Since 1943, the Dark Knight Detective has appeared on the silver screen a dozen times (13 is you include THE LEGO MOVIE). There is no true agreement on what the best Batman movie is, each one is the favorite of someone. Well, maybe not BATMAN & ROBIN, but you get what I’m saying. Some people love the Tim Burton BATMAN, some people will swear up and down that Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT is the best in all the world. Me? I say BATMAN ‘66 is the one, true, great Batman movie. Here I will give you five reasons. Some of these reasons may exist in the other 11 Batman movies, but none of the other films have all five of these reasons. Ready? Atomic batteries to power. Turbines to speed!
Right To The Point
BATMAN 66 had no interest in origins. The TV series it came from had no interest in origins. It wasn’t important why Batman was fighting crime. It didn’t matter why Joker looked the way he did. What mattered was the overall feel. BATMAN 66 is fun, it starts fast, and it never lets up. Every five minutes, Batman and Robin are on to another location, solving another clue, dealing with another trap or gang of thugs. It never stops to give the audience time to wonder why Batman has shark repellent. You just flow with it.
Every moment of the movie is filled with excitement. From the opening credits to the final seconds, Batman, Robin, Joker, Riddler, and the others are rushing about, fighting and running and plotting. Batman goes from his car to his helicopter to his boat to his motorcycle in the course of ten minutes. Speaking off… on to number two!
The 66 Batmobile is iconic for a reason, it is straight up amazing looking. Who wouldn’t want that car? You know whoever is driving that thing is a real badass, a real cool cat (or Bat as it were). Sadly, we all tend to ignore the other great vehicles Batman has in the movie.
The Batcopter is so cool looking, with the wings and the bright red body. Whenever I watch the movie, I wonder how strange it would have been to live in Los Angels when they filmed the helicopter scenes for the movie. To look up and see that thing flying over the city would be a great moment indeed.
The Batcycle is, without a doubt, boss. Sleek as hell, with it’s black and white coloring, the red bat symbol boldly pops out at you, aggressive yet comforting, because you know Batman is on your side. Even Robin gets some love with his logo placed onto the side-car. How Robin had to ride on the thing though was pretty embarrassing.
And the boat. The Batboat is just perfect. Why does it have flames painted on the sides? Because that shit is cool, that’s why. The back fin, made to resemble a batwing, screams speed. The whole boat looks exactly like the kind of thing any of us would want if we happened to be millionaire capitalists.
I love these vehicles, and I’m not a vehicle guy (I don’t even drive).
Detective And Science Work
Batman does actual detective work in this movie. He and Robin go to the scene of a crime and look for fingerprints. He solves riddles (though he lets Robin take the credit for it) and he takes in his surroundings to better battle evil.
On the science end, this Batman instantly figures out that the re-hydration with hard water of Penguin’s thugs made them unstable, leading to them popping into anti-matter. Later, we see Bats carefully using his his science equipment to saves the lives of the dehydrated dignitaries. Yes, he has the Batcomputer to help him, but most of the work is done by Batman himself.
While I’ve made it clear in the past that I’m no fan of Know-It-All Batman, I do love a Batman who can do the work of the old pulp heroes that he was birthed from, and this Batman does it.
We Like Batman and Robin
This sounds obvious, but in most Batman movies, Batman tends to be the weakest character. He’s flat to the point of being nearly one dimensional. He talks all goofy, and he just hits things. Here, with BATMAN ‘66, we see a Batman, and a Bruce Wayne, who has real emotions. When the thugs in the Batcave turn into anti-matter, Batman (and Robin) take a moment to mourn their deaths. It isn’t their fault, they had no control over what happened, but you can see that this Batman feels responsible for it.
We also get to see a Batman who has friends, and even family. The comradery between Batman and Robin is so clear – they have a friendship built on trust, respect, and love – that you can’t help but feel a part of it as well. These are characters that you root for not because the bad guys are so bad, but because the good guys are so good.
Without BATMAN ‘66, There Would Be No Batman Today (Maybe)
We’ll get the facts out of the way first – without this version of Batman, we likely wouldn’t know who Catwoman and Riddler are today.
Before BATMAN ‘66, Catwoman hadn’t appeared in a comic for nearly 20 years. DC pocketed her away during the whole SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT/Comics Code years because she was, in their opinion, too damn sexy for kids. Then, they kind of forgot all about her. When the writers of the BATMAN series and movie were looking for interesting baddies, they came across Catwoman and tossed her in. Even more, the look we tend to think of for Catwoman these days, the skin-tight bodysuit, came from BATMAN 66. Before that, she looked like this:
The Riddler was also a character that was useless in the comics. It was BATMAN 66, and Frank Gorshin, who turned a C-level villain into one of Batman’s most infamous archrivals. Without BATMAN ‘66, what collectibles would we have searched all over for in the ARKHAM games?
Now, to the less sure “fact” according to some, including Batman creator Bob Kane, DC was seriously considering cancelling the BATMAN comic before the show hit. The comic was selling around 350,000 copies a month, which by today’s numbers would be a massive success in the comics business, but in the mid-60s, wasn’t all that great. For reference, SUPERMAN was selling over a million copies every month. After BATMAN ‘66 showed up on TV sets and hit the big screen, sales of the comic skyrocketed past Superman, making Batman the number one seller for DC. If the cancellation rumors are true, then without BATMAN ‘66, we may never have had Tim Burton’s BATMAN, the Nolan trilogy, the 90s animated series, or a host of other Batman comics, toys and games.
I could give you a list of 200 reasons why BATMAN ‘66 is the best Batman movie, but I’m not going to. Get the blu ray, sit down and watch it. You’ll find 200 reasons to love it that are all your own.
*Photos: 20th Century Fox Television, Warner Brothers, DC Comics