More Wham! Than Spam!

The dynamic duo; Batman and Robin finally come out of the closet - no, not that one, holy innuendo! Bringing along some of the classic cast of the 60’s television show for one more episode - this time in the animated realm - with Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders.

As Bruce Wayne (Adam West) and his young ward Dick Grasyon (Burt Ward) - who’s not forgetting to skip leg day, by getting some much needed ballerina practice in - the alter ego’s of the iconic Batman and Robin, relax by the fireplace to watch a night of entertainment - namely a show called Gotham Palace.

Unfortunately not all is as it seems, with the shows band replaced by the fearsome foursome of Catwoman (Julie Newmar), Joker (Jeff Bergman), Penguin (William Salyers) and Riddler (Wally Wingert) who have come to stir up trouble - to the Batmobile Robin!

After leaving both Alfred (Steven Weber) and Aunt Harriet (Lynne Marie Stewart) in the lurch, the pair don their costumes and zoom off in the now iconic vehicle. Upon arriving at the tv station, the villainous group are easy work for the dynamic duo, with just a short crash, bang and a wallop later, the dastardly devils make their eccentric escape.

But not before leaving an easily traceable calling card for the ‘the world's best detective’ Batman to solve and follow. To the Batcave Robin! And let the adventure of Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders begin.

I have to say Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is quite the refreshing experience, especially from a Batman which has become increasingly darker over the years in both the comic, animated and cinematic realm; showcased in all its glory with the latest Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie. From the offset paying homage to each of our heroes (and villains) first comic appearances, it’s clear Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is aiming to be something different than recent outings.

Indeed, with Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders opting to return to the now classic 60’s show, of a more idealistic age and one definitely a lot more upbeat and fun, wherein Batman is not aiming to punish his villainous foes, but rather rehabilitate them. It’s a novel idea then to reunite the original cast of the show, and truly it’s like they never left it - a moment captured in time - with Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders feeling like just another episode of the television show that made them household names. And whilst the cast have all obviously aged - most notable in the voice of Julie Newmar - they are still able to pull off the character with ease. In addition to this are the new voice cast, who feel right at home, and slot right in with their stalwart company. In fact, I had no idea - until being enlightened by the films special features - that both Jeff Bergman and William Salyers had never voiced their particular characters before as it seems so familiar, the third of that bunch meanwhile (Wally Wingert) playing a Riddler we have grew accustomed to from the Arkham series of video games.

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders - Batman, Robin, Catwoman, Penguin, Joker & Riddler (Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Jeff Bergman, William Salyers, and Wally Wingert)

The animation meanwhile in Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is fairly basic, which works well for the simplistic narrative and visual style the film is aiming to incorporate - complete with multiple oft lingering scenes which completely go nowhere or feel needlessly drawn out to serve a stylistic purpose. It truly does capture the essence show - or at least your memory of it - with every line being a pun, double entendre or indeed both, creating a light and joyous tone. This is also a drawback though, with a price tag of a feature film, it fails to capture any kind of cinematic quality you may have come to expect in part due to the material they are having to work with.

The basic animation and quirky narrative eliminates any possible stakes or emotional investment for the viewer, so the films plot itself carries no weight, and is merely - and rightly so - just a situation for our costume heroes to throw some punches within. I believe Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders would have worked far better as an episodic television show - much like Batman: The Brave and the Bold with its villain of the week and camp tone - rather than a feature film that struggles to pack anything substantive within its length - clocking in at just 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Special Features

Those Dastardly Desperados - A short - roughly 11 minutes long - featurette showcasing how the team brought the iconic heroes and villains to life whilst updating them for the modern age as director Rick Morales and writers Michael Jelenic & James Tucker talk us through the process of capturing that 60’s charm.

A Classic Cadre of Voices - A short - roughly 10 minutes long - featurette showcasing the voice talent both old and new, as you get to meet the original cast being reintroduced to their roles - and nailing it - whilst the nervous newcomers hope to fill in for some very big shoes.

Sneak Peak - A quick behind the scenes sneak peak at the making of two animated features - that have strangely been out for sometime - with Son of Batman (2014) and its sequel Batman vs Robin (2015).

Trailers - A whole host of trailers for Wonder Woman - both the upcoming theatrical release and the already released cartoon - and The Lego Batman Movie.

If you are a little burned out on a literal ‘Dark Knight’, then Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders might be right up your valley, offering a return to that 60’s charm with an upbeat fun tone that continually prods at itself, whilst successfully capturing what worked in the now classic show creating a must-watch for fans of that era.

Conversely those expecting a meaty feature length animated film to become invested within, will want to steer clear. As Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders feels like a literal episode of the camp show - stretched out to fill time - lacking a cinematic quality that comes associated with its price tag.

A copy of Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders was provided by the distributor for review purposes.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    7th November 2016

  • 3 Out of 5 Stars
  • Feels like an episode of a TV show

    Lacks a cinematic quality

  • Captures the 60's television show vibe

    Light tone & fun

    Voice acting

Film Info

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders
Rating: 12
Release Date: 7th October
Runtime: 1 hr 18 mins
Director: Rick Morales
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Jeff Bergman, William Salyers & Wally Wingert

  • Batman (TV)
  • Lego DC: Batman
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Yes, it contains a few scenes of sexual innuendo and comic violence.

When Batman gets hit on the head and sees three Catwomen, the duplicate Catwomen look like Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt.

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders received a one-day limited theatrical release on October 17th.

The city seal on the floor of the museum is the same as the seal in the Nolan movies.