Adam West and your Batman

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R.I.P. Adam West

 

The death of Adam West immediately resurrected the old argument: Who's your favorite Batman? 

It's ironic that Roger Moore passed away so close to the same time: His death, of course, caused a chorus of favorite James Bond arguments. They both held similar positions in their perspective portrayals: They were the lighter, more colorful ones who weren't afraid to poke a little fun at their genres.

 

That being the case--especially with West--the argument becomes apples and oranges. What, I can't have both? A big navel orange, followed by a nice Red Delicious? Comparing Adam West to, say, Christian Bale is like comparing ... hm. Oh, I know: Like comparing "Battlestar Galactica" to "Battlestar Galactica". Love or hate the reboot, it just wasn't the same show as the original.

 

I've probably just started arguments that would rival fights among British football fans, but there you go.

 

"Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb." -- Batman

 

Look at the above quote, and picture Michael Keaton's Batman saying that. Look at the photo, and imagine Christian Bale's Batman cavorting with a purple Batgirl or a bright red and yellow Robin. Ain't gonna happen. For that matter, imagine Ben Affleck making fun of his Batman on an episode of Family Guy. (Clooney would probably do it.)

 

My point is, you can like them both, or all, even Val Kilmer if you want. If you're a sports fan, the analogy is that you can like both the Cubs and the Bears: They're both in the same city, but they're two different animals.

 

So embrace and remember the fun that was Adam West. We should all be so lucky as to bring that much joy to such a wide audience.

Comments

Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Jun 11, 2017 - 10:56am
Christian Bale is my favorite Batman but all the four who are most noted for the role including West were great in the role. As a person of 29 years I am most familiar with Adam West’s work on Family Guy where he was truly funny. Him and a very few like West (such as the late Christopher Lee) worked into their 80's+ and never quit working till their deaths. A true dedication to one's art if there ever was. 
John Minehan Added Jun 11, 2017 - 11:29am
West did some interesting non-Batman work as well. 
 
He did an episode of The Outer Limits called "The Invisible Enemy" (S;2, E:7).
 
It was in the weaker second season of that show, when the handwriting was on the wall for that expensive show (whose creator had left) was on the wall, but the episode generated a far amount of suspense, in no small part due to West making the commander of a Mars probe, whose crew keep disappearing believable.  
 
The way he played it clearly owed something to Charlton Heston's style, but in "do it quick and fast" genre TV, it was a solid, professional acting choice. 
Michael B. Added Jun 11, 2017 - 12:04pm
Adam West was in a class by himself as the Batman chracter. I wasn't as fond of the TV show as some of my scampy little buddies were, but still liked it. I have the 1966 movie on DVD, and watch it every few years or so just for a chuckle. At a job I had, one of the quality managers, while not really looking like Adam West, had very similar mannerisms as Adam West/Bruce Wayne, including an annoying habit of repeating things, such as:
 
Me: "You can't have the flow meter calibrated by itself; there also must be a couple of feet of pipe on the inlet and outlet side for it to be properly calibrated."
 
Him: "You...can't have...the flow meter calibrated...by...itself...there also must be...a couple of feet...of pipe...on the INLET and OUTLET SIDE....FOR IT TO BE PROPERLY CALIBRATED!"
 
Sometimes I half-expected him to say, "To the Batmobile, Robin."
 
Regarding the movies, I still remember the controversy surrounding the choice of Michael Keaton to play Batman in the 1989 movie, but I thought he did a good job. Talk about hype! That movie was probably the most hyped-up in movie history as far as I'm concerned. It went on for months before finally showing. I also thought Christian Bale was very good in the role. The Dark Knight was an awesome movie for sure.
 
I also finally watched a porn parody of the original series, and thought it was at least as funny as the movie; Catwoman finally got what was "coming" to her, lol.
 
Michael B. Added Jun 11, 2017 - 12:27pm
Here's a rocking version of the Batman theme from The Jam:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXmPEsuipUw
Dino Manalis Added Jun 11, 2017 - 1:51pm
Batman and Robin, a dynamic duo!
Jeffrey Kelly Added Jun 11, 2017 - 2:46pm
I used to watch the 60's Batman series when I was a kid.  It always brings back fond memories.
 
