Over the years we have seen many reiterations of the Dark Knight. Tall, brooding and tragically serious, but that wasn’t always the case. The Batman of yesteryear (1966) was fun, always cracking jokes, and made crime fighting spirited. In a world of Zack Synder’s depressing color palettes and Ben Affleck’s silent angry stares, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is the hero Gotham deserves, and the one it needs right now.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Batman TV show, we can once again (or some of us for the first time) bask in the greatness that is Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar. This all-new animated movie adventure is set in the campy, pop-art Gotham city. Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is more than an homage, it’s a love letter carefully wrapped in perfection, and layered with smart humor. This gem was created by genius director Rick Morales and flawless writing from Michael Jelenic and James Tucker.
Caped Crusaders is downright corny, the corniest corn that’s ever existed, but because of the way it’s executed everything works, making for one of the best animated movies of the year. At its core, it’s completely absurd, and ridiculous. However, the writers truly understand Batman way more than any other Batman production (#batarangshotsfired). Because of this, they were able to bring out Batman’s true essence and craft an entirely different genre around him — so much so that 50 years later, Batman and Adam West are just as important as today’s Batman.
In this movie, the audience sees not just Batman the crime fighter, but the “World’s Greatest Detective” actually solving crimes, this time with mind-blowing leaps of logic and time consuming respect of the law — even during crosswalks (Batman takes jaywalking very seriously). Scenes are hilarious built around his ability to showcase his fighting skills, chemistry knowledge, and the arts.
Armed with Shark Repellent Bat-Spray, Bat Anti-Antidote, Bat Anti-Anti-Antidote, Bat Knockout Gas and Bat Wake-Up Gas, the writers are able to take the story, battles, and locations to new heights. It is here where the writing is at its funniest. The humor leaps off the screen with finesse and naughtiness. Sexuality is at full display without any of the characters being sleazy. There are frequent drugging and Bill Cosby Rohypnols jokes that help further the plot rather than make you cringe. Batman and Robin are out to stop Joker, Catwoman, Penguin and The Riddler but things become more complicated when a long-standing enemy becomes their frenemy. Can they trust this alley, especially with Robin’s hormones raging and Batman being the most desirable man alive?
Despite the multitude of characters, the film gives each of them plenty of screen-time. Julie Newmar shines as Catwoman, bringing grace and class to role. Unlike Barbara Gordon in 2016’s The Killing Joke, Catwoman is intelligent, independent and a true feminist. There’s no whining and moody temper-tantrums; she is in all essence a woman and carries out the role with sophistication while exuding sexuality (similar to Sophia Loren) to hilarity.
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is a movie to be treasured that will please everyone in the family. Its effortless writing is married with perfect casting. There are tons of surprises and cameo appearances that will have audiences clamoring for more; which is a good thing since a sequel was announced starring William Shatner as Two-Face.
The movie is available to own now on Digital HD, and will release on November 1 on Blu-ray and DVD.