Following last year’s Return of the Caped Crusaders, Adam West and Burt Ward’s beloved Dynamic Duo are back for yet more cartoon capers. And this time, who’s that along for the ride? Why, it’s the duplicitous DA, Harvey Dent.
In terms of the plot of this animated affair, Professor Hugo Strange – along with his assistant, one Harleen Quinzel – claims to have created a fangled contraption that can remove the evil from those no-good villains who have plagued the streets of Gotham City for so long; most notably, Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Mr. Freeze and Egghead. Of course, all doesn’t go quite as well as promised, and the overworked machine ends up exploding a vat of chemicals all over poor Harvey. From there on out, the nefarious Two-Face rises up to cause all kinds of chaos across Gotham as Batman and Robin are on a race against time to save the day.
For those of you who checked out Return of the Caped Crusaders, you’ll know full well what to expect here. Just like its predecessor, Batman vs. Two-Face is a camp, cheesy and knowing revisit to yesteryear. Full of charm and warmth, the spirit and personality of the classic Batman series of the ‘60s is captured magnificently yet again, all with a loving nod and a wink. With West and Ward once more back in the saddle as the Caped Crusaders – not to mention appearances from fan favourites Julie Newmar and Lee Meriwether – this is a hugely enjoyable trip down memory lane. But while we have appearances from many characters familiar to fans of that original Batman show, the big new addition here is Two-Face. And not just any old Two-Face. William. Shatner. As Two-Face.
To any well-versed in Bat-lore, you’ll remember that Harvey Dent was somebody who never actually appeared in the classic Batman series. Harvey was considered for the show at several points, though, and Clint Eastwood was even being lined up to take on the role before Batman was canned in 1968. In recent years, we’ve seen Two-Face enter this world in DC’s Batman ’66 comic book title, but now he’s finally been brought to animated life. And boy, is it great to see this depiction of him, with Shatner on scintillatingly suave form and meshing marvellously with the already established Batman world.
Contained elsewhere on this release, we have a moving, emotive and hugely entertaining tribute panel to Adam West following his sad passing this June. Despite this movie only being released now, West had actually recorded his vocals for Batman vs. Two-Face back in October of last year, and the does-as-it-says-on-the-tin Adam West Tribute Panel featurette here sees his life celebrated by the likes of Kevin Smith, Ralph Garman and one-time Catwoman, Lee Meriwether. While a tribute to the truly iconic West was expected, it’s another featurette – The Wonderful World of Burt Ward – that threatens to steal the show, looking at Ward’s fascinating post-Robin life in which he specialises in the health and care of dogs (dubbing himself the “Canine Crusader” in a recent interview with ourselves). It really is a marvellous featurette and one that shines a whole other light on the ever-engaging famed Boy Wonder.
Sadly, Batman vs. Two-Face would prove to be Adam West’s swansong, but it’s a worthy way to bring West’s time under the cowl to a close. Rest well, Bright Knight, and thanks once again for so, so many memories. This is certainly a most splendid sequel, and this animated adventure is sure to prove a huge favourite of many genre fans both old and new.
Special Features: Adam West Tribute Panel / The Wonderful World of Burt Ward / Interviews with Burt Ward and Julie Newmar
BATMAN VS. TWO-FACE/ CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: RICK MORALES / SCREENPLAY: MICHAEL JELENIC, JAMES TUCKER / STARRING: ADAM WEST, BURT WARD, WILLIAM SHATNER, JULIE NEWMAR, LEE MERIWETHER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW