You’d be forgiven if you detected a hint of melancholy hanging over this year’s Fan Expo Canada. Three out of the four surviving cast members of the original Star Trek series cast are here to mark the 50th anniversary, and there’s an entire section called the Stan Lee Zone dedicated to the Man’s final Canadian appearance. But two more 60s icons are calling it day after the show’s doors close on Sunday, and they are Batman and Robin, Adam West and Burt Ward. The two appeared at Fan Expo Friday morning for their final Q&A before retiring from regular convention appearances.
It seems weird that the two would looking to take it easy just as their legacy from the ABC Batman series, which ran for three seasons from 1966 to 1968 and included one big screen adventure, is starting to heat up. The series finally found its way to DVD and Blu-ray last year, and in just a little over a month is the release of a new project that the pair lent their voices to, a brand new animated Batman adventure.
“It’s pretty wild,” said Ward of the upcoming Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. “The best way to describe it is that if you like some of the things about our series, plus some of the darker films since, then that’s what you can expect this to be. You’re going to be shocked at what happens, I wasn’t expecting [it].” West added, “It’s a wonderful mix of all things Batman for the last 50, 60 and 100 years. You’re going to love it.”
Propriety obviously prevented West and Ward from going into too many details about the future, so much of the Q&A stuck to the past. For instance, did you know that the Batmobile was more of a death-mobile.
“The breaks weren’t good, the suspension was lousy, the seats were so uncomfortable, and the steering didn’t work, and I think that Burt Ward is the most courageous actor I’ve ever worked with because he got into the Batmobile with me driving,” said West half-jokingly.
Indeed, Ward’s first days on Batman were fraught with peril, including five trips to the emergency room in the first five days of production. One stunt in particular from the ’66 Batman movie involved a motorcycle stunt gone awry. “That sidecar was very unpredicatable, and it turned too quickly,” Ward explained. “When I pressed the button, as per the script, it was supposed to chase the villain in a very straightforward way, but Burt sped out of control and went off the pier and into the ocean,” West added. “We had to get him out with a net.”
“We tried so hard to get rid of him, but we did’t do it, and I think that’s a great tribute to his persistence,” West said with a laugh.
Other remembrances included Ward recalling how his old friend, neighbour and sparring partner Bruce Lee filmed his first on-screen fight for the Batman/Green Hornet crossover episode, and how, unlike recent superhero fights, the whole thing was scripted as a draw so that all the good guys could still look good. West, meanwhile, politely declined an offer to do the Batusi because he couldn’t do it without the cape and cowl. Both were asked for their favourite villain, and while West went to his default, Catwoman, Ward had an unconventional answer. “Vincent Price as Egghead was fun because Adam and I had the chance to get into this gigantic egg fight,” Ward said gleefully. “As a kid I always got into trouble for throwing eggs, but then i got paid to throw eggs.”
In summation though, it’s been a thrilling ride for the dynamic duo who are still recognized for their signature roles almost five decades after their show ended, and after five different actors have taken on the mantle of the bat in eight different live-action movies. “You know, to see the crowd here, who wants the $20 million payday when it’s so wonderful that you people have been our loyal fans for so long and I want to thank you,” said West. “I’ve done some of the worst turkeys in the history of Hollywood, but I’m still here because if you really have a sense of people and you care about them, then you stick around a little longer.”