Remembering Adam West’s Batman

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Beloved TV actor Adam West recently passed away after a battle with leukemia. West was 88, and is said to have spent his last moments comfortable and surrounded by family members.

In recent years West became known for voicing the mayor of Quahog on the popular animated comedy Family Guy (the mayor also being named Adam West). But to previous generations, he’ll always be best known for his portrayal of the legendary comic superhero Batman on the 1960s television series.

For a lot of people, this series is still among the most memorable portrayals of Batman, in part because it was so unique. West’s version of the character has been noted for its self-awareness, almost more akin to Will Arnett’s vocal performance as LEGO Batman in recent movies than any live action counterpart. The ’60s show was intentionally campy, and as such may have been the most fun and amusing superhero television show to date. Sets, sound effects, and costumes were all on the goofy side, but West’s work in the role brought it all together because he made it absolutely clear that it was supposed to look the way it did.

That may be why the series seems to have endured surprisingly well for a ’60s TV show that’s now outdated in every sense of the word. Perhaps most surprising is the fact that the themes and scenes still show up in today’s video games—at least online. You’ll find a cavalcade of caped crusaders featured as licensed material supporting plenty of slot reels and casino games around the internet. And while most of them hail from more recent films and interpretations, there’s actually several of these games that use West and his fellow cast members for backdrop. There’s just something delightful about the atmosphere of a campy Batman show that continues to entertain audiences today.

There also seems to be a lingering respect for West’s take on the character that goes beyond chuckling at his antics. A recent ranking of Batman actors that took into account both live action and voice performances put West ahead of all other live action versions, including the recent ones by Ben Affleck and Christian Bale. That might be considered a bold take by many modern fans, but the reasoning is sound. As the article put it, West simply had a greater influence over the character than most or all of his counterparts, even going so far as to affect the direction of some of the Batman comics that were released in the aftermath of his show. His take may have been a wry and silly one, but also led to a lot of the Batman material we now take for granted.

All things considered, Adam West’s Batman was a show that looked campy even in its own time. But because it operated fully aware of its kitsch factor and still managed to provide us with one of the most iconic Batman roles of all time, it can rightly be called one of the more impactful shows of the last 60 years. West was truly a legendary actor who will be sorely missed from the screen.

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