BAM! POW! PANEL!
Among other goodies, fans attending New York Comic Con got to see the world premiere of “Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders,” Warner Bros. Animation’s send-up to the iconic ’60 Batman TV series. The film reunites “Batman” stars Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar to reprise their roles as Batman, Robin and Catwoman, respectively, for an animated ode to the classic live-action series that cemented the Dark Knight as a pillar of pop culture.
Ahead of the showing, Warner Bros. Animation president Sam Register walked on stage to introduce the feature. “It’s kind of mazing that this is happening.”
Register reflected on the moment he convinced West to star in the film, “[I was] freaking out, ’cause it’s Adam West,” Register said giddily, “‘and he called me ‘old Chum.'”
After the film was shown, Register walked back on stage to ask fans what they thought — to a resounding applause.
Register then introduced director Rick Morales, producer/writer Michael Jelenic, producer/writer James Tucker and Mr. West himself. West’s introduction was — naturally — met with a standing ovation.
Register, moderating the panel, asked West why his incarnation of Batman is so iconic, to which he joked, “My legs,” then answered seriously, “we played it to the whole family. When you do the thing with a little humor, and it’s not terribly serious — you know what I’m saying.”
He continued, “I’m the happy Batman. I’m the funny Batman…to have the opportunity to jump back in was a beautiful thing. After doing it for so many years…it all makes it worth while.”
West joked, “I mean…the $20 million was good.”
Tucker addressed his decision to do the film, referring to his series “The Brave and the Bold” as a warm-up. He noted how he and Jelenic thought that series was the closest thing to doing Adam West’s Batman — an incarnation near and dear to their hearts.
“Brave and the Bold [was an homage] to the classic series,” Tucker said. “The genius of the ’66 series is Adam’s performance. He’s so funny without trying to be funny…he says the funniest things but takes it so seriously. It takes the funniest talent to say those things so seriously.”
Register then asked Morales how he took the motifs and translated them to the new film. Morales joked, “I listen to everything [Adam West] says.” He continued, “A lot of it was in the writing…they homaged the original show really well.”
Register interjected, “And you got to use that Batmobile!”
Jelenic added, referencing his favorite aspect of working on the film, “My favorite part of writing this was the detective work. In the show they’d make these leaps of logic, but as a kid you think these are the smartest people who ever lived!”
Tucker said, “I love how much of a horn-dog Aunt Harriet is.”
Discussing the original series, West praised his fellow cast members, thanking them for their ability to take the material seriously and create such an iconic world.
Saying one of his regrets of the film, Jelenic said he wanted the pop song “Miranda,” but noted that he didn’t get the rights. West’s Batman was originally supposed to sing the song in the film. So, West gave a taste of it for the audience.
Register then opened the floor for questions. A fan came up to ask why some characters were changed a bit from the original series, referencing the lack of moustache on the Joker.
Tucker joked, “Uhh, all those people are dead?”
Answering seriously, Jelenic noted that they wanted to make it slightly different from the original show, as to not completely duplicate it.
West then responded to a fan who asked if he’d return for another outing as Batman: “I’d be willing to do anything connected to Batman as long as the material is as good as what these people produce.”
Jelenic then asked West to commit to a sequel on the spot — to which West said, “…I don’t know.”
Another fan asked how West managed to keep the “same voice for all these years.” West said, “Well, I guess gargling with vodka…”
Responding to a fan who requested if he could cameo in a live-action DC Comics-based series, West said, “I’d love to do the Grey Ghost. So many people ask me about that.”
When another person came up to ask if he could cameo in a DC Film, West said, “Just give me a call…we’ll see.”
Addressing the writers, a fan asked how they managed to give a female character — referring to Catwoman in the film — more agency than they did in “The Killing Joke.” Laughing, Tucker said, “There’s a word for you sir, but we can’t say it in this crowd.”
Jelenic joked, “We don’t know what the word agency means.”
A man dressed as the classic ’60s Penguin was then asked to come on stage. After squawking a but, Register told the fan “Get outta here, you’re a villain!”
Asked about his thoughts on the “Batman ’66” comic, West remarked, “I read [a comic] once.” Seriously, West said he reads comics now because of their sophistication, remarking on the medium’s evolution over the years.
Told he should do the Batusi on stage from one fan, West said, “I’d love to but I have a date later…you really can’t do it without the cape and cowl.”
Register closed the panel by revealing a sequel to the film — one that would feature a character that never appeared on the ’66 series. He then showed a silhouette that looked a lot like Two-Face — which then faded away to reveal a video with William Shatner…
In the video, Shatner revealed the name of the new film — “Batman vs. Two-Face” — starring West as the Caped Crusader, once again, and Shatner as Harvey Dent/Two-Face.
“Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders” releases October 11 on Digital HD, and November 1 on Blu-ray and DVD. The film is set to screen its World Premiere this weekend at New York Comic Con.
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