Batman from the 1960’s will always be the Batman. This superhero that originated in 1940’s comic books has been depicted and re-imagined numerous times in live action form. The ’60s Batman television show remains iconic and beloved even fifty years later because of its performances, visual style, and cultural significance.
To The (Stately Wayne) Manor Born
Distinguished wealthy socialite Bruce Wayne is the daily life of the caped crusader. Becoming Batman requires first embodying Bruce Wayne. The cape, cowl, and Bat-gadgets simply build on that persona. Adam West was arguably born to be Bruce Wayne. Tall, well-spoken, and dignified, Adam West brought Bruce Wayne to life. And consider how dignified Adam West was in his personal life. In all the years since the show aired, I can’t recall even one story of Adam West being in any controversy or being rude to fans. Adam West also will always hold the title of portraying Batman more than any other actor. Lets do the math, Old Chum.
The 60’s television show had 120 half-hour episodes. Even if Batman was only on-screen for an average of 3 minutes per episode, that’s at least 360 consecutive minutes of West’s Batman. Based on total screen-time, the only actor that could possibly compete is Christian Bale. His three movies (Batman Begins, Dark Knight, Dark Knight Rises) total 356 minutes, less than West’s actual screen-time as Batman. Michael Keaton’s Batman was only in two movies (Batman, Batman Returns) that total 252 minutes. The other actors as Batman were each in only one movie (Val Kilmer’s Batman Forever, George Clooney’s Batman & Robin). In addition to television, Adam West has even more screentime as Batman in the 1966 theatrically-released Batman: The Movie. So there’s no dispute that Adam West will always be the definitive Batman.
A Sign Of The Times
Color wasn’t on a majority of primetime television shows until 1965. Batman’s introduction in 1966 gave the network an opportunity to take full advantage of color. The show is defined by its bright solid colors. And the characters were just as colorful. Burt Ward’s Dick Grayson and Robin provided the young energetic contrast to West’s nobility. The special guest villains were always played as larger-than-life by well-established actors. Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, Mad Hatter, King Tut, Egghead. These were played by Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin, Julie Newmar, Eli Wallach, David Wayne, Victor Buono, Vincent Price. A damn fine group of actors. And behind-the-scenes, you have the reality of what was going on in late 1960’s California. A counterculture revolution, sexual revolution, drug revolution, psychedelics. All of this found its way into the show in one form or another.
I discovered the ’60s Batman television show when I was a kid in the early ’80s. It was on television in syndication every day. That was years before there was ever any other Batman. I have many happy memories of watching the Batman television show. So do millions of other kids. Adam West recently passed away. However, his spirit will always live on as The Batman. And I will always think of Adam West as Batman whenever I see the bright light of the Bat-Signal.