Batman, Directed by Leslie H. Martinson
20th Century Fox, July 30, 1966 (US)
Screenplay: Lorenzo Semple Jr., based on the comic book by Bob Kane
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, and Burgess Meredith
Catwoman (Lee Meriwether): Marry me, Batman!
Batman (Adam West): But what about Robin?
I would sell my soul for a new set of Hot Wheels. Not new ones. But old, retro ’60s ones. You know, the ones that look like tiny electrified DayGlo-flamed dragsters? When I was six, I fondly remember my brother beating me over the back with a long and yellow vicious Hot Wheels track. WHACK! Then stabbing me in the neck with the red-tongued track joiner. THUD! We were in the living room drinking Nestle’s instant chocolate milk. We were launching tiny Dodge Chargers and Pontiac GTOs and Blue Mercury Cougars over the couch via a monstrously dangerous-for-kids Mattel Super Charger. SPLAT! The chocolate milk went all over the cushions! WHAM! A gold Plymouth Barracuda knocked my mom’s wig off her Styrofoam stand in the neighboring bedroom! SWISH! My brother lashing at me with the sharp plastic track ends even though there wasn’t a single thing I did wrong! There was so much vivid color back then. It’s like someone dropped acid in our Cocoa Puffs. Eight magic shapes and colors of Lucky Charms! There were fluorescent reds and incandescent yellows and greens. Cartoons were glowing like phosphorescent aliens from outer space. Dragnet was like some giant horn-rimmed neon sign in Hollywood infused with Dick Tracey suits and crewcuts that hovered like Technicolor spaceships. The Jetsons. Room 222. Love American Style. There was so much friggin’ color!
Robin (Burt Ward): Holy Heart Failure Batman!
Maybe it’s the tights. Maybe Gotham City. Maybe the Bat Cave. Most definitely the nylon cape ears and how they stood up like little stiff Doberman implants. Or was it the whole Batman package? Did Dick and Bruce really have no penises? How could anyone tuck all that shit into what looks like a nylon-covered armpit? Was an airbrush used? Anyway, we were sold. It was the car that did it the most. The black and brackish Batmobile! The fluorescent orange stripes! Like a groovy black light poster! The three chrome chimney pipes sticking out of the back! The bubble windshield! The fins! The flames! It was, and still will be, the coolest fucking car on the planet! And there was only room for two, Catwoman!
Batman: Bon Voyage, Pussy.
We bought the capes. We bought the model car. We tied up our neighbor friends in the garage threatening them with gasoline and matches (but saving them at the last minute by swinging down from the garage rafters in our thermal underwear). We watched every episode and went to the full-length feature film the minute it came out. Our dad took us to see it in our pink Rambler station wagon. The family Rambler kinda looked like a Batmobile, but was in no way black and didn’t have jet propulsion of any kind. But there was chrome everywhere, and it kicked up dust as we propelled out of the driveway and dirt roads of Panther Valley. We had it for years and drove down to LA every Easter to visit my Aunt Virgie and Uncle Ray in Alhambra. My dad always missed the exit to Pasadena and we were always lost somewhere near Burbank, desperately trying to find our way to Disneyland. Years later during the gasoline crisis I remember sleeping in the back next to two huge white restaurant drums my dad had filled with petrol to save money on the 8-hour trip to Southern California. My mom was a chain smoker and we were like some loose-tiled Klingon shuttle just waiting to explode.
Penguin (Burgess Meredith): Careful, careful. Everyone of them’s got a mother.
Some things turn you on. iPhones. iPods. Anything black like a lava lamp or flat screens that glow in the night. But nothing is as colorful or as dark or as fun or as menacing or as humorous as the graphic, variegated cast of characters in Batman. The car will never be cooler than 1966. The snappy suit never slicker than Cat Woman’s original. The Joker says a line you only get later. POW! The Penguin. The Riddler. They all contemplate the inexplicable meaning of existence. Of growing up. Of never growing old. Lost souls strapped down onto steel train tracks in the night. The Rambler shoots on in the dark. Hot Wheels unleash their flames. VROOM! VROOM! VROOM!!! Gone in a sixties moment.
Batman: Who knows, Robin? This strange mixing of minds may be the greatest single service ever performed for humanity! Let’s go, but inconspicuously, through the window. We’ll use our Batropes. Our job is finished.