5 Reasons to Check Out ‘Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders’ on Blu-ray
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.)
Third: The Characters. Sure, Batman and Robin take center stage here, and the super-popular villains Catwoman, Joker, Riddler, and Penguin provide plenty of antagonistic power, but Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders also folds in a ton of supporting characters from the 60s series. First and foremost on the heroic side are Aunt Harriet (Dick Grayson’s aunt), Alfred Pennyworth, Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara. The villainous side is much more colorful and there are a lot of surprising fiends who turn up. Which villains, you ask? How about (mild spoilers; highlight to read) Archer, Black Widow, Bookworm, Clock King, Egghead, False Face, King Tut, Louie the Lilac, Mad Hatter, Minstrel, Mr. Freeze, Sandman, Shame, and Siren, just to name a few! (There’s even a very clever little joke referring to the TV show’s three actors who played versions of Catwoman.) Definitely a highlight of the movie for fans of the original series.
Fourth: Bat-Puns! As you might have guessed, the iconic Batmobile–the red-and-black custom job by George Barris–is on full display in this movie, as are an excellent rendering of the Batcave (complete with secret access switch and fire poles) and other Bat-tastic additions. There’s a good joke related to the Bat-Analyzer (which is one of very few self-referential jabs in the feature, thankfully) and nods to the Bat-Copter, Bat-Boat, and Bat-Binoculars, plus a super-sized Bat vehicle you’ll have to see to believe. And though the fights throughout the feature are every bit as iconic as they are entertaining, a stand-off between two surprise com-Bat-ants goes all in on the pun fun.
And finally: Special Features.
- Those Dastardly Desperados (~10-15 mins.) – Behind the scenes with the voice acting cast, both the heroic and the villainous. Plus, screenwriters Michael Jelenic and James Tucker, and Mike Carlin (Creative Director, Animation DC Entertainment) weigh in.
- A Classic Cadre of Voices (~10 mins.) – Specifically a voice acting featurette with West, Ward, Newmar, Wingert, Bergman, and Salyers, plus Tucker, Carlin and voice director Wes Gleason. Great technical tips and background for voiceover and voice acting.
- A Sneak Peek at Batman vs. Robin – A look at the animatics continuation from the Son of Batman storyline, plus director Jay Oliva, producer James Tucker, voice director Andrea Romano on the story and its elements, the look of the film, and how it all came together. There’s more from voice actors Jason O’Mara, David McCallum, Jeremy Sisto, and Robin Atkin Downes, plus the bizarre Dollmaker as voiced by ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.
- A Sneak Peek at Son of Batman – Co-producer Alan Burnett, director Ethan Spaulding, James Tucker and Mike Carlin lead this behind-the-scenes featurette of the adaptation of Grant Morrison‘s tale. Cool looks at animatics, concept art, and design of the animated feature. Andrea Romano also weighs in on the story and the characters within it, along with input from Jason O’Mara, Stuart Allan, Morena Baccarin,
- Trailers for: DC TV Brands (Supergirl, Gotham, The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow), Wonder Woman (live-action and animated), and The LEGO Batman Movie