Holy Golden Anniversary Batman!
The 1966 Batman television series has become a touch stone in pop culture history. Running from 1966 to 1968, the show became a phenomenon, boosting comic book sales and ” resonated with the ironically detached ‘camp’ movement of the era” [Rossen.2014]. 50 years later you can see its impact everywhere. It’s been referenced in countless other series, become a quintessential idea to the general public as to what a comic book is, and has provided hours of enjoyment for the young and the old, the comic fanatic and the novice.
Despite the popular consensus of laughing at it compared to the ‘dark’, ‘gritty’ and ‘realistic’ Nolan films of recent years (actually, you should be laughing at it, it’s a damn funny series), the 66 series not only helped to save the Batman comic books, “but it turned him into a global superstar” [Diaz. 2012]. When you consider just how comics were viewed in the post war 50’s and 60’s, the fact that a show like Batman could be made, let alone last for 3 seasons and 120 episodes, is astonishing. Unlike our modern interpretations, “it walked the line between sincerity and parody” [Rossen. 2014], creating a culture all its own and infecting the general consciousness. For many, it was their introduction to the world of Batman or even comic books in general. Bringing not only Batman and Robin into countless homes, but 32 villains! From the hugely iconic Joker, Riddler, Penguin and Catwomen, to the laughable Clock King, Minstrel and False Face. As well as bringing phrases such as Biff, Bam and Pow into the public lexicon. The series was so successful at launch that despite the series having only begun in January, by the Summer a feature film was pushed into theatres, using many of the same sets and props. Though it’s worth noting that the Film was in fact originally intended to be produced before the series to introduce the Batman series to the general public. This allowed some of the props and vehicles to be reused in the series due to the films slightly higher budget.
Despite the series long lasting impact, it’s hard to believe just how long it took for the series to come to DVD and Blu-ray, much to the joy of many long time fans and collectors. The first ‘official’ collection wasn’t even released to the public. In fact the first and only tapes of all 120 episodes, were created by Fox for a post-Star Wars Mark Hamill. Coincidentally enough, Hamill would go on to become what is considered the quintessential Joker voice actor, almost 30 years later. ” Home-video distribution didn’t exist when the series was produced” [Rossen.2014] and even when attempts were made in the 90’s, Fox and Warner Bros. were “at odds” [Rossen.2014] when it came to home distribution rights and the legal problems that would come from handing it over to a third party. In the case of the 90’s, Columbia were the ones most interested in distributing the series. Thankfully by 2014, the series is now widely available and easy to access.
In recent years, the series has most noticeably been revisited by the ‘Batman 66’ Comic Book, revisiting the plot, style and characters of the original series with their own 60’s art inspired flare. The just announced Lego 66 Batman Batcave, and the soon to be released Batman 66 Animated movie are adding more and more to the pop culture phenomenon. The legacy of the series is destined to continue in the hearts, minds and media of all those that have been touched by it, weather directly or in directly.
Here’s to another 50 years!
- Carpenter, N. (2016) Lego Batman ’66 set officially revealed. [Online] IGN. 12th January. Available from: http://uk.ign.com/articles/2016/01/12/lego-batman-66-set-officially-revealed [Last Accessed: 12/01/2016]
- Diaz, E. (2012) How the 1960’s Batman Television series helped save Batman. [Online]. Geek Scape. Available from: http://www.geekscape.net/how-the-1960s-batman-television-series-helped-save-batman. [Last Accessed: 12/01/2016]
- Neumyer, S. (2014) A visual guide to all 37 villains in the Batman TV series. [Online] Metal Floss. 21st November. Available from: http://mentalfloss.com/article/60213/visual-guide-all-37-villains-batman-tv-series [Last Accessed: 12/01/2016]
- Roach, A. (2015) ‘Batman’ 1966 TV show getting animated movie adaptation for 50th anniversary. [Online] Screen Rant. 30th March. Available from: http://screenrant.com/batman-1960s-tv-show-animated-movie/ [Last Accessed: 12/01/2016]
- Rossen, J. (2014) Why we’re just now getting the 1960’s Batman TV show on DVD. [Online] Wired. 4th November. Available from: http://www.wired.com/2014/11/batman-home-video-finally/ [Last Accessed: 12/01/2016]
- http://static1.squarespace.com/static/51b3dc8ee4b051b96ceb10de/t/53d7c823e4b01cdbaa080cac/1406650404099/ [Last Accessed: 12/01/2016]
- http://www.nerdoverload.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/batman-tv-dvd-cover.png [Last Accessed: 12/01/2016]