At New York Comic Con 2016, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment brought out cast and crew of the upcoming animated feature Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders for press roundtable sessions before the screening and panel discussion: director Rick Morales, writer/producers James Tucker and Michael Jelenic, and actor Adam West (Batman).
The session was held before the revelation of the sequel, currently titled Batman vs. Two-Face with William Shatner playing the iconic Batman villain. Questions asked by Toonzone News are marked.
QUESTION: Aside from the original series that was clearly an influence on this, was there another take on Batman that you drew from for this particular movie?
RICK MORALES: I think the comics of that era. I’m really happy with the title sequence. When you guys watch it, it’s an homage to all the great classic Batman comics we were drawing from. Obviously we were homaging the show, but specifically? I don’t think there’s one storyline we were drawing specifically from.
TOONZONE NEWS: You done a bunch of different animation in your career. Style-wise, this seems like the most realistic, or the one that has the heaviest constraints on it as far as character design and being on model.
RICK MORALES: We’re doing likenesses.
TOONZONE NEWS: Yeah. Did that present problems for you in the production?
RICK MORALES: It didn’t present problems for me. It may have presented problems for the animation studio (laughs). No, I mean, we have great artists that work with us, and the designer on this, Dusty Abell, has such a love for these characters as well. He just did a fantastic job. Doing the likenesses of Adam and Burt and Julie…I don’t think it was difficult on that end.
QUESTION: Do you think because he’s a comic artist and he’s worked in comics for a long time was advantageous?
RICK MORALES: Probably. He knows how to draw and he’s very familiar with the characters. He did a great job on this one.
QUESTION: Do you feel you needed to go back and re-watch the series to get a handle on it, or did you go from memory?
RICK MORALES: Well, the thing is we’re not directly taking from the series. It’s a more nebulous thing, but that’s the fun of it, too, is revisiting stuff. I watched the Adam West show when I was a kid…in reruns of course (laughs), and I’d get totally into it, too. The cliffhangers, they worked on me as a kid. I took it deadly serious, but as an adult you go, “Oh, wait. It was actually funny.”
We were pulling from the comics as well as doing our homage to the show, so there wasn’t anything specifically that we used. But elements…there’s Bat-gadgets, and of course we got to use the Batmobile so we took advantage of that.
QUESTION: In the Batman ’66 comics, they ended up doing crossovers with John Steed and Emma Peel and the Green Hornet. Where would you want to go if you wanted to do a sequel to this? A crossover, or a season 4? What would be your approach?
RICK MORALES: Well, I don’t know if there’s a lot that I can say. I think that there’s definitely a strong direction on where we would want to go on the next one. Something more original. I wouldn’t want to adapt what’s been done in the comics. Those comics are great, by the way. One of the storyboard artists who worked on this, Ruben Procopio, is a huge Batman fan, and he actually drew a few of those issues and he did a wonderful job on this. But yeah, as far as what we would do going forward if we did another one? We’ll see. (Laughs) Sorry, I just don’t know how much I’m allowed to say.
TOONZONE NEWS: How did you find you had to approach the comedy differently in this as opposed to something like the DC LEGO movies?
RICK MORALES: The DC LEGO stuff is a little more physical comedy, a little more slapstick. For that stuff, we’re always kind of looking for how we can incorporate LEGO gags. Physical stuff. It’s a lot more broad. This is more camp, and that’s a difficult distinction. Camp isn’t necessarily funny. It is funny, but it’s played more straight. So tonally, it’s totally different than what you would see on the LEGO Justice League stuff that I’ve done or the LEGO Scooby stuff, because that’s more like Looney Tunes. I think for the characters within this world, the situations are real to them. There are stakes and they are deadly serious about it, but they’re tied to a giant TV dinner (laughs). So I think that’s the humor of it.
QUESTION: The word most often associated with the most recent incarnation of Ben Affleck’s Batman is “rage.” What word would you associate with this incarnation of Batman?
