Somedays you just can’t get rid of a “meh.”
Writers: Michael Jelenic and James Tucker
Actors: Adam West (Batman / Bruce Wayne), Burt Ward (Robin / Dick Grayson), William Shatner (Two-Face / Harvey Dent), Julie Newmar (Catwoman), Jeff Bergman (Desmond Dumas / Joker / Bookworm), Sirena Irwin (Dr. Quinzel), Thomas Lennon (Chief O’Hara), Lee Meriwether (Lucille Diamond), William Salyers (The Penguin), Lynne Marie Stewart (Aunt Harriet) Jim Ward (Commissioner Gordon / Hugo Strange), Steven Weber (Alfred / Two-Face Henchmen), Wally Wingert (The Riddler / King Tut)
In May 2016, Adam West and Burt Ward – TV’s legendary Batman and Robin – broke word that they would return in some form as the Bright Knight and the Boy Wonder. We learned that they would make their return in a new animated feature titled Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders.
The film was released to the delight of many Bat-fans (including one intrepid editor of this very website). It premiered at New York Comic Con 2016, and fans cheered, but then…
Adam West passed away at the age of 88 after a short, yet unknown battle with leukemia. Devoted Bat-followers were heartbroken, especially since it was announced that West and Ward would return to star in a sequel titled Batman vs. Two-Face. Also announced, famed Star Trek and T.J. Hooker alum William Shatner would voice the dual role (pun intended) of Harvey Dent and Two-Face. Producers of the film assured fans that it would still be made, and West was able to complete his lines before his death.
Fast-forward to New York Comic Con 2017. Sharna Jahangir and I had the pleasure of talking to some of the producers and cast of the feature, including Burt Ward and William Shatner. Ward even told me directly to expect more animated films featuring the Caped Crusaders. Producers James Tucker and Michael Jelenic differ on the subject.
Batman vs. Two-Face is an interesting movie. Tucker and company charge themselves with a task that was never achieved by the original Batman television series. They brought characters never used on the 1966 show like Two-Face and Hugo Strange. It’s a bumpy transition. Liberties are made, and a different route is taken for Harvey Dent to become Two-Face. The plot tries to recycle some of the themes from the first film, which is a little disappointing. Still, it is a modestly enjoyable ride.
How To Continue Without Adam West
If Burt Ward is correct, James Tucker and Michael Jelenic have an opportunity improve this franchise. Adam West cannot be replaced, but there are people who come close to mimicking his voice. A longtime friend of West, and Batman series fan, Ralph Garman does a pretty spot on West impersonation. Jeff Bennett played Owen Garrison in Scooby Doo: Mask of the Blue Falcon, which was basically an alternate version of Adam West.
I am personally hoping for the producers to borrow from other DC Comics properties like Wonder Woman ’77. It would be great to see (or should I say “hear”) Lynda Carter again as the Amazing Amazon. Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77 would make a great film to pass the torch and start a new franchise. Gal Gadot has done wonders (pun intended) for the character, and this version should be introduced to a new generation.
Back to Batman vs. Two-Face. I ended up watching it a second time. The feature film itself is alright, but the highlights of the Blu-ray included a well-deserved spotlight focusing on Burt Ward and his life after Batman. Another is the tribute to Adam West, filmed at San Diego Comic-Con 2017.
To have one last piece of Adam West, and another Batman film to add to your library, Batman vs. Two-Face will suffice. But if you want to capture the true essence of the actor, the man who lived the life of the Bright Knight, check out Starring Adam West.