After hearing about Adam West’s passing at age 88, I started thinking about his legacy. Of course, most people know him from the 60s Batman television show and as an animated version of himself on Family Guy. There are others which, though less less well known, are thematically appropriate. The most obvious one is from an episode of Batman: The Animated Series.
Batman Portrayals in Visual Media
It dawned on me as I rode the bus to the airport: the debate of who’s the most “iconic” Batman has long been decided. It’s Adam West. While he’s far from the best at portraying the Dark Knight’s character in a contemporary and modern society, his acting and delivery were by far the most memorable. Think about it. We’ve had 6 Batman’s on the big screen, Adam West included. Every single one of them played either a good Bruce Wayne or a good Batman. A decent middle ground wasn’t found until Christian Bale’s Batman, though his billionaire playboy act was a flaw of Batman Begins as you could tell he was faking. Ben Affleck, while in a bad movie, manages to give us a Bruce who can pull off the douchebag billionaire persona. Granted the movies take place in very different points in Batman’s life, but in terms of acting as the Bruce Wayne mask, Affleck’s performance runs laps around Bale’s portrayal of that particular aspect of the character.
Going back to Adam West, while the show was full of camp, West managed to make the character his own. And that campiness also affected the comics. Read any of the space-related Batman stories in the 60s and you’ll see quick, like all media, the two mediums influenced each other.
The 60s Batman show holds up well today. It’s still goofy, but it was lovable It’s sad we lost such a great person, but its even sadder that it took his death for some of us to appreciate his work, especially as the caped crusader himself. RIP, Mr. West.
Image taken from the Adam West Facebook fan page.