RICK MORALES: Uh…”light”? “Humor?” (laughs) I mean, there’s a place for all sorts of Batmen in the world. I have my particular favorites, some that I think are more successful than others, but I think this is a perfect time to bring back an Adam West-style Batman. Or Adam West. The Nolan movies were really dark, and so was the Batman vs. Superman stuff. It’s pretty grim. It looks like they’re lightening it up a little bit in Justice League, but who knows? I think this is one that you can take your kids, and hopefully it’s a good introduction to this world. Hopefully that’s something that we’ll see.
RICK MORALES: Well, in my opinion, it’s very broad. I think it will appeal to children, and I think if you’re a comic book fan, there’s a lot in here for you to get excited about. We’ve got a ton of Easter Eggs. There’s some great jokes based on what was done in other films and things like that featuring Batman throughout the years. If you know the Michael Keaton movies or the Christopher Nolan films, there’s stuff in there that you’ll be able to chuckle at. So I think that as far as that goes, there’s a lot in here. I think it’s really a broad audience.
QUESTION: Is there a place you feel like you can’t take Batman?
RICK MORALES: Well, I’ve got my personal opinions on that. I don’t think Batman should be a killer. But ultimately, in my view, Batman can be dark, he can be funny, he can be light. I feel like he’s such an icon that you shouldn’t take him so far away from being good that he becomes inaccessible to children. I just feel like as a little boy, I grew up on the Adam West Batman show. I wanted to be Robin. Because he was a good guy, he did the right thing. In my view, that’s where you don’t take Batman. Ultimately he has to be a hero.
QUESTION: Today’s kids are very technologically savvy, they’re very into the next gadget. How are you bridging the difference in the audience in this one, because the kids of the 60’s are not the kids of today.
RICK MORALES: As far as the technology aspect goes? We’re putting signs on everything (laughs). I think there are certain things that you have to retain. We’re doing a 60’s era thing, so you don’t really want to have tablets and cell phones and things like that. It takes you out of the era. I’m not too concerned about that, honestly, because it’s a lot of Bat-gadgets. You understand what an exploding Batarang is or how the Bat-shield functions. Batman has always had the coolest gadgets anyhow, so I think it’s just something that children will understand. It’s not a touch-screen, it’s a giant knob (laughs) or a punch card instead of something on a screen.
QUESTION: Or it’s in the name, “Shark Repellent.”
RICK MORALES: Yeah, right. Clearly! (Laughter)
TOONZONE NEWS: Can you remember the strangest argument or vehement discussion you had in making this movie? Something where in the middle of it you went, “I can’t believe we’re actually arguing over this?”
RICK MORALES: I hate to be so milquetoast, but honestly, that didn’t come up. I think James and I are on the same page for how this stuff should be played, and there really wasn’t any strife on this production. I had a great crew I was working with. Some of the younger guys maybe didn’t understand what it was that we were actually doing at first, so they had to be brought along, but there was never really anything. James Tucker understands this stuff better than anyone. A lot of times, if I had an idea and it wasn’t quite playing or whatever, he would be like, “Give me the reasoning,” and eventually you’d be like, “Oh, OK. Of course. You’re right.” I don’t recall any knock-down, drag-out arguments. Not on this one (laughs).
TOONZONE NEWS: Then how about strangest decision you had to make?
RICK MORALES: Well, a lot of the situations that they get into are inherently absurd. I think the most ridiculous one was probably the number of times we went back and forth on the giant TV dinner setup. Are they tied up? How are they tied up? Are they sitting in the meat compartment, are they not in the meat compartment? Actually, that was probably as bad as it got.
QUESTION: How did this project come about for you?
JAMES TUCKER: My boss said, “Hey, we got Adam West to do a Batman movie, you want to do it?” Actually, he didn’t get to “you want to” before I was already working on it. So, yeah, the series did so well on DVD that I think they thought it would be a natural follow-up, and…you know, to have Adam West voice Batman again, that was amazing. People at Warners knew that I have a great fondness for that era of Batman, so I was just the lucky guy.
QUESTION: Did the Batman ’66 comic have any influence on it, or was it strictly the DVD release?
