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Film / Batman and Robin (Serial)

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No, not that Batman & Robin.

The sequel to Batman's film debut, the 1943 movie The Batman, Batman and Robin was released in 1949 by Columbia Pictures and served as a sequel serial, consisting of fifteen chapters in a similar way as the original. Robert Lowery played Batman, while Johnny Duncan played Robin. Supporting players included Jane Adams as Vicki Vale and veteran character actor Lyle Talbot as Commissioner Gordon.

The plot dealt with the duo facing off against the Wizard, a hooded villain whose identity remains a mystery throughout the serial until the end. The serial covers their adventures in attempting to thwart the Wizard's nefarious deeds.

The serial got the RiffTrax treatment in 2013, with a new short released every month, taking over a year to complete.

See also The Batman for the original Batman film. This along with the film serial before it also inspired the 1960s TV series.

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The Batman and Robin serial provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Artistic License – Physics: Remote control does not control any electronic device in a 50 mile radius, let alone machines that haven't been equipped to be remote controlled.
  • The Butler Did It: The Valet Did It
  • Canon Foreigner: Hammil, Carter, The Wizard, and the Wizard's underlings are all exclusive to this serial.
  • Canon Immigrant: Vicki Vale's brother Jimmy.
  • Character Shilling: Batman and Robin have been called a lot of things — "glamorous" is seldom one of them.
  • Death by Secret Identity: Vicki Vale's brother Jimmy finds out Batman is Bruce Wayne. Guess who doesn't survive to the end of the episode?
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: The ending...what else?
  • Evil Twin: Carter's brother, who has received no build-up, foreshadowing, or implication by the time he's revealed as the Wizard.
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  • His Name Is...: The Wizard chokes Barry Brown to unconsciousness before he can reveal his identity on-air. Unlike many examples, Brown recovers, albeit too late to do much.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: The Wizard, courtesy of cheap flashing LEDs.
  • Identity Impersonator: A very poor example — Alfred uses pre-recorded messages to convince people that Bruce is at home on the telephone when he's standing next to them as Batman. At the end, Vicki offers to take Batman along on her dinner date with Bruce, to which Batman agrees... and then the phone on the Commissioner's desk rings, with "Bruce" letting Vicki know he suddenly can't keep his engagement. How Alfred knew to call, let alone when and where, is a testament to either his perfection as a butler, or to the weaknesses of the screenplay.
  • Informed Attribute:
    • Bruce being referred to as a "wealthy playboy", despite Wayne Manor being shown as a six-room single-floor house in the suburbs, not a mansionnote , and the Batmobile an affordable mid-market convertible; the only indication that he has much money at all is Alfred puttering around the house. (Prof. Hammil, by comparison, has not only a valet, but an absolutely gigantic estate and a sprawling, elegantly appointed home with its own secret passage, but it's never once commented upon.)
    • Similarly, the narration refers to Batman and Robin as "glamorous figures that vanish as suddenly as they appear" — while they're stumbling very conspicuously out of their Mercury in costumes best suited for kids' party entertainers. (While Bruce Wayne's house does have a small Batcave, it does not appear to have a secret entrance for the car, meaning that seeing the Dynamic Duo in the Wayne driveway must be a common experience for the neighbors.) Since this is a serial, it's just as common for them to arrive late and waste time driving around, chasing dead ends, as it is for them to burst onto the scene and take the villains by surprise.
  • Name and Name: Batman and Robin
  • Non-Indicative Title:
    • Episodes "Robin's Wild Ride" and "Robin Rescues Batman" are bald-faced lies. Robin never has a wild ride,note  and he certainly doesn't rescue Batman at any point in the episode. "Target—Robin!" implies the Wizard hasn't targeted Robin until this episode. He's always targeted the dynamic duo. The reason for this is that the episode titles were written far in advance of the actual scripts, to entice theater owners into exhibiting the series. The screenwriters paid little attention to the episode titles when they were doing the actual writing.
    • Averted, of sorts, with The Wizard. The name does not come from a magical wizard like Merlin, but it's actually a reference to Thomas Edison, "The Wizard of Menlo Park."
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The Wizard's "hypnotic eyes" are tiny flashing lightbulbs.
  • Only One Name: The Wizard's vast array of henchmen, as ruthless as they are non-threateningly named (Evans, Earl, Gabe, Jason, Ives, Neal). Similarly, Carter — and by extension his brother, who would likely also be named "Carter" — never gets more than a surname, Prof. Hammil only gets a title, and Dunne is often referred to as "Dunne, the private eye" just to reaffirm what he does.
  • Plot Twist: The series had been hinting strongly that the wheelchair-ridden Professor, who used some device to make himself walk normally, was the Wizard. It was his valet's twin brother instead.
  • Red Herring:
    • Professor Hammil might be extremely suspicious, what with the secret machine that temporarily allows him to walk, but apparently all he's been doing is testing a miracle treatment for paralysis on himself, and isn't actually the Wizard. Similarly, Dunne is just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Barry Brown is guilty of nothing more than irresponsible reporting (and might even have been secretly manipulated by the Wizard as a stooge to throw suspicion off himself).
    • Carter is murdered by an unseen figure in the penultimate chapter, confirming that he was working for the Wizard, but seemingly eliminating him as a suspect. The finale then reveals that Carter has a criminal twin brother, who has presumably been threatening his cowardly sibling into submission.
  • Rich Idiot With No Day Job: Again, Bruce's cover, but in this series, it's played as constantly being exhausted and disinterested, almost bordering on sickly (such as claiming he has to "take [his] vitamins" after hearing upsetting news).
  • Spoiler Title: Episode 15, "Batman Victorious." Subverted in that the episode still manages to have a Plot Twist. Of course, there were several episodes in the serial with Non-Indicative Titles, so one might be forgiven for not taking it seriously.note 
  • Techno Wizard: The Wizard of course
  • Thememobile: Like the first serial, the budget didn't allow for a separate Batmobile, so Batman and Robin drive around in Bruce Wayne's Mercury. Lampshaded when Vicki Vale asks Batman if Bruce Wayne knows that Batman is using his car.
  • Traintop Battle: It wouldn't be an action-adventure serial of any kind without one.
  • A Wizard Did It: Literally, except not.

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