RIP, Adam West.  
Mark Hunter Added Jun 11, 2017 - 5:21pm
Jenifer, if the time ever comes that I write full time, I hope I'll be doing it right up to the last possible moment, like West and Lee did. Clearly, they loved what they were doing.
Mark Hunter Added Jun 11, 2017 - 5:23pm
John, I've been reading up on some of his non-Batman work. So sad that we don't appreciate them for more than one role until they're gone.
Mark Hunter Added Jun 11, 2017 - 5:32pm
I remember that Micheal Keaton hype, Michael; its the reason why I no longer criticize casting decisions until I see the results on screen.
 
i can do a pretty good Captain Kirk--maybe I should try my hand at Batman? My wife is younger than me and never saw the series, so I tracked down the movie ... the good new is that she liked and appreciated it, so we can stay married.  Still, there's no Batman actor I really disliked, although I haven't seen the porn version (yet).
 
Love the Batman theme! I know what my ear worm will be this week.
Mark Hunter Added Jun 11, 2017 - 5:34pm
They were dynamic, Dino! We need a new Robin in the movies.
 
Jeffry, the series was in early reruns just as I got old enough to enjoy it. I didn't appreciate the winks then, but it was great fun.
John Minehan Added Jun 11, 2017 - 5:51pm
The thing about Keaton was that he was very good as Bruce Wayne, where Wayne, at the time, was being portrayed in the comics as a flawed man, obsessed with his parents' murder.  In effect, that made Keaton's appearances in the Bat-suit, a special effect, in what otherwise was the story of Bruce Wayne's redemption form his childhood trauma.
 
The Batman TV series was played for laughs . . . but the Batman comic (between 1964 and the winter of '66 when the Batman series became a hit) had been effectively transformed by writer John Broome and editor Julius Schwartz into, well, the on-going adventures of a sort of a Nelson Rockefeller-type uber-competent philanthropist, who chased super-villains, in his spare time, instead of being Governor of New York.
 
Despite the TV series being camp, you saw echoes of that in the way Adam West played Bruce Wayne/Batman.   
Mark Hunter Added Jun 12, 2017 - 1:35am
That makes sense to me--and unlike other movie Batmen (Batmans?), Keaton's version depended a lot more on gadgets and intimidation than on strength and mad fighting skills. In other words it was Bruce playing Batman, rather than Batman who occasionally bided his time as Bruce.
 
I liked that the comic occasionally changed it up, even when forced to by the success of the series. I didn't read Batman for long, but when I did he'd become the terrifying avenger of the night again, who only smiled when he thought about how much his sudden disappearances unnerved people. I'm ordinarily more of the fun-loving guy, but Batman is best when scary.
Patrick Writes Added Jun 12, 2017 - 2:43am
Batman was a comic book and cartoon character for children. Adam West understood this. I enjoyed old reruns of the Batman series around 1981 and 82 being a 4 and 5 year old. And I caught a little of the 1970's Super Friends with Batman too.
 
All subsequent Batman's seemed to be an experiment in how dark do you have to make a silly, child's superhero for adults to take it seriously. Apparently pretty dark.
 
The first Michael Keaton Batman walked the line, probably crossed it of making Batman too dark, but was a pretty good movie overall. And Batman Returns simply wasn't for kids at all. It wasn't really a superhero movie, the 'big finale' was a mentally deranged woman getting shot 5 five times at point blank range, then electrocuting herself and the bad guy. And it made the bad guys more interesting than the good guy (did good even triumph over evil?).
 
Every time they tried making the genre lighter (Val Kilmer and then George Clooney), movie audiences hated it. So they decided to go even darker with the Christian Bale movies and the Batman v. Superman movies.
 
It's too bad because a movie with Batman in the title, children are naturally going to want to see it. But the Dark Knight, the 3rd Christian Bale movie, and Batman vs. Superman were not for kids. 
 
By contrast, some of the Marvel movies have figured out how to cast a wider net of mostly kid friendly and entertaining to other demographics (first Avengers movie comes to mind, maybe Antman).
 
And going back a little further, the first Superman movie was aimed at kids and adults.
 
Children's characters in cartoons and comic books shouldn't be made into movies so dark the actors are dying trying to come out of the role and people are committing mass shootings in imitation of the villains .
 
Mark Hunter Added Jun 12, 2017 - 4:21am
Actually, the very early Batman could be very dark--at first he even carried a gun, and used it. I'd imagine they started lightening him up after the Comics Code Authority came along in 1954, and it would have been a short step from there to camp.
 
