Okay, that wasn’t an actual quote from the 1966 Batman movie, but it might as well have been. I haven’t seen this one in, like, a decade and . . . wow. Just, wow.
People, I have a new standard for ridiculous.
*Spoilers. Sorry. Couldn’t be helped.*
Before I get into the notes . . . of which I have many . . . I need to tell you a little bit about my childhood understanding of Batman. See, this movie and the TV show both came out in the 1960′s—I watched reruns late at night with Mekaela while our mom worked graveyards–I’d say I was about four or five? Then Tim Burton’s Batman came out in 1989—I was right about four at that point too. Batman Returns came out in 1992, and Batman Forever hit theaters in 1995—it’s really one of the first movies I remember going to see in theatre. I also watched Batman: The Animated Series pretty religiously until I was ten years old.
These are all pretty radically different interpretations of Batman—campy, noir, carnivalesque, grim, gothic, neon—and I accepted them pretty much simultaneously, so, to me, they’re all the right version. In fact, the only Batman I didn’t like as a kid was George Clooney, and honestly, there are so many problems with that movie, I don’t even think Clooney’s performance hits Top Three Worst Things About The Film.
My point is, almost every Batman geek I know wants you to choose between campy Batman and gritty Batman, and while I do have a favorite (Christian Bale, if you were curious) I really like both the tragic and the ridiculous versions of the dark knight, and I feel absolutely no need to choose between the two of them as Gospel.
Of course, some incarnations are slightly more ridiculous than others.
1.) The Bat Factor–
Everything in this movie is “Bat Something,” and I do mean everything. There’s the Batboat, the Batcopter, the Batrope. There’s the Batgas and the Batawake. My personal favorite is the Shark Repellant Bat Spray—think how different Jaws could have been, if only Amity Island had been selling that along with their sunscreen.
I’m just saying, you know Bruce has to have a Batthong, a Batwhip, and a Batcondom hidden somewhere in that cave of his. (And, obviously, Robin knows where they all are.)
And while we’re speaking of batcondoms . . .
2.) Adam West delivering love poetry is easily the squickiest thing I’ve seen on film all year, and I’ve watched May AND Prime Evil. I mean, first, he goes with Poe, and it’s a very individual woman who looks to be serenaded with the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe. Sure, Annabel Lee’s romantic and all, but it’s a touch depressing and inappropriate on a first date. Bruce’s choice of “To One in Paradise” isn’t really all that much better, considering it’s about how the speaker is all lost and pathetic now that his lover is gone and quite possibly dead. Of course, some girls do go for the creepy poetry, so it might have been acceptable . . . had it not been for the delivery, which . . . eep! EEEEEP!
Adam West, I would take Vogon poetry over this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G47ywNHcd4I
3.) Bruce may spout horrendous romantic poetry because he has, inexplicably, fallen madly in love with Miss Kitka in about, oh, an hour . . . but he looks like he’s in physical pain when he’s kissing her in the hotel room. Also, when he discovers that Miss Kitka is actually Catwoman (oh noes!) Bruce’s Angst Face could easily be mistaken for Slightly Brain Damaged Face. Serious, he looks like an aneurysm might actually be bursting in his head as he angsts away. It’s less Oh, I’m So Sad, I’m So Very, Very Sad, and more I Might Have A Slight Case of Catatonia Here.
4.) Also . . . Batman might have early onset Alzheimer’s. I know, that’s harsh. An aneurysm and Alzheimer’s? But if you haven’t watched the film recently, go watch it again and notice how everything under the sun is labelled in that house. My personal favorite of the Unnecessary Labels? Access to Batcave Via Batpole. I mean, it’s not like the label is directing you to where the Batpole is (not that Batman should need that in his own crib). The label is literally beside the Batpole, pointing it out.
I can only assume there is also one for the Battoilet and the Batporn Collection. I wonder if Alfred’s the one who puts those handy signs up.
5.) As you might imagine, it takes a bit to stun me into silence—I might be surprised or horrified, sure, but I usually come up with something at least halfway snarky pretty quickly, or at least I like to think so—but Batman stunned me into silence not once, not twice, but three times, where even the words “What the fuck” wouldn’t quite come.
Moment A: Batman is attacked by a shark.
Said shark actually gnaws on Batman’s leg for about five whole minutes. Thankfully, Batman is . . . impervious to shark teeth, I guess? . . . and suffers no damage of any kind. Hell, he doesn’t even limp when he gets back on solid ground.
And they say Batman has no superpowers.
