Holy heartbreak, Batman. On Jun. 10, legendary actor Adam West, best known for his iconic role as the titular hero on the 1966 Batman television series, died at age 88. But unbeknownst to fans, West had been battling illness, and he’d remained active in his career right to the end.
For generations of fans, West was the first actor to take Batman out of the comic book panels where he was normally found, and bring him to life on the screen. The show was much different that what people may think of the character nowadays; it eschewed the darkness of the Dark Knight, in favour of a bright, colourful, campy, and humorous tone. When watching the show as a child, you were, of course, completely invested in the adventures of Batman and Robin, no matter how ridiculous they were. But as an adult, you can look back at the show and laugh at its rather clever moments of wit and comedy.
Part of what made the show work so well was West himself. His performance was the heart and soul of the series, and even when he was delivering the most laughable lines of dialogue, or fighting the goofiest villains, he played his role completely straight, never wavering in his delivery. Batman was a justice-driver, a rigidly moralistic fighter of crime, not even a vigilante, but a “duly deputized agent of the law.”
Some fans don’t think West’s Batman has a place in the character’s pantheon, as its tone is so different that most modern interpretations of the character. However, what makes Batman such an endearing character is the versatility of his mythos, and West’s portrayal is just one of the many unique, though equally valid versions of the Bat-universe, and West has more than earned his place in the Batman legacy.
Though he was a talented actor, after the series ended, West found himself having been typecast as the Caped Crusader. He struggled to get out of Batman’s shadow, and never really had any other iconic roles. He did find some success in voice work later in life (many fans will undoubtedly remember him as the mayor in Family Guy), but in the end, he embraced his stature as the hero, and was a mainstay at comic conventions and expos, frequently interacting with his fans. He even returned to the role, voicing the character in last year’s Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders animated film. A culture icon, West has left behind a body of work to be immensely proud of.
Over the years, West has found a special place in the hearts of audiences and fans. His name has become synonymous with Batman’s, and though his death is a tragic loss, he will live on forever as millions of fans remember him as their blue and grey clad hero.
(Feature Image: 20th Century Fox/WB)