Adam West, TV’s Batman, has died at 88 after a short fight with leukemia. I was surprised by this (I had no idea he was sick, he’s been doing voice work and guesting on TV shows) and it made me quite nostalgic.
I’ve written before on my blog how influential watching Star Trek reruns as a child in the 70s was to my creativity and imagination. Well, so was watching reruns of Batman. And as a child Adam West was the ultimate superhero. He was earnest and good, smart and capable, and no matter how devious the plot or desperate the peril, he could always wiggle his way out of it. When you’re a kid, you don’t understand camp, and I took it completely seriously, and was riveted.
As an adult the hokeyness of it is readily obvious, but it’s still charming. Even beyond nostalgia, these days with dark and gritty superheroes being so conflicted and driven and psychically tortured there’s something endearing about a hero who does what’s right because it’s right, fights crime simply because he can and he knows the police needs his help. Sure, you can do these things without dressing up in bat-themed spandex, but hey, the bat suit was fun!
The Batman TV show was instrumental in my love of superheroes and superheroics. Maybe you can’t draw a direct line from the Batman TV show to The Sedumen Chronicles but I certainly wouldn’t have the mindset I do if it wasn’t for the daring-do of the Caped Crusader. Adam West’s Batman couldn’t have been further from the Dark Knight that Batman became, but his ultra-earnest-while-campy take was perfect for a growing boy looking for heroes. Thank you, Mr. West, for being the perfect Batman at the time.