Moment B: The Dolphin
See, Batman and Robin are about to be blown to kingdom come by a torpedo, and (oh noes again!) suddenly there’s an explosion! Was that it? Were our heroes finally defeated? You’ll be relieved, I’m sure, to find out that they have miraculously escaped. But how, you might ask? Well, Robin explains it for you: it was all thanks to that “noble, almost-human porpoise” who jumped in and sacrificed its life for the caped crusaders.
Yep, kids. Batman just blew up a freaking dolphin.
Who wants seafood for dinner?
Moment C: The Logic Behind The Riddler’s Riddles
And believe it or not, that actually wasn’t the riddle that broke my brain.
Just for a day, I’d like to live in this Batman universe. Maybe not even a day; maybe just an afternoon. I want to live in a world where logic goes like this:
“What has yellow skin and writes?”
“A ballpoint banana.”
“What people are always in a hurry?”
“Rushing people . . . Russians!”
“So this means . . . “
“Someone Russian is going to slip on a banana and break their neck!”
Just one afternoon. That’s all I ask.
6.) Batman is one trusting bastard. He leaves his Batmobile out in the open where anyone could steal it. His Batboat is floating out at some random dock . . . sure, it’s isolated, but there’s absolutely nothing hiding it from view, either. He does make some attempt to hide his Batbike with adjoining sidecar, at least . . . it’s in a cleverly disguised bundle of weeds on the side of the road. Good thinking, Batman. Good thinking.
7.) Speaking of clever disguises . . . thank God Alfred wears a black half-mask when he’s driving the Batmobile. Otherwise, everyone in Gotham would notice that this old guy is driving the Batmobile!
8.) Clearly, no one’s taking this movie seriously . . . I don’t think they could have made this movie more campy if they tried . . . and clearly any sense of realism went out the window with the exploding shark attack, but . . . man, when the actors fight, those punches don’t even come close to landing. Adam West’s fist is like a foot away from the henchman’s face, and yet he flies backwards anyway. In related news, I’ve barely stopped giggling to breathe throughout this entire movie.
9.) You know what I really need for Christmas this year? An Instant Costume Change Button. Labelled, of course.
10.) All right, henchmen. It’s time for a chat.
You must know, getting into your line of work, that the likelihood of your dying from old age is slim to none. Admittedly, you have a much better chance in a film like this than, say, being a henchmen on the Death Star or something . . . but still, dying young is a definitely possibility in the career of Evil Flunky, and I imagine that most of you are somewhat resigned to this inevitability.
That being said, when the Big Bad lines you and four of your buddies up in a row, faces you against a strange looking device, and tells you not to worry because he’s only going to “temporarily extract every bit of moisture from your body” . . . well, I’d worry. But, you’re a henchmen, right? You go with the flow . . . right up to the point where Henchman A turns into a big pile of dust, and then you’re supposed to say, “Sayonara, bitches! Big pile of dust is where I draw the fucking line!” And if you’re not going to do that, could you at least be bothered to look slightly alarmed?
A small sense of survivalism is all I ask, you guys.
11.) Here’s a general bit of advice: if you know some dude you met is actually a supervillain in disguise . . . don’t take him to your lair. I mean, seriously? It’s like Inept Versus Slightly More Inept, this movie.
12.) Finally, the United World Headquarters . . . first, I don’t care how deeply invested in an argument I was, I think I’d notice four masked people entering the room, particularly when they started disintegrating other people into colorful dust. (I’d like to think I’d be black-cherry colored dust, myself.)
Secondly, Batman and Robin have to put the council back together again, and they do—except that each member of the council now speaks the wrong language (ie, the Japanese man speaks French, the French man speaks Spanish, etc. etc.) Batman bullshits something about inadvertently doing the world a bit of good, which a, no, no, you fuck up, you didn’t; you actually just stripped someone of their language, like, there’s a whole cultural problem with that, and b, even if that was a good thing, isn’t that basically what Robin wanted to do before you batslapped him for the idea of fucking with nature? What, it’s only okay if you do it by accident? Batman, you’re an asshole.
Maybe Batman recognizes this because he and Robin decide to leave inconspicuously . . . and by inconspicuously, I mean out through the open window. Because nothing says stealth like two full grown men in masks and capes scaling the side of a federal building in the middle of the day.
In conclusion: BWAHAHAHAHA.
Grade: uhhhh . . . how does one grade a movie like this? It achieves everything it’s supposed to, and I giggled a lot while watching it. Er, let’s just call it spectacularly ridiculous and leave it at that.
Moral: Somedays, you just can’t get rid of a bomb!