Duh-duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh-duh — BAT-MAAAN! This hastily thrown-together feature, released during the TV show’s peak of popularity, is every somber Bat-nerd’s worst nightmare; the show single-handedly took the blame for the general public’s view of comic books (and Batman) as campy kid’s stuff. (Then Joel Schumacher made his Batman films thirty years later and turned them into … campy kid’s stuff.) Actually, the deadpan idiocy of the movie and the show isn’t too far from the Batman comics of the ’50s and ’60s – the ones with huge, stupid props, groaning puns, and (shudder) Bat-Hound. At the time, this was possibly the most accurate adaptation of the comics as they existed back then. Take it up with Julius Schwartz, nerds.
As you’d expect, this movie is as dumb as a box of hair, but God, is it fun — a perfect guilty pleasure. It opens with Batman (stolid, flabby Adam West) and Robin (Dan Quayle lookalike and future sleazy sex-memoirist Burt Ward) rushing to the defense of a troubled yacht. They fly their Bat-Copter over the ship, lowering Batman over the water on a ladder. But Robin, piloting the copter, flies too low and dunks Batman knee-deep into the ocean. When Batman comes up again, there’s a ridiculous rubber shark hanging from his leg! Shouts Batman, “Hand me down the Shark Repellent Bat-Spray!” — and we’re off and running.
The plot, if you care, has the familiar “Rogues’ Gallery” – the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), and Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) – plotting to kill Batman with “an exploding octopus” and take over the world. Highly recommended, and a damn sight more entertaining than Schumacher’s Batman movies. With Alan Napier, Neil Hamilton, Madge Blake, and Reginald Denny. From the screenwriter of the equally campy King Kong and Flash Gordon remakes.