Just the same, although the comic Batman at his best was always darker than most other heroes, I did think the movie Batman got too dark. Given a choice I've always been a DC fan over Marvel, but Marvel found the right movie balance early on and kept to it. DC hasn't really done that since the first two Chris Reeve Superman movies, which were the very definition of fun for everyone.
John Minehan Added Jun 12, 2017 - 4:36pm
The very early (1939) Batman story about "The Monk," a vampire that "Bat-Man" (as he was called then) dispatched with silver bullets or the Hugo Strange story in Batman # 1, where Batman machine guns these vagrants  Hugo Strange has turned into giants because, he does not seem interested in finding out if the transformation can be undone, show just how dark the early Batman could get. 
 
He started get lighter after the introduction of Robin in 1940.
 
In the early to mid-1950s, Editor Jack Schiff presided over a very good era in Batman, where a lot of former pulp writers like Ed Hamilton and David Levine wrote clever mystery stories.  Schiff, a former pulp editor, then followed a trend to make Batman more science fiction oriented almost killing the character's sales.
 
Schiff was followed by Julius Schwartz as editor, who brought in his stable of writers (John Broome, Gardner Fox and France Herron) as well as artists like Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella. Schwartz's "New Look" Batman sold well and gave the character a new lease on life.
 
After the TV Show became a hit, the camp style seemed to infect the comic until the show was cancelled in 1968.  At that time, Fox left DC Comics and Broome retired about a year later and first writer /artist Frank Robbins and the young, Marvel-influenced Mike Fredrich, tried to make the character darker and more "street-level, they were followed by the writer/artist team of Denny O'Neil and Neal Artist who created a runoff classic stories.
 
In the late 1970s, Marvel veteran Steve Engleheart and first artist Walter Simpson and finally the late artist Marshall Rogers, had a much admired run on Detective Comics.         
wsucram15 Added Jun 12, 2017 - 5:04pm
I remember Adam West as Batman on Saturdays after cartoons. Instead of showing any violence it was stopped and Baaaam! or Powww! was shown.  Such a classic.  Ive read some of the original comics as well, I have a friend that collects all that old stuff.  His bad copies you can touch are hard to read but still cool to look at. 
I liked most of the Batmen..its subjective I suppose, they all had a different spin on the character. 
Bill Kamps Added Jun 12, 2017 - 5:28pm
So different, there was nothing dark about the West Batman.  It was comedy.  Tough to compare comedy and drama, we might as we be comparing Batman to Gilligan's Island.
 
West was great because it is so tough to walk that line between campy funny, and stupid.   Max Baer funny, Diederich Bader stupid
( AKA Jethro Bodine ).
Michael B. Added Jun 12, 2017 - 6:00pm
That reminds me; when I was about nine or ten years old, I got into a fight with another kid, and yelled out things like "Powww!", "Bam!", and "Crunch!", among other things when I hit him. I pretty much kicked his ass, but after he recovered, he suddenly charged me and knocked me down, and was on top of me when I reached up with both of my feet, put them on his face, and I'm pretty sure I yelled out, "Whammm!" as I slammed his head backward onto the grass. I didn't fuck around this time, and pummeled his face hard several times before the grown-ups starting showing up and pulled me off of him. It was quiet for another few weeks, until one day while walking through a field, him and another dickhead kid started throwing rocks at me; a particularly well-aimed and lucky return throw from me hit him directly between his eyes, and I chased down his asshole buddy and beaned him pretty good, too, but I think I was over the Batman-like sound effects by that point. Ahhh, such fond memories of childhood! lol
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Jun 13, 2017 - 12:16am
That's funny Michael, reminds me of a part from the comic book movie Watchmen which features masked heroes and villains (like most comic book movies). Pretty much a serious drama. Although one idiot with no special abilities whatsoever liked to suit-up and call himself Captain Carnage. He would show up from time to time and say "punish me!" to the heroes. They basically ignored the idiot pain in the ass. One day the idiot tried it on Rorschack (one of the masked heroes), so Rorschack dropped the idiot down a elevator shaft. End of story. Not really funny I guess. Well it's sorta funny!
Mark Hunter Added Jun 13, 2017 - 12:51am
I didn't realize Robin was introduced so early, John. But then, I never regularly read his comics--I mostly saw Batman as a supporting character in other comics like Justice League and The Brave and the Bold, where he wasn't always treated the same way.
Mark Hunter Added Jun 13, 2017 - 12:59am
That's the thing, wsucram--I kind of liked all the spins on his character! Guess I'm just easily entertained. Like Bill said, it's apples and oranges. I mean, Gilligan and Christian Bale.  Michael B. was Christian Bale.
Mark Hunter Added Jun 13, 2017 - 1:04am
Yeah, it's sort of funny, Jenifer! Well, not in real life.
 
