Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, 2016.
Directed by Rick Morales.
Featuring the voice talents of Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Jeff Bergman, William Salyers, Wally Wingert, Jim Ward, Steven Weber, Thomas Lennon and Lynne Marie Stewart.
It’s back to the 1960s as Batman and Robin spring into action when Gotham City is threatened by a quartet of Batman’s most fiendish foes – Penguin, The Joker, Riddler and Catwoman.
Holy nostalgia, Batman! Fifty years after they first donned the tights as Batman and Robin, Adam West and Burt Ward reprise the roles of the Dynamic Duo for Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, a fun-filled, family-friendly love-letter to the classic 1960s TV series, and the Batman franchise as a whole.
Written by Michael Jelenic and James Tucker (Batman: The Brave and the Bold), Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders sees the Dynamic Duo out to thwart the latest dastardly scheme from their four most fearsome foes – The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin and Catwoman – who have hatched a wicked plot to turn the Caped Crusader into a supervillain and bring Gotham City to its knees by unleashing an army of Batman clones. The fiends!
Virtually all of the elements you’d expect to see from an episode of Batman ’66 are present in Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders; we’ve got Bat-Fights aplenty, Bat-Climbs, the ‘Batman Theme’ (albeit a reworked version), Alfred Pennyworth and Aunt Harriet, Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara, fiendishly far-fetched schemes from our villains, dutch angles, and cameos from some of the most beloved – and obscure – villains from the show’s Rogues Gallery. In fact, the only thing missing really is an appearance from Batgirl, and The Joker’s make-up covered moustache, but we can’t have everything, I guess.
The voice acting is for the most part is strong, although it does pain me to say that Adam West is sounding a little tired in his old age (the Mayor Adam West character from Family Guy probably hasn’t helped), but nevertheless it’s still great to hear him back in his signature role. The same can be said for Julie Newmar as Catwoman, but with Burt Ward it’s like he’s never aged a day, and his Robin is certainly the standout here. The rest of the voice cast all do admirably, particularly Jeff Bergman (The Joker), William Salyers (The Penguin) and Wally Wingert (The Riddler), who have the unenviable task of filling in for the late Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith and Frank Gorshin as the iconic villains.
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is a fine celebration of the pop culture phenomenon of Batman ’66, which perfectly captures the spirit of the original show, whilst injecting enough freshness for modern audiences. There’s some sharp, witty writing, with plenty of humour and in-jokes (both to the original show, and later interpretations such as Batman 1989 and The Dark Knight Rises), while the animation is crisp and vibrant, and looks rather glorious in 1080p.
After a few below-par releases from DC Animation recently, Return of the Caped Crusaders marks a splendid return to form, and I can’t wait to see the Dynamic Duo back together again next year as they battle William Shatner’s Harvey Dent in Batman vs. Two-Face… coming same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Gary Collinson is a writer and lecturer from the North East of England. He is the editor-in-chief of FlickeringMyth.com and the author of Holy Franchise, Batman! Bringing the Caped Crusader to the Screen.