JAMES TUCKER: No, we were going concurrently, but it was more the DVD release and our work on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which had a lot of elements of 50’s and 60’s Batman in it. We didn’t reference the comic at all, but it was nice happenstance that that was going on at the same time. I guess it was just in the zeitgeist of what was going on. It’s time for this Batman to get his moment to shine again, since we’ve had a lot of the heavy, doom-and-gloom. I think the fans have gotten that serious Batman out of their system, so now it’s time to bring this one back.
TOONZONE NEWS: How was writing and producing this different from Batman: The Brave and the Bold?
JAMES TUCKER: The only difference was in that show, we were influenced by Adam West, and this time, we had him! (Laughs) So, it was the same thing. Basically, we came at it from the same standpoint. The only difference maybe is that this one, we knew we wanted to be overtly comedic, whereas Batman: The Brave and the Bold could be more serious. We tried different flavors per episode. Sometimes we’d have dark episodes, sometimes we’d have serious episodes, sometimes we’d have crazy comedic episodes. With this, we knew we wanted it to lean more towards the comedic side and the satire.
QUESTION: Obviously, this is the big milestone because it’s the 50th anniversary of the Batman TV series. I guess it’s a nice moment to celebrate that wonderful legacy.
JAMES TUCKER: I’m glad it worked out that way. Sometimes, things happen by luck more than planning, and (laughs) it worked out very well that this fell on those dates. But it wasn’t by design too much.
JAMES TUCKER: Because it was many episodes, some of them skewed one way or another. From my knowledge of the series, the first season was more on the line. It was more a wink at the audience, but there were more serious episodes than others. By the second season, it got very overtly comedic, and by the third it was just crazy. We kind of based our thing on mainly the tone of the 50’s comics, which were more Silver Age, and which I think influenced the show later in the series. But yeah, we’re definitely leaning towards…hopefully towards funny. But it’s Batman. He’s still Batman, no matter what. To me, Batman is always Batman: it’s just what tone you pick and what world you plop him in. He’s still the same kid whose parents were shot in an alley. It’s just this one chose to deal with it in a more hopeful way. He didn’t let the death in the alley taint his whole worldview. He’s actually more optimistic. He wants to bring happiness and he wants to save people from what he dealt with. So it’s not a vengeance thing. But it’s still valid to me. This Batman, to me, is a great Batman to jump off into, and my history with it was this was my first Batman, and then later on I got into the progressively darker comics. And because I started with this Batman, those seemed deeper because I started from such a bright, light place. Those changes were interesting, and as it got darker, it was cool for me, but I don’t know that I’d love it as much if I had started with a very dark version of the character. It’ll be interesting to see kids who only know the dark version seeing this one. They may think we’re crazy, I don’t know.
JAMES TUCKER: I went into it thinking, when they said we were doing it, I didn’t want it to replicate the show. I wanted it to be something that the show couldn’t afford to do, and take advantage of animation. So there’s Batman going to outer space, things of that nature. We pulled from elements that we used in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. The other thing was the lore about the show was that they were supposed to get a fourth season and I think NBC was supposed to take over the show, but at the last minute, the sets were all destroyed before that could happen. So my conceit doing this was, “Well, what if they got that fourth season but all the sets were destroyed and maybe some of the actors had moved on. So all you had was Adam West, Julie Newmar, Burt Ward, the costumes, and the Batmobile.” Everything else had to be recreated somehow. So, that’s kind of how we went into it. You’ll notice that there’s tweaks and slight alterations that pull more elements from the comic book into it. It’s just something to make it fresh. We didn’t want to just redo the series, because you don’t go anywhere doing that. You have a hundred episodes of that. So that’s kind of where we were going with it, to make it homage the show and homage the comic books that spawned the show, and put a little twist on it to make it it’s own thing.
TOONZONE NEWS: How did you get to take advantage of animation and do stuff that either physics or the budget wouldn’t have permitted? Are you going crazy with that stuff, or are you keeping it more reined in?
JAMES TUCKER: Well, it’s not Teen Titans Go! or anything. It’s steeped in the realism of actual humans doing things, but like I said, they go into space. You take advantage of the physics of their weaponry and the Bat-gadgets and the death traps and stuff.
QUESTION: What is it to you that made the original series so iconic?
