Jason Borelli writes:
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Batman television series. Warner Bros. marked that event in part with Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, an animated movie featuring Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin. Prior to the release of the sequel, West passed away at the age of 88. While there was not a melancholy looming over the Batman vs. Two-Face panel, fans and co-stars fondly remembered one of the most memorable actors to don the cape and cowl, and we also got an advance look at West’s final stint as Batman.
Batman Vs. Two-Face marks the debut of Harvey Dent into the continuity of the television series. Like Return of the Caped Crusaders, the sequel maintains the campy air, sight gags, and visible sound effects, while bringing elements that were not feasible in 1966.
Prior to West’s death, the biggest attraction was the inclusion of William Shatner as Two-Face. After the movie, Shatner came out to talk about the movie Joining him was Ward, who reprises his role as Dick Grayson/Robin, along with Julie Newmar as Catwoman. Joining the two actors on stage were supervising producer-writers James Tucker and Michael Jelenic, and director Rick Morales.
As expected, most of the crowd’s attention went towards the actors. Shatner described his approach to Two-Face: watching the undubbed animation, providing his take on the villain and his alter ego, as well as the various transformations. He spoke of how he and West never broke character while in costume, and how he was told by William Dozier (executive producer of the original series) that he was picked for the role because he was the only auditioned actor that could be Robin.
The behind-the-scenes team received their fair share of audience queries. Tucker admitted that Poison Ivy (who had not been in the original series) was in the first draft of the script, but was subsequently dropped. He added that the villainess was going to be “next in line” in the event of a third movie. None of the panel spoke of the possibility of Batman being recast, but they left the door open at the idea.
In a similar vein, Ward was open to reprising his role, though the decision to produce a third movie laid with Warner Bros. Shatner also expressed willingness to voice more animated characters, as well as contribute to a potential Star Trek animated series, but that has not materialized yet.
Given their memorable on-screen personalities, Shatner and Ward had fun throughout the panel. He brought up a line from Ward in the movie (taking place on a giant billiards table), and it quickly became a running gag for the remainder of the panel.
Ward also talked about the lack of separation between playing Robin on screen and voicing the character, adding that he did not miss the costume. He was still fond of the role he started a half-century ago, feeling that he never left. He added, “Who wouldn’t want to ride in the Batmobile with Batman?” The atmosphere of the movie was also mentioned and complimented, as it kept true to the source material (prime example: the climax took place as “Lorenzo’s Oil Factory.”)
As expected, the panel reminisced about West fondly. Ward compared West’s off-screen behavior to Charlton Heston as Moses, and Tucker added that he would be “very proud” of the finished product. The most touching moment of the panel came after the movie’s end credits. “In Loving Memory,” the final credits proclaimed. “Adam West (1928-2017). Rest Well, Bright Knight.”
Batman vs. Two-Face will be released digitally this Tuesday, and on DVD and Blu-Ray on October 17th.