Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders
Director - Rick Morales
Cast - Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar
Rating - 4/5
Oh Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, what have you done? You were supposed to be a kitschy throwback to 50 years ago, a gleeful POW! in the face of a brooding Batfleck, but you’re so much more. You’re a post-post-modern Batman, a commentary on the commentary. Inhale. Exhale. All will be explained.
The levels of meta going on in this new, animated Batman film would send Abed from Community running for the darkest timeline – and there is perhaps no sentence nerdier than the one you just read to describe it.
But for those of you who wandered here by mistake, and are now cursing the heavens with clenched fists – like an on-form Jim Carrey - don’t go. There’s something for everyone. We’re talking cartoons here. And honestly, how often do we talk cartoons?
So, to bring everyone on the same page, you’ll need to answer a couple of questions first. Yes, your confusion is warranted – no one was expecting a test, and that too in the fourth paragraph - but bear with me. Also, don’t worry; they’re quite simple. So the first question is: Do you remember the 1966 Batman TV show?
If the answer is yes, then you should probably start believing in God (provided of course that you are currently an atheist). And if you do count yourself as a believer already, then you should drop everything immediately (finish this review, though) and make haste towards your nearest place of worship and ring a bell or light a candle or say a silent prayer or something. Because there is a God, and as a ‘sorry’ for the rough world he’s made for us, he’s given us a gift: This glorious, 70-minute-long, animated Batman movie.
And since he is not a fan of leaving any stones unturned, he extended the lives of original cast members Adam West (who, to put this in context, was born in 1928), Burt Ward (71 now) and Julie Newmar (83), just to bring them back as the characters for which they are still best known for, 50 years later.
But where were we… Ah yes! Question number 2: Does your love for the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy rage as furiously as Batman’s for Catwoman? And finally, question 3: Do you frequently find yourself observing impromptu moments of silence for the rotting carcass that is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice?
If the answer to both those questions is yes, then you, who only a few seconds ago were rethinking your internet behaviour for the thousandth time, would agree that this was meant to be. You are here for a reason, and that reason is for you to get psyched enough for this movie in the next minute or so to watch it (after you’re done reading this of course) through Any Means Possible.
Return of the Caped Crusaders is - at least till the time (an hour) the Dynamic Duo are talking in alliterations, using Bat-gadgets and foiling the plans of that ‘mocking mountebank of malice’ (Joker), that ‘black-hearted bear of bitter bumbershoots’ (the Penguin), the ‘prince of perverted puzzles’ (the Riddler) and the ‘dominatrix of deviltry’ (Catwoman) - a campy throwback to the lunatic days of 1966’s Batman show.
And then, for its final act, it takes a turn so drastic, even the Batmobile wouldn’t be able to negotiate it (and we haven’t even got to the part where they go to space yet). It takes Harvey Dent’s words from The Dark Knight (You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain) too literally, and makes Adam West’s Batman - spoiler alert - a villain. And in doing so, it deconstructs the deconstruction of an already ‘broken’ character. It directly takes on the grim modern superhero, and skewers it with some serious Bat-satire.
It is a cartoon movie of uncommon smarts: In one scene, having come face to face with the ‘Catmobile’ (it’s what you think is) Robin exclaims: ‘Holy Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’ If you didn’t catch that, it’s a reference to a cult 1965 exploitation movie. And also, I believe there might even have been a passing reference to date rape in another scene…
Through some marvel (wink wink), they’re still coming up with fresh takes on a character that’s been around for more than 75 years now. But more than anything else, Return of the Caped Crusaders takes away every Batman fan’s right to complain. It’s short, slight, beautifully animated, jazzy, retro nostalgia porn.
Now, to the Batmobile!