JAMES TUCKER: It was, to me, the most inventive television series visually, musically…just the elements that make up that show have never been replicated, even though people tried to copy it. Especially for television of that time. It took advantage of the aspect of having color televisions, so it’s very saturated with color that you’d never seen up to that point. It set so many bars, and I think people have come to resent that show because a lot of people tried copying the feel. They thought that was the only way to do superhero shows, and people kind of bagged on that show, blaming it for the reason other shows were worse, when really, it was its own thing. When you just look at it as its own show, it’s incredibly innovative, funny, satirical. The jokes in that show that as you get older, you keep finding stuff. It’s a trailblazing, revolutionary show to me, and it doens’t get the proper credit for that, in my opinion.
JAMES TUCKER: Well, it’s in the trailer, so I guess that’s no surprise (laughs).
QUESTION: Would you say that that’s something that seems to be lacking in modern Batman movies? They’ve completely gotten rid of that line of communication.
JAMES TUCKER: Just the phone? (Laughter) But no, I didn’t miss the Bat-phone in The Dark Knight.
QUESTION: You were talking about it earlier about more light-hearted Batman vs. the darker Batman and how kids today are mostly exposed to the dark, brooding, vengeance-based Batman. What would you say to kids who have that disconnect? How do you think kids will respond to this?
JAMES TUCKER: From my own, unofficial observation I think kids are more open to the idea that there’s more stuff out there. Fans coming up in my time, and particularly in the 90’s, had set ideas about what was proper and what wasn’t. It was very uncool to like the Batman show in the 80’s and 90’s. Even if you secretly loved it, you could not voice that. And now because of YouTube and social media and the whole Internet, everyone has an opinion. So I think it’s easier for them to access stuff that’s new or different or came before them than it was for earlier generations. I think kids will embrace it. I hope so. There’s a level of fandom that will embrace some things, and some fandom that just wants it their way and that’s it. But I’m hopeful that kids will discover it because I think it’s a great Batman to discover.
TOONZONE NEWS: I suspect you’re going to say you can’t talk about this yet, but the press release mentioned “the new ‘DC Classics Collection’ brand”. It suggested that this is the first in a series of movies.
JAMES TUCKER: Uh…no, I can’t…(laughs) I can’t talk because we don’t know yet. A lot of it depends on what happens here. I think. Allegedly.
TOONZONE NEWS: So you can’t say anything about maybe a Lynda Carter Wonder Woman animated movie?
JAMES TUCKER: No. I know nothing.
QUESTION: What about more Batman ones?
JAMES TUCKER: It depends on how this one goes. That’s really the answer. I personally would love to do more, so this is in my wheelhouse. I do the other straight DC DTVs, too, and I like those as well, but this one is kind of what I was steeped in growing up. The reason I’m into comics is because of this kind of show. You guys will know when I know. Well, maybe a little later (laughter).
TOONZONE NEWS: I asked James Tucker this question, but I’d like to get your take on it. How did you look at writing and producing Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders differently than from Batman: The Brave and the Bold?
MICHAEL JELENIC: I think they’re similar in the sense that they’re both lighter Batman, but sitting here, discussing it with the press, I realized the difference between the two interpretations. In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Diedrich Bader took Batman very seriously, and he sort of grounded the show. So as ridiculous as that show could get or as weird or as funny, we always took Batman seriously. He always played the straight-man. In this version of Batman, he’s in on the joke and it’s sort of like Airplane! They were doing Airplane! 20 years before Airplane! Was doing it. Characters saying really ridiculous stuff but playing it completely straight. I think that Adam West’s genius is that he can pull that off. It’s a very hard thing to do, a performance that works on two levels. Because as a kid, we’d watch the show and think it was serious but as an adult, you realize half the things coming out of his mouth are meant for comedy. So I think that’s the difference. The world’s more humorous in general. The villains are more about being fun and there’s that poppy sort of 60’s sensibility throughout it.
QUESTION: What do you think makes this time right for a property such as this to be introduced to audiences today? Is it because we were young and we watched it, and we’re older now and can introduce it to our kids?
