I grew up on the old Batman TV series starring Adam West as the Caped Crusader and Burt Ward as his faithful sidekick Robin the Boy Wonder. Like a Doctor Who fan has an attachment to their first Doctor, it’s the same way for comic fans. To me growing up Batman was Adam West and Superman was Christopher Reeve and they are still who I envision when I think of those characters. I was like a little kid at Christmas when they announced that the series would be revived as an animated film, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, and that it would star Adam West and Burt Ward returning to play the Dynamic Duo.
Batman vs Two Face, the animated sequel to Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders brings the fun Batman of my childhood to a new audience that may not have watched the old series and been exposed to this incarnation of Batman otherwise. The light-hearted feel of the old series is there as are all the old familiar faces from the old series, yet with a more modern touch.
Director Rick Morales was extremely faithful to the live action series that spawned it in his second animated outing with the Dark Knight. There were several nods to the old series that fans like myself will have a great time pointing out. Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara are on hand as well as Alfred and Aunt Harriet. We also get a smorgasbord of villains, both old and new. Julie Newmar even returns to voice Catwoman, who is apparently dating Batman and seriously thinking of switching sides.
Speaking of new villains the title villain of Two Face is introduced to the world by none other than William Shatner. Shatner, of course best known as the original Captain Kirk on Star Trek, does a masterful job of capturing the tortured dual personality of Harvey Dent. West and Shatner play off against each other like two sides of a scarred coin. The friendship between Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent is a stark contrast to that of Batman and Two Face. The origin of Two Face is a little different from the traditional origin, but adds an interesting element to the story.
Michael Jelenic and James Tucker deserve a lot of credit for crafting a screenplay that pays a very faithful homage to a precious piece of a lot of fan’s childhoods and making it relevant to today’s audience. They also had to juggle at least 10 villains who appeared in the film and still did not let it feel bogged down or convoluted and that is impressive.
Aside from returning favorites like the Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler and Catwoman, who all go back to the live action film which started that version of Batman and led into the series, we get other classic TV villains like; Egghead (I wish Vincent Price could have voiced that character again), Mr. Freeze, Bookworm, and one of my all time favorites King Tut (who gets a fair amount of screen time).
We also get to see characters from the comic book world introduced into this version of Batman for the first time. Hugo Strange makes his debut and has a big part to play in the altered origin of Two Face. The best cameo has got to be Dr. Harleen Quinzell, who has an obvious mutual flirtation with the Joker. I would LOVE to see the Harley Quinn of that world come into being and though that’s yet to happen the groundwork has now been laid.
This was the last film that Adam West made before his unfortunate passing this past June after a battle with leukemia. He was an inspiration to me as a kid and even as an adult and I know that I am not alone in that. Adam West inspired an entire generation of fans and now through these animated films his legacy lives on and has reached a new generation of fans in need of a little inspiration. Rating: 4.5 Stars