(or simply Batman
) was a 15-chapter serial released in 1943 by Columbia Pictures. The serial starred Lewis Wilson as Batman and Douglas Croft as Robin. J. Carrol Naish played the villain, an original character named Dr. Daka. Also starring Shirley Patterson as Linda Page (Bruce Wayne's love interest), and William Austin as Alfred.
The plot is based on Batman, a US government agent, attempting to defeat the Japanese agent Dr. Daka, at the height of World War II. Dr. Daka possessing a dangerous device able to turn people into Zombie-like creatures. It also features an insanely ornate office-type Batdesk.
The film is noteworthy as Batman
's first film and live action depiction as well as being the inspiration for the 1960s TV show that popularized Batman.
In addition, this film marked the first appearance, film or print, of the Batcave. It also spawned a sequel serial called Batman & Robin
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if you're looking for the other animated Batman series.
Tropes associated with this work:
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Tito Daka is...not a Japanese name.
- Canon Immigrant: Several (surprising) examples:
- The idea of the Batcave (called the Bat's Cave in the serial), with an entrance through the grandfather clock, originated in this serial before moving over the comic books.
- The visual appearance of Alfred in the comic books was changed to match that of the actor in the serial; prior to this, Alfred was portrayed as a portly, clean-shaven butler.
- Cliffhanger Copout: Continuity is tweaked for nearly every chapter ending, recapped at the beginning of a following chapter. For instance, Chapter 13, "Eight Steps Down," ends with Batman stuck in a Death Trap in which spiked walls are closing in on him, which is cut away from just before the walls are about to crush our hero with no hope in sight for rescue. Then, the beginning of Chapter 14, "The Executioner Strikes," shows Robin appearing much earlier during the same scene with more than enough time to slip Batman a crowbar to brace the walls moving in. In turn, the conclusion of Chapter 14 shows Batman locked in a box and dropped in an alligator pit only for the next chapter to show that Robin managed to break Batman free in secret much earlier and replace him with a hapless mook.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Batman locks a Mook in a room full of bats, to try and loosen his tongue.
- Modern Minstrelsy: The Japanese Tito Daka is played by Irishman J. Carroll Naish.
- Shark Pool: Daka has an alligator pit.
- Thememobile: Averted, in that the low budget of the serial prevented the studio from building or procuring a Batmobile for Batman and Robin. Rather, Batman and Robin ride around in Bruce Wayne's limo - with Alfred driving!
- Where The Hell Is Springfield?: The serial takes place in Gotham City, but Wayne Manor's address is stated to be in Los Angeles, California.
- Yellow Peril:
- The villain, Dr. Daka, is a stock WWII era Japanese villain. Played by J. Carroll Naish, an Irish-American actor.
- The narration and dialogue in the serial makes very clear who was fighting whom in WWII. The opening narration describes how "a wise government rounded up the shifty-eyed Japs" to explain the abandoned part of town in which Daka operates.