I have a question. Why do I dislike Batman now? And more importantly, how come I’m unable to introduce him to my children until they’ve reached puberty? It used to be so simple. Adam West in a loose-fitting speedo worn over some light blue tights. With a bad-ass belt. And Burt Ward right behind him, pretend-climbing up that fake-looking building with the help of a rope.
Even when I watched those shows in syndication on TBS (or was it WGN?) as an 8-year-old, I knew they were really just walking along a stage floor hunched over as if they were fighting gravity’s pull as they “hoisted” themselves up the non-existant facade. But I didn’t care. The show was riddled with perfect imperfections — intentional ones — and it was endearing. It put less pressure on my buddies and me when we went outside to reenact whatever episode had just ended.
But then Batman got all Hollywood on us. And I suppose I was down at first. I really did enjoy Michael Keaton as Batman, but he was a funny guy — more importantly, a fun guy. And Batman had always been a fun thing for me, so he was a good fit. And Jack Nicholson was hard to beat as the Joker. But when Val Kilmer stepped into the title role, I began to lose interest. And George Clooney? Wasn’t feeling him at all.
But at least it was still Batman. The most recent iterations of the once-classic character have become darker and darker starting with “Batman Begins” in 2005. Then “The Dark Night” came about in 2008, complete with the Heath Ledger tragedy. And now, “The Dark Night Rises.”
Sorry, Batman, but you lost me somewhere in the 90s. And though you may still have some kids hooked, it’s likely more because of the “forbidden fruit” nature which you now possess. You’re no longer as accessible as you once were, on TV or the big screen — your essence, perhaps still appealing to many a young fan, but your application too mature for their youthful innocence, your plots too complicated for their still-simple minds.
How I long for the campy days of Adam West and the crookedly shot scenes featuring the sorta scary, sorta funny Burgess Meredith rocking a penguin suit. Give me a silly phrase sandwiched in between the words “Holy” and “Batman,” any day of the week. Hook me up with just one POW. Or make it ZONK, I don’t care. I’ll even take a BAM. Just give me something. Anything.
C’mon, powers that be. Gimme Batman back. Please? For my children. The ones I’m busy raising, as well as the one inside of me.