Behind the Cowl: Adam West's take on Batman's powers and purpose

How the original Batman redefined the Dark Knight.

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

Batman is a canvas. Since the character's inception, countless artists and writers have cast their fears and virtues onto the Caped Crusader. Each new adaptation is a permutation, with each variation stretching the theme in surprising directions. That's why Batman has been a detective, a vigilante, a ninja, a father, and always a son. As new creators don the cowl year after year, each leaves a piece that wasn't there before. Batman is a lot of things, and sometimes all of them at once.

Because Batman contains such multitudes, people often identify the character with the version that was popular during their childhood. For many, the Dark Knight will always be Adam West from the 1966 Batman television series. While his version of the hero was campy and funny, West understood that he was part of an already-decades-long history. So, from his vantage point as Bruce Wayne 27 years into the character's lifespan, what was West's understanding of Batman?

In 1966, a writer from the Liverpool Echo asked Adam West whether he thought Batman had any paranormal powers.

"No I do not see Batman as anything supernatural at all," said West. "He is not so much a supernatural being, as more... merely one of nature's novelties!"

"Yes, that's how I see Batman, one of nature's novelties. It is a terrific show, as you can see we are working long hours—start at eight in the morning and go right through to 10 or 11 at night. We work like that five days a week. I insist on having the weekends off."

Justice never sleeps, and Batman is a lone vestige of shadowy vengeance. Even so, Adam West fought for the best conditions possible for the cast and crew of his Batman.

"I am trying to work this series my way," said West. "We are all a good happy team on Batman. So I am with the electricians, greeting everyone—we are all important to each other here, at least that's how I see it. Yes, of course, we are all a team, and I am not going to get swollen-headed.

"After all, I have been acting for 12 years— I am 32 now and this is my job, so what is there to get all up about? This is why I want to know everyone on the set. And it doesn't matter what their job is, they are one of us. I think it is a happy crew and we are trying to keep so."

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6 Comments

JeffPaul76 26 days ago
Adam West was the Batman for me, I didn't and don't like Michael Keaton's version of Batman.
JHP JeffPaul76 6 days ago
amen- a-roni - bullseye for you
ncadams27 28 days ago
The Batman I grew up with was the late 50’s / early 60’s era, before the 1964 “new look” with the yellow bat insignia. The TV show used that version of the costume. Some people think the Aunt Harriet character was developed for the TV show, but she was added to the comic book stories shortly before the show began. I stopped reading the comics around the time the show ended.
Adamtwelvia 28 days ago
He is THE Batman to me! Accept no substitutions!
Tresix 28 days ago
Adam West was NOT the original Batman: Lewis Wilson was the first (and youngest at 23) in 1949’s “The Batman”. Next was Robert Lowery in “Batman & Robin” in 1949.
MrsPhilHarris 29 days ago
32 years old. As a kid I would have thought he was incredibly old. Now I think I would love to be in my thirties again.
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