Look back on a classic superhero film – Batman: The Movie (1966)

Score: 4/4 Exploding Sharks

Threatened by the United Underworld (Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin and Joker) Batman and robin must solve riddles and find a way to save the United World Organization’s Security Council from the Dehydrator!

Batman: The Movie released as a follow up the first season of Batman’s 1960 live action television series it continues the adventures of Batman and Robin on the big screen for the first full length theatrical adaption of Batman. Starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin the dynamic duo faces off against four of Batman’s greatest villains in a single 105 minute movie!

As Batman’s first appearance on the silver screen, the movie does not shy away from the campy feel of the live action television series and instead picks it up and runs with it. From the get go, you have Batman sent to a yacht to save a commodore only to have the yacht disappear and Batman attacked by a Shark. Yes, the cape crusader’s first big action scene is against a shark! This leads to the first of many of Batman’s great answers to problems faced in this movie, Shark Repellent. This sends the shark away only to be followed by the shark exploding seconds later (it was a shark filled with explosives sent by the Joker, Batman did not kill it intentionally). 

Batman – “Hand down the shark-repellent Batspray!”

This scene alone builds the suspense and story of the film without being bogged down by a back story and exposition of crime-fighting heroes. From here the film continues with both visual and audible gags that brings the characters to life. Almost every scene has a gag, from a spring in the floor, round shaped cartoon bombs, to random henchmen being turned to dust.

Taking queues from the tv series the fight scenes include POW’s! KAPOW’s! And Z-ZWAP’s! To really show what is going on. After all who needs those quick cuts and amazing choreography if you can just cut in a visual sound effect of a henchmen being beaten and show them lying on the floor.

The film continues along a fairly standard plot path of our heroes figuring out who the villains are, being captured, escaping and saving the day with a brilliant fight scene at the end.

While the shark scene might be one of the greatest in cinema history, I would be remissed if I did not mention the best scene ever.

Batman – “Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb.”

In an attempt on Batman’s life, he is left with a bomb on a crowded pier. What follows is some of the worst luck for Batman as he runs around with a lit bomb trying to avoid nuns, babies, ducklings, lovers, explosive cylinders and a marching band that seems to be following him around. I have added a link at the bottom for anyone that has not seen it.

But in all seriousness what makes this movie one of the classics and one of the best superhero movie is the dialogue. Filled with one liners and intentionally humorous conversations, it manages to stay very light despite the many attempts of the United Underworld to kill Batman. Visual comedy is paired nicely with riddles that could have only been answered in a tongue and cheek way.

While it may not be the greatest superhero film, it is a classic that I think everyone should see at least once to understand where Batman came from and how far the superhero films have grown over the years.

Batman: [reads the first riddle] What has yellow skin and writes?

Robin: A ball-point banana!

Batman: [reads the second riddle] What people are always in a hurry?

Robin: Rushing people… Russians!

Batman: So this means…

Robin: Someone Russian is going to slip on a banana and break their neck!

Batman: Precisely, Robin!

Fun fact: If you plan on re-watching the film, look out for the Joker’s mustache. Cesar Romero refused to shave it during filming and so they just covered it with face paint.