WB Animation has a new film to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the classic Adam West Batman TV series in Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders.
The film sees the dynamic duo going up against classic villains like The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin and Catwoman, both in Gotham City… and in space.
This was such a delight to watch, as someone who may not have grown up with the Adam West series, but is well aware of its impact on pop culture. Here are my positives and negatives.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
First off, how great is it seeing most of the original cast reunited again? As I mentioned before, while I never grew up watching the 60's TV series, I've seen plenty of parodies and homages over the years, most if not all of them actually featuring Adam West himself. My personal favorites are the Batman TAS episode "Beware the Grey Ghost" and his numerous appearances on The Fairly OddParents voicing the fictitious hero Catman. But to see him reunited with Burt Ward and Julie Newmar just put a big smile on my face. My one complaint is that some lines of dialogue sounded a bit off in terms of the delivery, but that's to be expected, especially since everyone's gotten older. Unfortunately Cesar Romero and Frank Gorshin have long since passed away, but they got some great voice actors like Jeff Bergman and Wally Wingert to take over the roles of The Joker and The Riddle respectively.
The animation looks absolutely amazing. I get the feeling that director Rick Morales was not only a fan of the original TV show, but has also read issues of the recent digital comic title Batman '66, as that's what the art style reminded me of the most. The opening title sequence plays a great homage to some of the most important comic book covers of the character's early history, from Batman's debut in Detective Comics #27, Robin's introduction in Detective Comics #38, and the first issue of Batman's solo comic. Everything from the original TV show is present, from the Batmobile to the entrance into the Batcave. And yes, they even have the Onomatopoeia's as an added bonus.
In terms of the actual story, James Tucker and Michael Jelenic wrote the screenplay, which is fantastic. These two have been involved in various DC animated projects, including the Justice League animated series, Batman: Brave and the Bold, and Vixen. It's good that these guys were brought on board, simply because they have had the most experience working within the DC Universe, especially on a series like Brave and the Bold. The whole plot involving space travel and the duplicator ray is so cheesy, yet fits right in with the rest of the Silver Age of Comics, where science fiction was all the rage. Also, in a year that probably featured the most brutal version of Batman on the big screen, the writers must have gotten a huge kick out of satirizing that version when he became evil thanks to Catwoman's potion.
Finally, the music by Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion and Lolita Ritmanis was great. It was a damn near perfect recreation and update to the original theme song from the 60's TV series from the people who've worked on shows such as Batman Beyond, Justice League and Teen Titans. Even the transitions were a lot of fun, especially once Batman went fully evil and started taking over Gotham City.
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is just delightful. Honestly, there's room for all interpretations of the DC superheroes, you don't have to limit yourself to just one. Fans of the DCEU have Ben Affleck kicking ass and taking names as a more grizzled Batman in live action, while Adam West is bringing back his more lighthearted version of the character in animation. Regardless of the version you prefer, I highly recommend you check this film out ASAP.
Now I want to hear from you guys. Have you seen Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader, and if so what did you think? Also, which is your favorite version of the character? Drop your thoughts in the comments below, and in case you missed it check out my last review of the most buzzed about from this year's Sundance, Birth of a Nation by clicking RIGHT HERE!