I’ve been thinking about what to say all weekend, and I’m still at a loss for words, so let me start with this.
Adam West IS Batman.
The original Batman TV series was one of those shows that occupied my most early memories of entertainment, along with Star Trek and Lost In Space. It was campy, and bizarre at times. All these strange guest villains with the same incompetent henchmen, and sometimes those villains had different actors portraying them…but I didn’t care about that. Something about the show fascinated me. Probably something about all those high tech, extremely well labeled goodies in the Bat Cave and a car with a built in rocket motor.
Sure, other actors have since played Batman, with varying degrees of success…but I could never buy any of them as the “face” of Batman. I don’t know why, really. Michael Keaton always had a look of incredulity to me. Val Kilmer was too smug. George Clooney was, well…George Clooney – it’s always a version of himself. I didn’t care much for Christian Bale, and as for Ben…I like him in general (yes, I said it), but not as the face of Batman.
No one is the face of Batman other than Adam West. He looked smart, he looked wealthy, but not in a smug, I’m-better-than-you way. He was always thoughtful. And he took it all seriously despite the campyness of the show.
Unfortunately as was not uncommon at the time after playing such an internationally famous role, West had trouble landing starring roles after Batman, having been typecast. He spent several years just making personal appearances, and wherever he went he was instantly recognized as Batman. Things picked up again years later, and he made many guest appearances on shows, and then starting in 1999 he became a recurring character on Family Guy, voicing “Mayor Adam West”, a crazy caricature. He never seemed to lose his humor about it all, and continued making personal appearances on the convention circuit along side his longtime friend Burt Ward.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch up with him when he was most recently in this area, but he was to return for Boston Comic Con this August. A few weeks ago his schedule was updated as “postponed”…West passed away this past Friday at the age of 88 after a brief fight with leukemia. I’m sad that I’ve missed the chance to meet yet another major part of my childhood.