I’m Batman: A look back at live-action Dark Knights
Today is the 20th anniversary of the 1989 “Batman” film starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. I remember my brother and I desperately anticipating this film, which we then saw multiple times over the summer. (Thanks to the Bat-Blog for the reminder.)
With the 1989 “Batman” on my mind, I decided to take a look back at the men who have portrayed Batman in live-action over the years.
Robert Lowery replaced Wilson in 1949′s “Batman and Robin,” as the Dynamic Duo face the Wizard and his death ray. It’s cheaper, and not as well-done as 1943′s “Batman,” but contains less offensive content, if you’re considering checking it out with younger viewers.
Here’s what The Oklahoman‘s entertainment editor Gene Triplett wrote about “Batman and Robin” for its DVD release:
The Saturday morning serial model of Batman shown in the theaters of 1949 was pretty low-budget: His
Batman is played by Robert Lowery, accurately described as a “colorless B-movie actor” in David Inman’s “TV Encyclopedia,” and best-known as Big Tim Champion on the ’50s TV series “Circus Boy.” John Duncan, a young body-builder with an Okie accent, is Robin, and B-movie stalwart Lyle Talbot (“Plan 9 From Outer Space”) is Commissioner Gordon. If you don’t take your Batman too seriously, here’s 15 chapters (261 minutes) of unintentional hilarity.
Batman next appeared when Adam West brought the character back with the campy 1960s television series. Rights issues have precluded the TV series from being released on DVD, though the 1966 movie is
The Oklahoman‘s Renee Lawrence asked West in 2001 what he thought gave the 1960s “Batman” its staying power among later generations.
“I think possibly it’s because we made a great effort to do it on several levels: for the kids, so they would enjoy all the splash, adventure, color, the bizarre villains and situations and so the adults would see the humor and laugh along with it,” West said. “And I think it worked because, I’m not that old, but I have three generations of folks coming to see me at these live appearances. It’s wonderful.”
Though Batman appeared in his own cartoons and in “SuperFriends” in the 1970s and 1980s, that was it for live-action “Batman” for several years, until Tim Burton’s ” Batman” was a critical and commercial
” Batman” took nearly a decade to get made, as multiple approaches were tried before director Tim Burton came aboard.
The film likely couldn’t have been made without the darker ” Batman” comics of the 1980s, including “Dark Knight Returns” and “Killing Joke,” which Burton showed at meetings to get the 1960s “Bam! Pow!” version out of executives’ heads.
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