Saturday, June 10, 2017
Adam West, the "Bright Knight" Batman, Merges With The Infinite
This one hurts.
Adam West has passed at the age of 88.
Literally my earliest memories include watching Batman starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. Steans-family lore states that my first words were "Batman" as I ran around our home with my security blanket around my neck.
The story is that I was toddler-ish and Jason was two years older, and my mom, The Karebear, had to make us dinner before my Dad got home from work (dude worked hard and late). In order to wrangle me, her ADD wunderkind, she figured out that I'd sit perfectly still for Batman, which happened to be on in syndication right when she needed to fire up the stove.
When the Michael Keaton-starring "serious" Batman was released, in 1989, when I was 14, the show came back on cable, and I totally got what they were up to. Somehow, inbetween, like many of my generation, there'd been some confusion about the show being a drama that was kind of stupid and something you grew out of. But, nope, the show had been winking to the older crowd all along.
The older I got, when I'd catch Adam West, the more I loved what he was doing under that cowl. And I grew more and more disappointed that the world had decided he was, and always would be, Batman. It took a long time for both Hollywood and the TV audience to let actors try new things. Fortunately, Adam West had stock-piled a couple of generations of good-will and by the time Gen-X and younger started making TV and having kids of our own, West was able to enjoy a renaissance as a voice actor as well as trading again on his Batman career at screenings and Comic-Cons, as well as the occasional guest-spot.
In 2010, we got to see West here in Austin at The Paramount Theatre when he hosted the movie now known as Batman '66. He gave an opening talk about how he had been-type cast and as Batman films got darker and darker, he realized part of his value was being the anti-dote to this grim view of Batman and the world - he was The Bright Knight.
Since then, through licensing of the show to toys and collectibles, to BluRay releases of the show and movies, comics, and an animated movie with some of the original voice actors, West's Batman has seen a new level of appreciation and fandom by both kids and the generation younger than my own, who has always gotten to appreciate West for who he is, in part thanks to his relationship with the TV show, The Family Guy.
I'm really going to miss knowing he was out there. He had a family and grandchildren and a seemingly pretty great life going on, touring to Comic-Cons and enjoying his continuing celebrity.
Thanks for everything, Mr. West. We're really going to miss you.