Batman (1966): Cheese and Comedy

This is the Batman movie everyone is talking about, right?

It’s kinda hilarious to see how comic books and their adaptations have changed over the decades. Especially Batman. Nowadays, Batman movies are very dark and tend to be more realistic. The primary examples of that being movies like ‘The Dark Knight’ or the newest film, ‘The Batman’.

Then there’s this movie. Which is just… perfect.

Batman (1966) is a delightfully goofy slice of the sixties. It’s a lighthearted goofy romp, completely unlike the Batman films of today. It is so patently ridiculous on every single level that you can’t help but smile while you’re watching it. Sure, it may not be ‘good’. But it’s dumb enough to be fun!

A ship carrying a new piece of highly advanced technology is sailing near Gotham. When a mysterious crisis arrives, Batman and Robin fly off to investigate. When the ship suddenly vanishes, the two quickly realize that four of their greatest foes, the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, and Catwoman may all be involved. Can the dynamic duo stop all four of them and their latest scheme?

This movie is so cheesy that it’s coming out of a spray can! Every single line of dialogue is cartoonish and over-the-top, and the actors go all-in on it, even at it’s most stupid. The leaps of logic the script takes at practically every turn are enough to cross the Grand Canyon, from plays on words that are a stretch at best (Sea, as in C! For Catwoman!) to the legendary shark repellant.

Of course, some lines are genuinely, intentionally hilarious. Such as, “Somedays you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”

It’s themes are also about as subtle in their presentation as a sledgehammer to the face. The characters will basically look into the camera and explain the morals. ‘Respect the cops’, ‘The division between America and Russia is bad’, so on and so forth. Granted, in all fairness: it’s a movie meant for kids back in the 60s. You can’t expect much in terms of subtlety.

You have to appreciate how far the actors go. As goofy as the writing is, all the actors give it over a thousand percent to amplify it. Sometimes they go so far that they end up tripping over each other’s lines. You’d be lucky to find one scene where Batman doesn’t cut Robin off. Still, everyone is so energetic that it’s hard not to enjoy their performances.

Even the effects and costumes are basically a joke! Just looking at Batman and Robin’s costumes are enough to get a chuckle out of anyone; by modern standards, they are hysterical! The sets are just as funny; you mean to tell me that the Penguin gave each of the four criminals their own special doors? And you mean to tell me that Batman labels all of his things with ‘Bat’?

To be fair, though, they do manage to do some impressive stuff with practical effects. You’ve got to remember, this was decades before CGI was a thing. All the silly props, from the Bat-Helicopter and the Penguin’s submarine, were as real as the actors who used them. Do they look ridiculous? Oh, absolutely! But that’s the charm!

Funnily enough, the music is unironically really good. Yes, the classic Batman theme is there. But the other tracks are memorable in their own right! It’s a product of the times, just like the rest of the movie, but it’s the only aspect that hasn’t gradually become a joke over the years.

This movie is delightfully dumb. It’s vastly different from the Batman movies of today, but that’s kind of why I like it. Honestly, I’m kinda burnt out on the super grim, dark, and serious Batman. That’s part of why I decided to review this instead of the new one.

Also, I was worried that I would have to watch Bruce Wayne’s parents die again. Which is a scene I never need to see again.

In short: this movie is dumb and hilarious. Get drunk and watch it with your friends. Consider it a warm-up for the new one. Trust me; you’ll have more than enough laughs to justify it.

Plus, it’s free to watch on YouTube as of me writing this article. So the only thing you have to lose is time.

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