Theatrical poster for BATMAN: THE MOVIE (1966)

In 1966, the BATMAN television series debuted in January on ABC TV. A throwback to the 1940s Batman movie serials from Columbia, it aired twice a week in a half hour “serial” format. Part one would end with a cliffhanger than would be resolved in part two the following night.

Starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin, the show became a huge overnight hit for the network and an outbreak of “Batmania” hit the U.S.

Producers of the television show had planned debuting the series on the big screen during the summer of ‘66 as a feature film, and then begin the TV series in the fall. But ABC decided to air BATMAN as a mid-season replacement in early 1966, so the movie would actually hit theaters after the airing of the TV show’s first season.

BATMAN’s plot is fairly simple: Batman and Robin are out to stop a combination of The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Riddler (Frank Gorshin), Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), and The Penguin (Burgess Meredith) from taking over the world. The “Fearsome Foursome” have a weapon that can turn people into dust (yes, dust) and plan to use it to carry out there plan — as well as to take out Batman and Robin once and for all.

Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, Frank Gorshin as The Ridder, Lee Meriwether as Catwoman, and Cesar Romero as The Joker in BATMAN (1966)

BATMAN, directed by Leslie H. Martinson, was released on July 30, 1966 following the world premiere in Austin, Texas at the Paramount Theater.

Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin in BATMAN (1966)

Like the TV show, the movie has the same campy/tongue in cheek humor and exaggerated acting performances.  While I prefer the dark and serious take on Batman, I love this movie and I love the TV series. If you are a fan of the “dark” Dark Knight, this probably isn’t your favorite incarnation of Batman. Nonetheless, it’s an important part of Batman history and its place within it is more than secure.

Even today, say “Batman” to someone, and they are likely to hum the TV show theme or give you a “Pow, Zap, Wham” in response. – Bill “Jett” Ramey