Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is the latest animated effort from Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment, one that pays homage to the 1960s Batman series in quite a few ways. First of all, there’s the designs of the animated heroes and villains that are pulled directly from the live-action TV/movie franchise. And almost as obvious is the voice cast, in which Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman) own top billing.
As for the rest of the cast, Steven Weber and Thomas Lennon play trustworthy butler Alfred Pennyworth and Chief O’Hara, respectively, with Jeff Bergman as the Joker and the revered Announcer, William Salyers as The Penguin, Wally Wingert as The Riddler, Lynne Marie Stewart as Aunt Harriett, Jim Ward as Commissioner Gordon, and Sirena Irwin as TV show host Miranda Moore. Now that the film is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Download, we thought we’d give you a few good reasons to check out Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders on home video.
First up: Nostalgia. This is the big selling point of Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. The feature Smacks! and Pows! its way onto your screen in an opening credits sequence that pays homage to the “Batman” comics and classic storylines. Not only does the movie bring back the iconic voices of West, Ward, and Newmar, it does so in the style of the classic 60s series. The creative team behind the animated film took pains to make sure the designs of the characters were spot on while also capturing the fun and personality of the villains with their voice casting. It’s a little jarring hearing West, Ward, and Newmar voice characters decades younger than their current selves but that’s just a minor quibble.
Second: The Story. Though the movie comes in just short of 80 minutes, there’s room in the narrative for both a campy criminal caper that’s neutralized by our title heroes, as you might expect, as well as an arc that features a decidedly darker side of Batman. The first part of the plot could have been pulled directly from one of the 60s shows but works just swell as an original tale. The second part comes as a departure from the do-gooder’s heroic and law-abiding personality we’ve come to know and love, and it’s both a subtle jab at more dour versions of Batman in the mythology and acts as a stamp that marks West’s version as a cunning and capable character.
(A brief aside, DC’s animated direct-to-video features have had a strange undertone of sexism that borders on outright misogyny of late–without taking Batman: The Killing Joke into account due to its mature subject matter and R rating–and unfortunately there are a couple of instances of this in Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. So while it’s the most kid-friendly Batman film released this year, it’s not 100% kid safe. Just a heads up.)