There have been a lot of actors who played Batman, some who probably shouldn’t have. But even those who were in much-derided installments of the films were able to walk away and do other things. They weren’t forever known as The Guy Who Played Batman.
George Clooney wasn’t held to the cape and cowl. Maybe that’s because most of us want to forget that he ever did it in the first place.
Val Kilmer has done other things. Not much, maybe, but he’ll be thought of as Iceman much more often than as Batman.
Christian Bale? His Batman will be remembered fondly, and maybe sooner than some of his roles. But he can still do pretty much whatever he wants.
Ben Affleck? We won’t even start that debate here.
But poor Adam West? That guy is Batman. Sure, he also does himself, after a fashion, as Mayor of Quahog on Family Guy. But he’s doing a nearly-senile version of the camp that was his Batman series.
Adam West recently talked about his tenure as the Caped Crusader. When he first got offered the part, he was of two minds.
“I thought, ‘I’m trying to have a serious career,’” he told the Seattle Times. But then he read a couple of scripts.
“I fell down laughing,” said West. “I said, ‘I have got to do that.’ It was easy. Your sense memory comes back to when you were a kid playing Batman.”
“From the moment I read that first script by Lorenzo Semple Jr., I said, ‘Sign me up.’ I found it so amusing, so incredibly funny, but so exciting for kids that I just wanted the chance to cook with that character.”
Many people who have watched West’s turn as Batman both as kids and then again later as adults remark that it is really a grown-up show with adult humor.
“It was an absurdist comedy and a social satire,” said West. “We worked very hard to shape it in that direction — fun for the kids and exciting for adults who could get the laughs.”
West does admit that the character hung on him for a long time.
“There were a number of times that happened,” West said. “You get terribly typecast playing a character like that. But in the overall, I’m delighted because my character became iconic and has opened a lot of doors in other ways, too.”
West has learned to embrace the role he is best known for. He has a fan base that continues to grow, even thoguh the show was originally done in the 1960s. It plays in re-runs even today.
“It was a classy show,” said West. “I have become convinced that everything that is classy doesn’t go away.”
“People love Batman, and I would be stupid, I would be a fool if I didn’t love Batman,” said West. “ There is no better way to keep a career going and keep your fans.”
Given how much fun his version of Batman was, does West ever grieve over how dark the character originally was, or how dark he has been portrayed on film since then?
“I don’t even think about that stuff,” he said. “They have the Dark Knight. I was the Bright Knight.”