World War 2 Batman
In 1943, it was the very first time we got to see the Batman series. Only 15 episodes were commissioned and the public reacted well. While WW2 was in full swing, Batman had his hands busy as well fighting Nazis and Mad Japanese scientists. Lewis Wilson was the superhero costumed to lead the way of justice along side Robin of course, played by Douglas Croft. It had a few veteran actors of the time star as well and with it being in Black and White, the mood infused was a quick gasp of justice, coherent of the stylings of the time. The budget was tight but the action on offer was of a genuine nature. Since television was a novelty of the time, Saturdays afternoons saw large crowds of merry people gather in theaters to watch their much beloved hero defend truth and put the thugs away.
Post World War Batman
It was 1949 and the people were ever so eager to see their hero in action again.15 more episodes were produced but this time the show was called The New Adventures of Batman and Robin .With the world trying to find peace, the racist lexicons allowed in the 1943 version like Japs and Jerries was omitted and Batman played by Robert Lowery leaped into action. It was still a low budget concept but the story introduced many of the elements we know today like Commissioner Gordon and the Bat signal for example. Even Vicky Vale was there.
This is most probably the first Batman most of us remember. William Dozzier in 1966 set out to make a very entertaining show featuring Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin. The comic books were purged and all the villains lined up each week to be fowled by our hero. Studios went all out to dazzle the viewers with Cesar Romero playing the Joker and Lee Meriwether playing a very sexy Catwoman. Although the show did not take itself seriously with it oriented towards a 14 and under audience, adults were easily amused as well at the absurdity of a Bat -Belt that had everything and Batman’s groovy dancing with his villains. Despite it all, everybody was there, same bat-channel, same bat-time, week in and week out. Surely, everybody on that show looked like they were high on something to be always that retro and always gay about everything.
After that ridiculous but fun version of the 1966 Caped Crusader and his chum, many could find solace in the Batman championed in the comics. They liked the idea of a superhero who was more into serious crime fighting and this is what Warner Bros did in 1989. Micheal Keaton donned new colors and an impressive arsenal of gadgets to make this movie pg 13. The dark tone of the movie was set and given to master director Tim Burton but he seemingly surpassed himself with the villain Joker stealing the show. Played by Jack Nicholson brilliantly, the jokes adequately fit the character like a glove. This version without sidekick Robin was well received and broke box office records for that year and many people could say Batman looked cool in his new black attire. Let’s not forget that Vicky Vale was hot as well and could shout convincingly. To this date, it is the most profitable Batman movie with a near return of 620% on production capital invested.
After the big box office receipts and the whole year buzz, Batman was once on the lips of everyone and everything from cereals to imported shoes. Tim Burton was given the luxury to sequelize his chef d’oeuvre and although the movie was filmed entirely on 27 studios with no outside real world shots, the abundant and rich cast of Christopher Walken, Danny Devito, Michele Pfeiffer instigated the Batman formula of more than one super villain with a less than mysterious but cooperative and friendlier Batman. If some sensed the traits of the old cape crusader returning, the irony of the title of course, was Micheal Keaton really trying to bring the Adam West days back in some way. Again the villains stole the show but the story traits were moving into a much more familiar territory than before. Nonetheless, the box office talked again with a generous cash intake but it failed to surpass the 1989 version in many other areas. Tim’s sixth sense led him to pass the reigns to Joel Schumacher and Keaton jumped ship after reading the script for Batman Forever, even refusing 35M$ to star.
For part 2 of this story : www.beepwire.com/examiner/x-32442-Montreal-Film-Examiner~y2010m4d21-Batmans-Cinematic-Evolution-Pt-2