BATMAN: THE MOVIE AND THE COMICS
It seems like the writing staff of the 1960s Batman TV show were pretty well versed in their comic lore. They regularly consulted the comics for inspiration and adapted many stories directly from the source material. Batman co-creator Bill Finger even contributed a few scripts for the series. But what we’re looking at here is the 1966 feature film and the comics that may have influenced it.
Let’s start with a word about casting. Over the years many people have poked fun at Adam West’s physique, suggesting he was extremely out of shape when he played Batman. In reality though, West was much more athletic than many gave him credit for. His press bio, released by 20th Century Fox when the show started, contained the following statement:
"He is personable, tall, with an athlete's physique, a warm voice, expressive green eyes and a conversational style very much his own."
Photographs of West taken at the time seem to verify this, showing him to have a slim athletic build not unlike the one Batman had in the comics at the time. Add to this the fact that he’s the only Batman actor to date to match Batman’s 6’2 height in the comics, and it’s fair to say West was an adequate physical match for the part.
Another criticism contemporary viewers sometimes level at West’s performance is the fact he didn’t change his voice when playing Batman. It’s true that modern comics describe Batman as speaking in a low, cold whisper. But in the Pre-Crisis comics he was described as sounding ‘calm’ and ‘masterful’ – which is pretty much exactly how West’s Batman sounded.
Both Batman and Robin’s costumes are more or less identical to the comic versions. Batman’s costume is based on the Silver Age Earth-One version that was contemporary at the time of the film’s production. The Earth-One Batman’s costume is easily distinguishable from the Earth-Two’s on account of the yellow oval surrounding the chest emblem.
As for Burt Ward, he was obviously older than the Robin in the comics. But his youthful features allowed him to pass for a teenager. And like Dick Grayson, Ward had a background in athletics. At the age of two he became the world’s youngest professional ice skater. He continued pursuing athletic endeavours, such as football and wrestling, during his high school years. And he also cultivated an interest in martial arts, earning a black belt in Taekwondo that helped him convince the producers of the TV show he was right for the role. Standing next to his 6’2 co-star, the 5’8 Ward certainly looked like the Robin from the comics. His costume matched the comic version perfectly too.
In both the movie and the TV show, Robin is heard to spout his famous "Holy...." catchphrase. The Robin in the Silver Age comics used to say this a lot too. Here are just a few examples.
It’s a sad day for any superhero when he starts ripping off his sidekick’s catchphrase.
Anyway, onto the movie itself...