Years ago I did a set of “My Favorite/Not-So-Favorite Intro” articles going over a few different intros for Batman TV shows. Since then I’ve done these “Many Intros Of…” postings so I thought I would go over the entirety of Batman TV shows. As a bonus I’ll toss in the serials since serials were TV shows in theaters before there was television. There have been enough versions that this will at least be two parts.
There are many different interpretations of Batman. That is one of the character’s strengths. While Superman can’t be reinterpreted (and when he is you get Man Of Steel) but you can put him in all kinds of situations. Batman however has been both dark and light, dealt with criminals and aliens, and all of them have the potential to be good stories. A good intro should relay just what interpretation of Batman you’re getting and why he’s cool. The question is how well these intros do that.
The 1943 Serial
While the narrated part was changed out every week with recaps of the previous chapter, I left this one in because it introduced Batman and Robin to viewers who might not be aware of the comics. I don’t think they had their own radio drama but they did drop in on Superman’s a few times. That would make this serial their introduction to Batman, although changes were made between the comic and the first serial, as certain parties didn’t want to promote “lawless vigilantes” during World War II but did want to see the Axis representatives, in this serial the Japanese, get a beating. You can see more about that in my review of the serial. As for the intro itself, all you get is a static shot of the Batman image that looks like what the comics used for the longest time, the music having to carry most of the sale. That’s kind of normal for serials of the day and live-action intros even today, where they’re more interested in the cast and creator credits than showing how cool the show is going to be. At the time you were there for the entire matinee and that would include the serial.
The 1949 Serial (Batman And Robin)
I’m surprised I didn’t catch Bruce moving to the suburbs in my review of this serial. I also don’t know why they changed narrators partway through.
Anyway, this may actually be worse than the first one. The Dynamic Duo are back to their usual “vigilantes who work with the police” angle and we see a bit of that. However, the main intro itself is kind of uninteresting. Thrill to our heroes looking around confused while the new Batman actor is given an ill-fitting costume. Be amazed as our heroes drive around and maybe say something to each other at one point. Why can’t these intros so some exciting action?
Yes, I mentioned above they didn’t care. That’s not an answer.
The 1960s show
See? Like that.
While the song showcases the campier nature (and let’s face it the animation does as well) there’s a lot more action here. Batman and Robin are punching bad guys and sending them flying, then heading off in the Batmobile to find more bad guys to punch. It matches the style of the show perfectly and shows our heroes in action. Then in season three they added Batgirl and the intro was altered to reflect that.
For lack of a better term anyway. Batgirl swings in on a batrope with a batkick to the face, which at least allows her to fit in to the opening bit of the music, and then disappears until she cuts off the Batmobile on her Batgirl cycle. Did she even have the right of way? She doesn’t even get to join in the flying bad guy punching. She got robbed is what I’m saying.
The Adventures Of Batman With Robin The Boy Wonder
SEIZURE WARNING!!!!!! If you suffer from epilepsy or something similar triggered by flashing lights don’t click on the next video. Move to the review or the next video.
I’m not even kidding. Filmation did this for I think all of their DC cartoons, or at least most of them. Flashing color backgrounds are not dynamic, guys! Luckily they realized their mistake and stopped doing them, but not before this intro. Look, my love of Filmation is widely showcased here at the Spotlight but they did not make the best intros, with a few exceptions. The narration felt like they came out of radio dramas right up to She-Ra: Princess Of Power when it came to their animated action shows and even some of their live-action shows. This is another example of that. They might have been better off sticking to the theme music. Also, you’re not helping the “Batman and Robin aren’t gay” argument by having it look like Bruce, Dick, and Alfred are giving each other longing looks.
The New Adventures Of Batman
On the plus side the seizure-inducing backgrounds are gone. Too bad it got replaced by that darn siren! This is one of the “Not-So-Favorite” intros I reviewed before. Like I said then it sounds more like the advertisement than the actual episode. Burt Ward (Casey Kasem was doing the Super Friends version at the time, just as Olan Soule was doing Batman so Filmation got Adam West) is trying too hard to be dramatic while West does quite well. When Soule was changed over to Martin Stein when Hanna-Barbera brought in Firestorm and Filmation’s Batman license was finally up West began playing Batman there for the Super Powers seasons. Anything else you want to know just check in with the solo review. Suffice it to say this one wasn’t good either, fixing the original intro while creating new mistakes.
I really didn’t want to end on the best one for this first part but I have to balance the count in two articles or lose Saturday Night Showcase, so here we go.
Batman: The Animated Series
The Warner Brothers intro fades into the blimps that for some reason patrol Bruce Timm’s vision of Gotham and oddly work. Criminals blow up a bank which I would think would make it hard to steal from but I’m not a criminal so what would I know? Then the Batmobile jets off into the night. The criminals evade the cops by…warping space/time apparently, but a bat-like shadow is there to meet them. A fight breaks out but the winner was preordained anyway. The cops find the crooks all tied up as the camera pans up to reveal the bat shadow is Batman! All to a theme song trying to emulate the Danny Elfman score from the last Bat-movie and succeeding!
It’s just the perfect intro. It doesn’t even bother showing you the show title, figuring you know who Batman is by now and relying on the Fox Kids promo to tell you Batman was coming up next. That would work even better now as you actively seek out this version of Batman. It’s not the last one however. Tomorrow we have two more DCAU intros and four other non-related Batman cartoons.