Holy EASTER EGGS! Plus: PODCAST ALERT!
It’s time to put a bow on Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders.
We’ve given a 13 QUICK THOUGHTS review (click here) and discussed it in broad strokes on The Batcave Podcast (click here). We’ve also gloried in the announcement that William Shatner will be in the sequel (click here). And, we’ve taken a SNEAK PEEK at Batman vs. Two-Face, courtesy of Ms. Newmar (click here).
I was a guest on John S. Drew’s show, along with fellow Batophiles Ben Bentley and Billy Flynn and we really went deep on the movie: The goods, the bads, the interestings. I think it’s fair to call it a pretty definitive discussion so I really encourage you to download it on iTunes or listen to it here or here.
Still, I did want to highlight some of my favorite moments of the movie, the colorful bits and pieces that added an extra level of POW! and were essential to making Return of the Caped Crusaders the success it is. Some of these are obvious, others are Easter eggs. All are fun.
So here are THE 13 BEST MOMENTS OF THE BATMAN ’66 ANIMATED FILM — RANKED:
13. Mayor Batman. Now Adam West is the mayor of two great cities.
12. What’s In a Name?I wasn’t surprised when I heard Lorenzo Semple Jr.and William Dozier — the show’s dominant creative forces — referenced. But I was surprised that Charles Fitzsimons, the show’s associate producer, got as much “screen time” as he did as the namesake of the TV-dinner factory. (Unfortunately, the animators spelled his name wrong.)
11. The Riddler’s Henchman. Frank Gorshin’s Riddler never had henchmen who wore consistent outfits, unlike Catwoman, the Penguin and Joker. John Astin’s henchmen, on the other hand, wore outfits bedecked in crossword puzzles. One of those guys shows up in the movie, so that’s a nice tip of the question mark to Astin’s prince of puzzlers.
10. Batman’s Costumes. One of the things the movie was able to do was merge classic elements of the comic-book Batcave with the TV show version, the T-Rex and the Joker playing card among the trophies on display. But my favorite was the costumes in their glass cases. One of them is obvious: It’s the first costume, from Detective Comics #27. The other was from one of the ’40s serials — which helped inspire the show.
9. Keaton, Bale and Miller in the House. Beyond being an homage, the movie is a commentary on light and dark Batman — and the laughs come fast and furious when Batman exclaims “Let’s get nuts!” a la Keaton, and proclaims himself “the surgeon” like Miller’s Dark Knight. Just as funny is when Catwoman muses that her perfect future is retiring to Europe with Batman, where they can sit in a cafe and live the life of care-free dilettantes. Robin’s response? “Holy unsatisfying ending!” — a mocking reference to The Dark Knight Rises.
8. SPRANG! RIP! TORN! SPORK! BLUDGEON! Many of the fight-scene “sound effects” were particularly clever — these were my favorites — though I missed the old fonts used on the show.
7. Are They Or Aren’t They? The idea that Batman and Robinare lovers predated the show by more than a decade and the story goes that Aunt Harriet was introduced to Wayne Manor in the comics to somehow combat the notion. In Return of the Caped Crusaders, Aunt Harriet’s not only smarter than her live-action counterpart, she seems particulatly intent on revealing what Bruce and Dick have been up to on their “fishing trips.” And it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with them being superheroes.
6. A Villainous Arsenal. The bad guys’ bad stuff gets plenty of attention, with many a call-back to the show and ’66 movie). Among my faves were the jet umbrella and the Penguin’s blimp (similiar to both his movie submarine and a blimp from a Golden Age comic). I also dug how Robin was snared by Catwoman — with a trapdoor in a nightclub, mixing together two Cat-traps from the show.
5. Filmation Sensation. When the colors of Robin’s chest emblem “mistakenly” switched from yellow-on-black to black-on-yellow as it did in the cheap ’60s and ’70s animation of Filmation and Hanna-Barbera.
4. It’s In the Bag. Like #5, some of the sight gags were blink-and-you’ll miss it. When Catwoman stands atop the blimp, ready to jump with her bag of goodies, it’s a direct homage to a shot from her very first two-parter. It’s a shot that was immortalized in the View-Master set produced from the episode.
3. Three Catwomen. This got one of the biggest roars from the crowd at the New York Comic Con premiere. The only thing that would have made it better would be if they used Lee Meriwether’s likeness. They came close but the bangs made it clear the producers needed to make a distinction. Oh, well. It was still a dynamite gag.
2. The opening and closing credits. The opening credits were outstanding, using classic comics covers but featuring the Batman ’66 characters.
This is something I’ve wanted DC to do for a variant-covers month theme. You can read more about that here. And the closing dance between Batman and Catwoman felt just like this:
I’m sure that’s no accident.