MICHAEL JELENIC: I just think it’s because there’s probably a void in lighter Batman. Everyone wants to make Batman as dark as possible. Five or six years ago, I was here, and I thought we’d seen Batman get as dark as he could get. But they were like, “No, no, he can get darker. We can take these characters further.” (Laughter) And that’s all legitimate and that’s all fun to do, but because that’s there, I think that there is a void that needs to be filled with a lighter Batman. A Batman that represents fun and that’s family friendly, and I think this is a perfect Batman for that. Something that works for adults and for kids.
QUESTION: And it’s the 50th anniversary of the TV show.
MICHAEL JELENIC: Yeah! I think the timing worked out very well. It’s serendipitous more than planned.
MICHAEL JELENIC: What kind of topical waters? I don’t think we got close to anything too topical on this. You could say that there’s a little bit of commentary on the different versions of Batman in this movie. This is like, doing a 60’s version of Batman but doing it through the lens of people who have seen the Nolan Batman and the darker Batman and having that influence your take on that Batman. Other than that, it’s not too topical.
TOONZONE NEWS: One thing I wanted to ask about was Batgirl, who does not seem to be in this. Is there any specific reason for that?
MICHAEL JELENIC: I think when this movie came together, we had the original deal with Adam, Burt, and Julie, and we talked about who else we could bring in. Believe it or not, there were conversations about if there would ever be a sequel, could we work Batgirl into it? And then, of course, Yvonne Craig died, but she may have been in poor health even before. But we talked about other things. I met Lee Meriwether at a Comic Con and we were talking about how we could get her to be in one of these. Or really anybody who was associated with that old show. But we got the main ones, so that’s pretty cool.
QUESTION: Are you planning to make any web series based on this?
MICHAEL JELENIC: I don’t know. I guess it all depends on how successful this is, but right now the plan is DTVs. If this one does well, I bet we’ll see another one. And if that one does well, I bet we’ll see other classic characters. But it all depends on whether this movie does well. But I don’t know about web series. Everything will be a web series soon enough. There won’t be any television soon (laughs).
MICHAEL JELENIC: I think James and I wanted to get our inspiration from the same places that the 1966 series got their inspiration, so we looked at the 50’s and 60’s comics. James really is an encyclopedia of this stuff. He knows every single sort of comic, and you know the storytelling is so different back then. Now it’s all hyper-realistic.
QUESTION: So all those Dick Sprang comics and such?
MICHAEL JELENIC: Yeah. And that’s all the same stuff we were doing in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, we were drawing from that as well. When we were starting to do Batman: The Brave and the Bold, they didn’t want us to say we were influenced by all by the 1966 series. That was what, 2009 or something? Comic book fans were not into the Adam West series because I don’t think they got that it was a comedy. I think they thought that the series was trying to be Nolan Batman and failing. So it’s kind of nice to see that six or seven years later, I think the comic book world is starting to embrace the 1966 Batman series. It’s like, “Oh, it was a comedy, and then this is a really interesting version of the characters.” I know there’s a big contingent of people who hate anything that’s lighter, or comedy-focused. I think more people are starting to embrace, “OK, this character can be interpreted more than one way.”
TOONZONE NEWS: I think Batman: The Brave and the Bold had a lot to do with that. I remember when the first art came out for that, people really just had no idea how to take it. When it finally came out, it made it OK to make lighter Batman and to say, “Yeah, I really did like the 1966 series and I don’t have to be ashamed of saying so any more.”
MICHAEL JELENIC: Yeah, I think the interesting thing about Batman: The Brave and the Bold was that there were real comic book nerds on that, and I think that’s what comic book fans want to see. They want to see information that they’ve accumulated reflected in their version of Batman, and they don’t necessarily want to see something that contradicts those stories. James is very meticulous about what sources he’ll bring from, and any comic book fan will go, “Oh that’s from a real comic story.” As ridiculous as that story is, it’s from a real comic book. “I know that cover.” So I think that helped, just James’ knowledge of comics. But you know, I work on Teen Titans Go! And nobody’s coming over on that side (laughs). Nobody’s saying, “That’s a cool, lighter version.” Well, kids are.
