Yeah! That's the stuff!
As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate almost every single incarnation of Batman in some way, shape or form. Whether it's in the comic books, animation, live action, video games, cosplay, etc I can appreciate the love that everyone has for Batman.
Confession time - I never considered Adam West to be MY Batman. Michael Keaton and Kevin Conroy will always hold the crown in that regard. Now, having said that, I will say that I used to watch Batman: the Movie from 1966 over and over and over again. I remember being really little and seeing a couple of the original episodes on TV. However, they didn't do reruns of that after a while (I'm pretty sure it was on ABC) and I only had the movie to watch. I wasn't a big fan of the campy tone but I loved any and all things Batman as a kid so I gobbled it up.
After Batman and Robin, it seemed like demand for Batman was at an all time low. Batman Beyond was on TV and there were reruns of Batman: the Animated Series on Cartoon Network. I felt like I was the only kid that watched the original Batman movies and cartoons. It seemed like none of my friends liked Batman because he wasn't as popular anymore. Then I got to high school and I met a lot of people that loved Batman like I did! I couldn't believe it! We could talk about the movies, the cartoons, and all that jazz. Then Batman Begins came out in 2005 and EVERYONE started to see how awesome Batman was! It was an awesome experience.
I'm getting a little off track here . . . Let's go back to Mr. West.
One of my favorite episodes of B:TAS is "Beware the Grey Ghost." In this episode, Gotham City is being terrorized by someone calling himself "the Mad Bomber." Bruce remembers a TV show he watched as a kid called The Grey Ghost. One of the episodes featured a criminal calling himself the Mad Bomber. Bruce can't find any episodes on VHS (it was a different time) so he tracks down the actor, Simon Trent (played by Adam West). Bruce enlists Trent's help in catching the Mad Bomber. Trent is at first afraid and angry with Batman for tracking him down. He later teams up with him, wanting to help stop the Mad Bomber.
I love acting. I especially love actors that step outside of their comfort zones. Simon Trent / The Grey Ghost is a much different character than Bruce Wayne. If anything, he's probably closer to the real Adam West than anything. He's an out of work, depressed actor. He can't get any roles because every casting director in town thinks of him as The Grey Ghost. He's incredibly frustrated. When Batman approaches him, it annoys him thinking that Batman would come to him. What good can he do? He's just an actor! Trent eventually gives Batman a copy of "the Mad Bomber" episode to get rid of him. Batman, clearly disappointed says, "I used to admire what the Grey Ghost stood for." Trent angrily replies, "I'm not the Grey Ghost!" Batman retorts, "I can see that now."
Jeez . . . never meet your heroes kids. Anyway! Later in the episode, Batman is in trouble and is rescued by THE GREY GHOST!
Batman takes Trent back to the Batcave. Trent mentions how it looks like The Grey Ghost's lair. Batman admits that it was by design. He then shows Trent a secret room with lots of Grey Ghost memorabilia. He confesses, "As a kid, I used to watch you with my father. The Grey Ghost was my hero." Trent says, "So it wasn't all for nothing."
At the end of the episode, The Grey Ghost is back on the public radar and the series is released on home video. Trent is in costume, signing copies of the videos for fans. Bruce Wayne is one of those fans. He has a goofy smile on his face and says, "Please make it out to Bruce." Trent takes the video and signs it casually. Bruce starts to walk away but he turns and says, "You know as a kid I used to watch you with my father. The Grey Ghost was my hero." Trent smiles, obviously recognizing the quote, "Really?" Bruce uses his Batman voice to respond, "And he still is."
Ok . . . I'm literally choking up saying all this. This episode means a lot to me because as a kid, I was introduced to Batman through my parents. I remember my dad taking my whole family to see Batman Forever and Batman and Robin when they came out. I had big Batman birthdays. My mom loved going to those movies with me and watching them with me on video.
In a strange way, I think this episode was almost biographical for Adam West. Here he probably thought playing Batman was this one time thing that was fun, profitable, and he could leave it behind. Little did he know that his portrayal of Batman inspired millions of people around the world, some would go on to be famous actors, writers, directors, animators, etc. Batman means so much to so many people. Actors come and go, but the best ones leave behind a legacy. Mr. West was and always will be Batman for an entire generation.
Over the years, I've come to respect and love what his series did for Batman and his allies and enemies. I bought the series when it was released on Blu Ray and laughed and cheered at every episode. It saddens me so much that Mr. West has left us, but it brings me joy knowing that he'll never be forgotten.
RIP, old chum. You've earned the rest.
Till Next Time!
JJ - the Comic Junkie!
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