How many people remember watching and loving a movie as a child and then have not watched it since then?
I know I have. Some children’s movies, like The Land Before Time and certain Disney movies, some non-children’s movies, like the first Superman movie or the Adam West Batman movie. Recently I’ve decided to travel back into my childhood, and find out whether some of the movies I loved decades ago live up to those my memories.
First up, Batman: The Movie (1966).
What I remember: Not much. I remember watching my VHS copy over and over again, and I have a vague memory of seeing the movie at least once with a friend. I also remember multiple villains, though not specifically which ones. What I do quite clearly remember is how much I loved the movie, despite not being a comics reader or having ever seen the television show.
Upon rewatching it for the first time in more than twenty years, I was truly surprised at how little I remembered. I had expected more memories to emerge as I watched. But what didn’t surprise me was that from the first moment, the first notes of the theme song, I found myself smiling. Things like the “Instant costume change lever,” Bat-everything, and intermittent “Thwack,” “Sploosh,” and “Ker-plop” visual sound effects continued to amuse me for the entire movie.
But somehow Batman just didn’t live up to my childhood memories. Maybe my expectations were so high that nothing would have matched the memories, maybe it’s the fact that I’ve actually read some of the Batman comics now. I’m certainly not trying to say that I didn’t enjoy seeing it again, I think I just wanted so much more. I wanted the validation that my memories were strong enough to overcome the reality.
And I was wrong.
I’m glad that I finally gave myself a reason to sit down and watch not only the first Batman movie I remember, but one of the first movies I remember watching. I do, however, find myself wondering a little if, subconsciously, it was the reason I never followed up my love of the movie with reading the comics. I’ll never stop loving the Adam West Batman movie, but I don’t have any desire to watch it again any time soon.
Maybe my next journey back in time will be better.