TOONZONE NEWS: I am, too. I feel like I may be one of the only people who does, sometimes.
MICHAEL JELENIC: Yeah, it’s a very successful show that a lot of people hate. (Laughter)
QUESTION: I kind of love it.
MICHAEL JELENIC: No, it’s successful. It does well, don’t feel bad.
MICHAEL JELENIC: I don’t know…with my job, and James’ and Rick’s job, every day is a ridiculous conversation. So we sort of lose track. It’s like, the stupid things you argue about. You take for granted that you’re talking about these imaginary characters who don’t exist, and you get into some debate over whether that would happen in this universe. I mean, all of our conversations are ridiculous. It’s just a matter of tone, and I think it’s like we would try to figure out what’s appropriate and what’s pushing stuff too far. But with this world, really nothing’s really going too far. It’s all broad, fun.
QUESTION: Obviously you feel like you have more flexibility than for example if this was a live-action Batman movie. Because it’s animated obviously you’ve got a bit more flexibility to push the envelope and have fun and do what you want.
MICHAEL JELENIC: Yeah, in animation, you say you can do whatever you want that you can draw, so as long as you have enough people who can draw the characters, the background, or you have enough money to draw it. That’s definitely what we wanted to do. Just make sure that this was bigger than even the 1966 series. We were doing stuff that couldn’t be done in the 1966 series and that was worthy of being animated.
QUESTION: So you feel like it’s a nice follow-up to 3 seasons of the show, and the movie. It fits well?
MICHAEL JELENIC: Well, it’s it’s own thing. As I’m sure they’ll all tell you, it’s not a recreation of the show. I think it’s in that spirit of the Dick Sprang comics and that version of Batman from the 50’s and 60’s and this lives very well in there. The audience will be the ones who decide, I guess.
MICHAEL JELENIC: Not specifically. But from the series, one thing that I always got a kick out of was the detective work and how it was just so ridiculous. I wanted to learn how to write like the detective work. How they’d piece together clues, which all sounded very smart, but if you sit down and think about it, you’d say, “they’re making REALLY big leaps right here!” So what I wanted to do was craft the detective work where Batman is making ridiculous leaps based on not really logic but really to fool you into thinking he sounds really smart. I’d watch the show to get that sort of spirit.
QUESTION: Was there ever a point when you’re watching the project unfold and thinking, “Oh my God, I’m dialoging Adam West Batman right now!”
MICHAEL JELENIC: Yeah. I will say I’m very busy and I did not have time to do this movie, but the fact that it was going to be Adam West, Julie Newmar, Burt Ward…I was like, “You have to let me do this.” Working with James Tucker again, I can’t pass that up. And if I foresaw two years ago, probably when we started, it’s like, “I want to be on a Comic Con panel with Adam West.” Today is the day that I get to be on a Comic Con panel with Adam West, so all the work was worthwhile. It’s pretty cool.
QUESTION: What was it like stepping back into the role? Was it easy to get back into it?
ADAM WEST: Yeah. It really was, because you do something, you play a character for three years, and then you get material that’s good, like these guys gave me. It really captures the tone of what we did, so it wasn’t that difficult. It wasn’t at all. It used to be that I’d go to work and I’d pull on that cowl, and immediately it was magic. You pull on the cowl, and you just become Batman. You want to go, “I get to play Batman!” and you get enthusiastic. That’s part of developing a character and it stays with you.
QUESTION: Was there room for improv or ad libbing? Did they allow it and did you throw in anything that they kept?
ADAM WEST: Well, I think the writing for this film was good enough that my challenge was “Let me try to do exactly the writer’s intent.” To see what I can do with it. That becomes a challenge for me. I think the people with whom I work appreciate that, but if it gets to a spot that you know damn well you can enhance something, make it better or whatever, they allow me to do that. Like with Family Guy.
QUESTION: Were there any particular challenges for voiceover compared with live-action? I know you’ve done a lot of voice acting in the past.
