Well hey there, Gotham! The name’s Frank. I’ve been a follower of the Gotham Podcast (or Gotham Central, or Gotham Inc., or Got Ham, or whatever they’re calling it this week) since it first began, and it’s a pleasure to finally be writing a column for the site! Growing up, I never considered myself a Batman fan. Superman always was and always will be my favorite hero. Take a moment to absorb it. Pick up those Batarangs you just threw at your screen. Feeling better? Ready to move on? Good!
I grew up in the 90s, so Batman: The Animated Series and the Justice League/JLU series were definitely a big part of my childhood. But still, the Man of Steel stood apart from any other hero for me. So why does all this matter? Well, ever since I began reading DC Comics on a regular basis about 4 years ago, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the Caped Crusader. Sure, he may be human, but he’s almost as cool as Superman! Sort of!
So after talking things over with Crazy Quilt / MK2FAC3 / Hunter, we thought it would be a fun idea if I did a column on Batman in all his various forms from the perspective of a non-Batfan. For my first trick, I’d like to take you back to where my Batman awareness really began: the 1966 Batman feature film starring none other than TV’s Adam West!
This movie holds a special place for me, because it was my introduction to the characters of Batman, Robin, Commissioner Gordon, Catwoman, Joker, Ridder, and Penguin. And for a couple of years, it was my only exposure to those characters. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen it. Of course, at age 5, I took it very seriously. There was a kidnapped Commodore! And a shark! The United World was at stake! The villains had a dehydrator thingy that could turn people into pretty sand art! It wasn’t until years later that my world was shattered when I discovered that the film and the TV series were actually one big inside joke about the campy nature of comics at the time. Still, I enjoy the hell out of it every time I watch it. A recent re-watch before writing this column confirmed it. So what if the United World Security Council looks more like my grandmother’s dining room table than a place of diplomacy? Who cares if it was a rubber shark? Why does it matter that the Joker paints over his mustache? Why do my pants get tingly every time Catwoman walks on screen? I still love this movie!
What’s really great about watching Batman at a really young age is that it’s the perfect way to learn the basics about what the character stands for. Adam West’s portrayal is nuanced enough that little kids don’t pick up on his exaggerated tone. Instead, they see that Batman is a normal guy just like them who uses his brains, muscle, and a little talent to beat the bad guys and save the day. When you get right down to it, that’s all a kid really needs to know. Batman’s a brave good guy, and you can be one, too! Sure, he’s the World’s Greatest Detective, of course he has virtually unlimited resources. But none of that really matters when you’re five years old! Having Robin around really drives that point home. Dick Grayson is just a kid (or at least he’s supposed to be) and he’s fighting crime and kicking butt right alongside Batman. It gives a little boy hope that he can be just like his heroes when he grows up, even though he can’t fly and he doesn’t have a power ring.
If you’ve never seen the film, or even if it’s been a few years since your last viewing, don’t rent it, buy it! You won’t regret it! Even as an adult, this baby is full of gems! The dialogue is filled with Easter Eggs that I guarantee you never noticed as a child. And the answers to the Riddler’s puzzles are ten times better when you’re old enough to appreciate them! It’s tempting to quote some of my favorite lines right here and now, but I don’t want to spoil them for anyone. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean!
So that’s my opinion as a non-Batman fan. This movie is awesome and definitely ranks in my top comic book movies of all time. It’s a classic that should never be overlooked! I hope you enjoyed my little tirade. What do you think? Do you love this movie? Hate it? Think I should be raked over the Kryptonite coals for loving Superman? Sound off in the comments below! And remember: some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb.