(A lot of folks are hurtin’ right now…Here’s Prince Adam’s personal take on Mr. West’s passing. Thanks for sharing this with us, Super Friend. 🙂 xoxo)
The world lost some of its light last weekend as Adam West, better known as TV’s Batman left this world after a brief battle with Leukemia. Those who know me, know that I love Batman and have since my childhood. It’s also true, that Michael Keaton and Tim Burton rocketed my Batman fandom forward, with the release of Batman & Batman Returns. However. You know that age old saying, you never forget your first? It’s true, even when discussing Batman. Given my age, and my self-professed love of the Keaton and Burton era, you’d think that Batman would be my first. However, you’d be wrong. My first Batman was indeed Adam West, via syndicated reruns. Watching that show created a ritual in my house. It became part of my after school ritual. I’d come home, my mom would have milk and cookies waiting for me and I was allowed to watch Batman, before getting to my homework.
Sure, now I know that show was chalk full of tongue in cheek humor120, but back then, I took it dead seriously. While Adam West keyed adults into the humor with his delivery and slight vocal inflections, he still played it 100% honest for the kids. When I was a kid, Adam West’s Batman costume was the most comic book to screen accurate I had ever seen! I wanted one of my own and as an adult I still do. The other thing I liked, was that Bruce Wayne conformed to the stereotypes I had of rich people at the time. He lived in a mansion, had a servant, went to parties, even holding gala’s himself. He even went fishing with Dick Grayson. Though, those fishing trips would often be a ruse, for explaining away their Batman duty. What I loved as a kid, were the little life lessons Batman would give Robin, and by extension us the viewer. Whether it be walking an older lady across the street, paying for parking, wearing your seatbelt and yes, the dangers of jay walking. Adam West as Batman gave us all the essential advice and advocated drinking milk and eating vegetables. Batman with Adam West under the cowl, reaffirmed all our parents’ teachings. He was essentially our uncle. And come on, who wouldn’t want Batman as their uncle. When you think about it, Adam West was the first live action Batman to highlight his detective aspects. Every week, he would comb through the evidence of a case with the bat-computer, other gadgets and the help of Alfred and Robin. The detective aspect of Batman was barely present in Batman 1989 or Returns, it was nowhere to be found in Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. Hints of it were found in The Dark Knight Trilogy, with the caveat that it was largely all done by Alfred & Lucius Fox. There was a decent sample size of detective Batman in BvS, which was carried equally between him and Alfred. However, Adam West as Batman carried the torch of that character trait in bulk, from 1966 to 2016.
As an adult some of the best aspects of Adam’s performance is in his flirtation with Catwoman and specifically the will they/won’t they aspect of the relationship because he sides with the law, while she has criminal tendencies. What’s impressive, is that Adam West has the same heat and chemistry with all 3 Catwoman, so that even though the actress changed, the relationship maintains its history and so believing that all 3 actresses were the same Catwoman was an easy ask of the audience. The way the relationship between the Bat & the Cat were portrayed here and their interactions, still serves as the backbone of that relationship to this day. Some of Adam West’s best pure Batman superhero moments came against The Joker and The Riddler. Adam West an Caesar Romero were electric and in a tamer way, you never really knew what would go down between the two. Also, no matter how many times you see it, Adam West and Frank Gorshin verbally sparring with riddles and answers never gets tiresome. Most people will say their favorite Adam West moments rage between getting rid of a bomb, Bat-Shark repellent, and a surfing contest with The Joker, or even Adam West doing the Batusi. For me it’s the scene where Bruce Wayne is having a 3 way phone call with Batman and Commissioner Gordon to discuss funds transfer for a ransom payment. Seeing Adam West alternate between the Wayne Manor house phone and that red Bat phone, altering his voice to fit the appropriate character, depending on what phone he was holding was hilarious. It also shows West’s acting talent, his range and the level of nuance he could achieve.
For years, specifically in the mid 80’s this series was shunned by Batman fans as not a valid interpretation. The problem with that line of thinking. Is that it and Adam’s version of Batman, are a valid interpretation. This version of Batman is replicating and mimicking the comics from the 50’s and the 60’s. The tone look and color pallet at that point are the same. It’s also worth noting that this series saved the Batman comic books. DC was considering cancelling the books, but Bat mania began as a result of the show, bringing interest and popularity back to the comic books. I’m so happy Adam West was around long enough to see Bat mania 2.0 to return for his series, when the show became available on Blu-Ray. In addition, they sold toys, based on the look and iconography of the show. Things came full circle for me, one night at my sisters house. The adults were enjoying coffee and cake, while the kids watched TV. Suddenly, my nephews came in excitedly because a “New” Batman show was on TV! They had never seen it before! So I explained that I used to watch it, when I was their age. So I went down to their toy room and experienced their first time seeing Adam West as Batman. It was a beautiful moment. PS: They loved it! Honestly, I think I’m going to do retro reviews of the Batman TV series here periodically. I’ve got the itch. Unfortunately for us here on Earth, heaven needed a Batman, so Adam West will watch over the citizens of Gotham from above! Thank you for being my first Batman & the memories and for being a piece of what turned out to be a great childhood. I’ll miss you but I’ll never forget you!! Rest In Peace old chum!