DVD Reviews

Published on October 11th, 2016 | by Lauren Bycroft

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Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders premiered on Night 1 of New York Comic Con to palpable joy and roaring laughter.

The new animated film which marks the return of Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar to the cowl, tunic, and cat suit is a remarkably witty and worthy counterpart to the live action film and television series of the 60s. Despite a touch of unevenness with Newmar’s Catwoman, the movie is an incredibly well managed piece of nostalgic and still modern filmmaking.

Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are home at Wayne Manor relaxing, taking a break from fighting crime when their regularly scheduled television programming is interrupted by none other than The Penguin, Joker, Riddler, and Catwoman. What follows is a meta and self-aware adventure featuring double crosses, triple crosses, alliterative quips, and enough holy this and that exclamations from Robin to shake a stick at.

Oh, and don’t forget the Bat Rocket! The film contains a lot of interesting and unexpected character dynamics, the paring of Robin and Catwoman is particularly fun and unexpected though it leads to a weird tone deaf moment. Robin, about to take Catwoman to the Bat Cave informs her that she’ll need to be unconscious as to avoid revealing the location. Before he mists her with Bat Sleep Spray she says, “I trust you’ll keep your hands to yourself.” Instead of the very moral and upright Robin protesting that he would never do such a thing he leers at her for a second, taking in her body in particular, and then shakes it off.

It’s an odd moment concerning a female character that is otherwise written with agency that goes toe to toe with all the powerful men around her.

I spoke with the director, writers, and star of Return of the Caped Crusaders before the film’s premiere and it was evident how much affection they had for the 60s incarnation and how confident they were in what they had created. While they all felt that there was room for both the serious Batman of the current live action films and the more humorous Batman of West’s making to coexist, director Rick Morales in particular felt that this was the perfect time for the 60s Batman to make his return and I have to agree.

It was a nice change of pace to laugh at Batman’s exploits without the film losing credibility. James Tucker and Michael Jelenic, producers and writers of the film, worked together previously on Batman: The Brave and the Bold which harkened back to the West’s incarnation. Additionally they both spoke about the silver age comics of the 50s as a major influence on both the West television show and their new animated film.

Overall, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is a welcome change from the dark incarnations created by Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder. It’s a fun, sincere, smartly written film that the whole family can enjoy. While it pays homage to the Batman of decades past it doesn’t feel hokey or out of place in a modern age that has given us three more incarnations of the Caped Crusader since West’s tenure.

Watching the film, it’s hard to believe West is 88 years old and last donned the cowl and tights 50 years ago. After a one night only premiere in theaters on October 10, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders will come to digit platforms on Tuesday, October 11, and DVD and blu-ray on November 1.

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