Adam West, star of the popular and campy television show Batman from the 1960’s, died Friday night after “a short but brave battle with leukemia,” his family said in a Facebook post. He died at the age of 88.
Despite people’s opinions on the show, many celebrities, and ordinary people have come together to mourn the death of a great man. What many people may not know is that Adam West’s show is what saved the comic book character of Batman from being killed off and forgotten.
After World War II, there were people that did not want to read about superheroes because they did not want to read about violence and crime. They just wanted to live in peace and enjoyment. When Adam West’s Batman show premiered, DC Comics changed the comics to match the style of the show, thus allowing Batman to live.
Batman is known as the Dark Knight and is usually portrayed in a dark and serious manner. There is a whole generation of readers and television watchers that are unaware of the 60’s era Batman. It is fine if you prefer Batman as a dark and serious but that doesn’t mean Adam West’s show did not provide enjoyment of it’s own. Adam West as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Burt Ward as Dick Grayson/Robin were seen fighting some of Gotham’s worst villains with the occasional onomatopoeia popping up on screen after a punch is thrown. West was known as the Bright Knight compared to the other depictions of Batman out there, a name that honors him and his legacy.
For fans of Batman: The Animated Series, a great episode to watch would be the eighteenth episode titled “Beware the Grey Ghost.” The story of the episode is that a villain from the Grey Ghost tv show has set off a series of bombings in Gotham. Batman must recruit the help of the Grey Ghost himself, voiced by Adam West, in order to stop this threat. What is great about this episode is that they could have easily made fun of the campiness of the 60’s era, but instead, they chose to honor it. By having Adam West return to the Batman franchise, the creators showed that just because it was campy does not mean it was horrible.
Geoff Johns, President of Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment, released a statement saying, “Like many others, Adam West as Batman was part of my childhood. Watching those reruns every day after school, Batman made reading comics that much more real for me growing up.”
On October 11, 2016, DC released the movie Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders which was a way of returning to the 60’s era one last time with Adam West and Burt Ward reprising their roles as Batman and Robin.
It brought back the silliness and campiness of the original show and was met with delight by both critics and audiences.
DC Comics also had Batman ’66 comics on shelves for a while so fans of the show can still enjoy Adam West’s Batman even when the show is off the air. Whether you like the 60’s show or not, Adam West played an important role in Batman’s history and will be missed by many. Rest In Peace Bright Knight. Rest In Peace Adam West. You will be missed.
Watch: Adam West Screen Test Footage