Adam West. the Batman of my childhood, died at 88

From Variety

Adam West — an actor defined and also constrained by his role in the 1960s series “Batman” — died Friday night in Los Angeles. He was 88. A rep said that he died after a short battle with leukemia.

“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight, and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero,” his family said in a statement.

West became known to a new generation of TV fans through his recurring voice role on Fox’s “Family Guy” as Mayor Adam West, the horribly corrupt, inept and vain leader of Quahog, Rhode Island. West was a regular on the show from 2000 through its most recent season. West in recent years did a wide range of voice-over work, on such shows as Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken” and Disney Channel’s “Jake and the Neverland Pirates.”

But it was his role as the Caped Crusader in the 1966-68 ABC series “Batman” that defined West’s career.

With its “Wham! Pow!” onscreen exclamations, flamboyant villains and cheeky tone, “Batman” became a surprise hit with its premiere on ABC in 1966, a virtual symbol of ’60s kitsch. The half-hour action comedy was such a hit that it aired twice a week on ABC at its peak. But within two seasons, the show’s popularity slumped as quickly as it soared.

West’s portrayal of the superhero and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, ultimately made it hard for him to get other roles, and while he continued to work throughout his career, options remained limited because of his association with the character.

Adam West’s Batman definitely wasn’t the sociopath we know and love today. His Batman had a kiddie show quality with lots of bright colors and ’60s go-go music:

Today’s Batman would mumble and drop you off a building. In a battle between the Dark Knight vs. the Bright Knight, the Batman of the ’60s would be destroyed.

But I was a kid in the ’60s, and my life revolved around the two days of Batman episodes in the middle of the week on ABC television. Same Bat time, same Bat channel.

Adam West and Burt Ward were in DC (the city, not the comic company) a year ago at Awesome Con, talking about the old days:

Another icon of my youth, gone.

A look at Wonder Woman’s past

Jill Lepore in the New Yorker observes:

Superman appeared in 1938, Batman in 1939, Wonder Woman in 1941. Of the hundreds of comic-book superheroes created in the nineteen-thirties and forties, only these three have lasted, uninterrupted, since they began. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have also been battling evil together since 1942, following a poll that asked readers, “Should Wonder Woman be allowed, even though a woman, to join the Justice Society?” (I once wrote a book called “The Secret History of Wonder Woman,” and so it is with the weighty burden of academic authority that I can report, for the record: 1,597 kids said yes and 203 said no; 197 of the naysayers were boys. I cannot fathom what those six girls were thinking.) But, in a foreshadowing of what was to come, Wonder Woman became the Justice Society’s secretary. “Good luck, boys!” she’d call after the men, while she stayed behind, at headquarters, answering mail. Ever since, she’s been the Cinderella of the family: overlooked and neglected, and yet plainly the best of them.

There have been nine movies about the Man of Steel and twelve about the Caped Crusader, not to mention dozens more featuring obscure, lesser, and better-left-forgotten male comic-book characters, including such cut-rate back-benchers as Ant-Man, Meteor Man, Doctor Strange, and Swamp Thing. But this is the first film ever made about the Princess of the Amazons, even though she’s the most popular female comic-book superhero of all time. “Suffering Sappho!” as Wonder Woman liked to say. Directed by Patty Jenkins, whose credits include the 2003 film “Monster,” which she both wrote and directed, but which do not include any superhero movies, and starring the relatively unknown but terrifically cast Israeli actress Gal Gadot, “Wonder Woman” starts off outnumbered by Superman and Batman, twenty-one to one. She is disadvantaged by the impossible standards and fixity of malice that attach to work by women entering fields dominated by men; and vulnerable, too, to the condemnation of women, whose complaints about the film have so far included something to do with armpit hair. Merciful Minerva.

The amazon and the furious

This is in the theaters in a month:

But it hit me when I saw the latest “Fast and Furious” movie (“The Fate of the Furious”) that I’d seen Gal Gadot in an action movie before:

See, I never thought she died in F&F 6. She just fell out of the scene in the chase on the runway that took an hour and went back to Paradise Island (or Themyscira if you really want to be technical about it.)

And besides, that makes more sense than a plane taking forever to get off a ground, even when you put everything in real time: