Adam West, the first actor to portray Batman in colorized media, passed away from leukemia at the age of 88. While West’s acting career gained a steady second wind through his voice work as characters like the mayor of “Family Guy’s” Quahog, Rhode Island, and several voices on “Robot Chicken,” few ever forget that the man was best known for playing Batman on television during the 1960s. Additionally, West’s time with the campy comic book program may have contributed to its evolution into a biweekly program for two seasons, as well as meriting a theatrically-released film, but the role also helped to pigeonhole his acting career for quite a while.
West was also notably distressed with the tonal shift in Batman’s character that began when Tim Burton’s “Batman” film released in 1989 and seems to have only continued with Christopher Nolan and Zach Snyder’s takes on DC Comics’ dark knight; where West portrayed a Batman who served as a bastion of comicdom’s “silver age,” these newer versions portrayed the caped crusader as a dark, brooding vigilante. In an interview with Variety, West shared his thoughts on the character of Batman as it changed over half a century; he felt that money had played a huge role and when his work as Batman became a hindrance to his career, he doubled down on his involvement with the character.
While some grew to positively associate West with a comic book character come to life, newer fans of the source material, especially fans of the ’70s and ’80s Batman books, grew to loathe West by association; that decade was when Batman seemed to grow more dark, brooding and angsty.
Beyond his time as an actor, West also became a published author. Released in the ’90s, West’s “Back to the Batcave” covered behind-the-scenes anecdotes of his time on ABC’s Batman and shared his anger and dismay at not being given the chance to reprise his role in Burton’s film.