Possible spoilers ahead!
Seems like ever since Warner Bros. and Fox worked out the rights dispute for Batman ’66, the characters are everywhere. Finally, the old TV series is available on Blu-ray, and fans can read new adventures in various comic series. More recently, the 1960’s Batman saw a new adventure in the form of the animated movie “Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders.”
The latest in DC’s line of direct-to-DVD animated films, serves as a continuation of the classic TV series. But since the movie pits the dynamic duo against the Joker, Catwoman, Penguin and Riddler, it feels more like a sequel to the 1966 Batman theatrical film. Either way, if you liked the classic show or the movie, you’re bound to enjoy Return of the Cape Crusaders.
The film even features the surviving actors reprising their famous roles. But sadly, after 50 years, only Adam West’s Batman, Burt Ward’s Robin and Julie Newmar’s Catwoman remain from the original cast. The rest of the voice work is left to newcomers, including: Jeff Bergman (Joker and the Narrator), William Salyers (Penguin), Wally Wingert (Riddler) and Jim Ward (Commissioner Gordon).
None of the new voice talent really stood out for me. The worst one I felt, was the new Joker who didn’t sound anything close to the late Cesar Romero.
Return of the Caped Crusaders tries to capture the look and feel of the TV series. But it never quite gets there. I never felt like this was the same world as in the old show, it didn’t even seem like the movie took place in the 1960’s. Also, those campy, colorful sideways sets of the TV series are not recreated at all. They didn’t even use the original theme song, choosing instead and instrumental version.
And whoever thought it was a good idea opening the movie with a scene of Dick Grayson practicing ballet in front of Bruce Wayne, you should not work in comic book movies again. Talk about one awkward sequence, even for Batman ’66.
I will say however that the character designs are all spot-on. From Wayne Manor, to police HQ, and the Batcave, they all looked like I remember them from the TV series. Another positive in the film was Julie Newmar’s voice work as Catwoman. Even now, this woman is the perfect choice to play the character.
“Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders” tries to be faithful to the source material, and sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. This felt more goofy than the old TV show ever did. But, while this isn’t the best DC animated movie ever, the voice work by Adam West Julie Newmar, and Burt Ward was worth the rental price.
“Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders” final score: C+