ADAM WEST: You know, the thing about it is sometimes you work with the animation coming after. They film or watch you with whatever you’re doing with the characters and that helps the animators. This time, with this project, we lip-synced to the animation. We had a chance to watch the film and then put it together as we went along. That was kind of fun. I liked that. Because you could see what the people involved were doing. I think they did a splendid job. I look at the poster over there…look at that thing! I mean, that really is an idealized but comic book 60’s look, isn’t it? And it’s kind of fun.
ADAM WEST: I guess….(laughter) You know, I ran into George Clooney…here, as a matter of fact, one time. And I started to say “George, you didn’t kill the Batman franchise!” But before I could open my mouth, he said to me, “Adam, I ruined the Batman franchise!” I said, “No you didn’t!” Different actors have different ways of doing things. They’re all very talented and good people and really good. But just because I’m better …(laughter) No, the only difference is that I made it funny. I’m a happier Batman.
QUESTION: To expand on that a little bit, what would be your Batman’s personal mantra to get into that character.
ADAM WEST: I’ll tell you what I did. I had some people who helped me by putting on makeup and with the costuming and so on, and I had an assistant, and I had a little house on the lot because the hours were very long. They actually gave me a cottage where I could stay overnight much of the time, so I could get up and get ready and go right to the stage. Well, they would come in and immediately switch on the kind of music I really like. I love jazz. I love big band jazz…Basie, Ellington, all those guys. So I would hear this…this is the preparation now…and it would get me going a bit. Then I’d get to the cowl. I’d look at it and I’d say to myself, “Oh my God, I’ve wear that thing again another day, it’s 180 degrees in it.” And then I’d think, “Wait a minute, this is the way you do it.” Put on the Batman cowl. “Hey, let’s go out and play Batman! You be Robin, I’ll be Batman!” That kind of child-like enthusiasm is really what keyed me into doing this, I think, the way I do it. You remember what you felt as a kid about the character, and then playing it. It’s that simple. And, of course, there were the years and years of Actor’s Studio (laughter).
QUESTION: So is it safe to say that Batman would be a fan of Benny Goodman?
ADAM WEST: Yes. Yes, it really would! (Laughter) Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Ellington, Charlie Barnet, yeah, all that stuff.
QUESTION: Did you find yourself in prepping for the voiceover work, doing a similar thing? Listening to the music, putting a mask on maybe?
ADAM WEST: Yeah, pretty similar. There’s a guy in Hollywood and he did one of the voices, and he did a recording. He wrote a song called “Wild West,” I believe. And you listen to that thing and it kind of gets the juices going a little. But you really have to somehow with a sense memory…I don’t mean to make actor talk…but conjure up the kind of enthusiasm and involvement. Almost child-like to do that kind of role the way I did it. Now to do a more brooding introspective, haunted Batman…I could do that. I used to do those roles, but I chose to make it funny. And I think I was OK.
TOONZONE NEWS: Did you get to record these radio style with other actors, or did you do most of it on your own?
ADAM WEST: Alone. You see, when you nail a character and you have it, you’re not finding your way with the other actors and so on, it’s simpler that way. And I think for most of us. To go in and do it and get out.
QUESTION: To what do you credit the lasting appeal of your version of Batman?
ADAM WEST: You mean how did that happen? You know, I think the longevity is owing to the fact that we did it seriously for the children, so they would be excited by it, but did it funny for the adults. They’d certainly be able to sit with the kids, and while the kids were taking it very seriously and dad began to laugh his head off, one kid would say to the other, “What’s he laughing at? That’s not funny!” But it was for the adults. Now, that was a tightrope. I’m not bragging, but to have to play the seriousness for the children and at the same time tongue-in-cheek for the adults. It seemed to work, because that’s my feeling why they still watch the show and why it’s lasted. This show of ours is probably been seen by more people and made more money, if you will, than any of the features, over time. It’s been out there for 50 years, for God’s sakes! (Click to listen) “I’m a senior superhero now, you little whippersnappers!”
Toonzone would like to thank Rick Morales, James Tucker, Michael Jelenic, and Adam West for taking the time to talk with us, as well as Super PR Guy Gary Miereanu for managing up the press roundtable sessions. Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders will be screening in a one-time theatrical event tonight, coming out on digital HD tomorrow and on DVD and Blu-ray on November 1, 2017.