I'm reminded of a comic book panel from several years ago that showed one of the newer Robins looking off the side of the building, along with another character (can't remember who), who's wearing a horrified expression. Robin's saying something like, "I love that little Wiley Coyote poof they make when they hit the ground".
Michael B. Added Jun 13, 2017 - 12:57pm
Whether it was comic books or cartoons, extreme violence seems to be integral to all of them. A few years ago I was watching some old Looney Tunes cartoons from the 40's and 50's (before they were removed for copyright reasons), and I re-discovered how they are all thickly laden with violence. Woody Woodpecker (a childhood favorite) was a complete psychopath. Guns and machine guns; cannons; high and low explosives; blacksmithing, woodworking, and gardening tools; sharp and blunt instruments; any and all vehicles that moved on the air, land, and sea; poisons, insecticides, and narcotics; all used for quasi-homicidal purposes, to our delight and entertainment! A couple of years ago when I first heard of the demise of the infamous Silk Road website, I thought to myself, "Maybe they should have named themselves the ACME Company."
wsucram15 Added Jun 13, 2017 - 1:25pm
MichaelB..I remember that again on Saturdays.  No wonder we have Nickelodeon and the Disney channel today.  Just think about the Road runner or Peppy Le Pew.  Wow. some MA rated stuff today.
Michael B. Added Jun 13, 2017 - 1:45pm
Yep...I think Pepe le Pew would be considered a sex offender these days, not to mention the target of numerous criminal and civil lawsuits. Bugs Bunny obviously is a candidate for being a transsexual, judging from his propensity for dressing up like a female, and Daffy Duck is seriously into S&M and snuff films, especially considering the multiple shotgun blasts to the head he has racked up over the years. Foghorn Leghorn would be pilloried as a racist and a redneck, and Yosemite Sam would have had to attend numerous court-ordered anger management classes. lol
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Jun 13, 2017 - 10:47pm
Foghorn leghorn is hilarious regardless of what any PC people might say. About ten years ago or so I saw a crappy C grade horror film about time travel and the main bad guy (played by Jim Beluche) was such a bad actor I swear he must have set in a room watching old WB (Warner Brothers) Foghorn Leghorn cartoons to try to learn a Texas accent! It was so bad it was actually funny. I say, I say I swear it was, lol! 
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Jun 13, 2017 - 10:49pm
And Mark, BTW what happened to your Wonder Woman article?  If I try to click on it it just redirects to the Writer’s Beat home page. 
Mark Hunter Added Jun 14, 2017 - 12:17am
The Road Runner was my favorite! And never once did I consider the possibility that any of those stunts should be tried in real life, or that I should order something from the Acme Company. Looney Tunes were awesome.
 
The Wonder Woman article is supposed to be just in a draft, Jenifer--I didn't think anyone would be able to see it like that. (I didn't want to get yelled at for posting again too soon.) I'll just go over and see if I can post it.
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Jun 14, 2017 - 12:50am
Must be a glitch in the system Mark. But it's shown at the top of the page here. You are not the only one experiencing this glitch, when I click on one of my own articles I see at the top of the page a link to my upcoming article on Putin, Wall Street and Capitalism, which is also just a draft currently and links back to the homepage. Oh well I guess just consider it a "stay tuned next time, same bat-channel, same bat-time" kind of preview thing! 
Mark Hunter Added Jun 14, 2017 - 2:27am
I went over to my page, and the post did have a little box with the word "draft" in one corner ... that explains why you couldn't open it, but it didn't explain why you could see it! And maybe that's exactly what they had in mind, to make it a preview of coming attractions. That would fit both the Batman cliffhangers and the movie theme of the next post.
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Jun 23, 2017 - 1:13am
Just a FYI Adam West’s last performance, which is in the TV show Powerless just became available. Unfortunately Powerless was canceled and the episode will not air on broadcast TV. But it is available to Hulu subscribers and also for free on YouTube. 
Mark Hunter Added Jun 23, 2017 - 7:16pm
I just heard -- I really liked that show, too. Will check it out.

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