These days our heroes seem to dress in nothing but dark tones. Which is perhaps why the breezy fun of Batman: Return Of the Caped Crusaders is so damn appealing.
Batman has always been a hero for the ages: re-sculpted to suit the mood and mindset of its audience. Caped Crusaders takes its cue from the 1960s Batman comics and the classic TV series it spawned.
Debuting in 1966, the series starred Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and a superlative cast of villains played by the likes of Burgess Meredith (Penguin), Frank Garshin (Riddler), Caesar Romero (Riddler) and three iconic Catwomen (Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether.) Known for its camp style, satirical humour and upbeat theme the show was, at the time, an accurate reflection of the comics, with their pop art visuals, OTT story-telling and cheesy dialogue. The genius, of course, was in the show’s delivery. Adam West’s deadpan performance was a tightrope walk – earnest enough to engage children and dry enough to keep the adults smirking.
Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders is a pitch perfect return to the halcyon days of bat-bazookas, corny riddles and appealingly apposite alliterative affirmations. West, Ward and Newmar return to the roles that they made their own and, while their voices may have aged, the fun is in the fact that gang’s all back together. The script is laugh out loud funny, engaging and thought-provoking: playing nicely with the Bat-legacy.
[Spoilers] When Catwoman doses Batman with the equivalent of red kryptonite we all get to see just who the man is – or could be – under that cowl. And, when you hear a ‘60s psychedelic Batman voicing a ‘90s Dark Knight lines, it’s enough to elicit a little mental fist punch.
Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders can be summed up with just one word: masterful. From the opening comic book montage to the closing Bat-dance credits, Caped Crusaders is simply the best Batman in years. And that’s no Holy Superlative, Batman.