Ah yes, the animated Batman film we did deserve in 2017 (eyes narrow at Batman and Harley Quinn).
Batman vs Two-Face is a DC animated film directed by Rick Morales (Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders). It stars the late-great Adam West as Bruce Wayne/Batman as he dukes it out with former friend and DA Harvey Dent (William Shatner) after he is turned by a freak lab accident into the villainous Two-Face.
Return of the Caped Crusaders was a wonderful bright spot from last year, and while Batman vs Two-Face doesn’t quite reach the surprise and joy of that film, its still a solid sequel/continued homage to the classic 60s Batman TV series.
While the first film was a huge surprise in how much I enjoyed it, Batman vs Two-Face didn’t have that luxury going in, but still manages to present a surprisingly engaging story. This is obviously a much fluffier interpretation of Two-Face than seen otherwise, but it still leads to a surprisingly compelling story involving Bruce trying to redeem his longtime friend amidst a chaotic crime spree. Much like Caped Crusdaers this film feels like a longer episode of the TV series, allowing it to not only dive into an expanded story but also take advantage of the technically-limitless imagination and budget offered by animation. Its on a scale that doesn’t quite match the intergalactic adventures of yore but still remains entertaining in exploring this version of one of Batman’s most iconic villains.
The animation does feel a little cheaper opposed to last time, but it still does a great job capturing the classic camp capers of the original series. Still funny, bizarre and deadpan in all the right ways, its a lovely continuation of a beloved television series that allows a whole new audience to be introduced to Batman’s lighter side (me included). What this film does lack compared to the original is the fun send-ups of Batman’s history since the series aired, something that ended up being my favourite trait of Caped Crusaders but is sadly absent here. Its a shame, but subsequently does allow the film to become more embroiled in the original series’ tone rather than becoming a meta-commentary of Batman Caped Crusaders occasionally became.
All the performances are just as top-notch as last time. As Adam West’s last role this is a loving send-off for a star that has contributed so much to Batman’s legacy and he’s just as comfortable in the cape and cowl as ever. The same can be said for Burt Ward and Julie Newmar, even if Newmar’s voice once again can’t quite match the crispness of her fellow returning stars. Newcomer William Shatner as Two-Face is a great addition as well, breathing life into a character the original series never debuted. Its just kooky and Shatner-esque enough to be entertaining without being too distracting, and it plays off the tone and West’s performance incredibly well.
While it can’t quite reach the mad-cap heights of Return of the Caped Crusaders, Batman vs Two-Face delivers plenty more of what made that film great. A loving homage to a bygone era headed by great performances and an amusingly light story, there are much worse ways to send off one of the Batman’s greats. Rest now, old chum. Thanks to you Gotham will be safe forevermore.
General Audiences: Recommended
True Believers (Batman): Highly Recommended