Why campiness succeeds -- and why it fails -- in Batman

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What have we here? Oh, just '60s-era Batman going surfing with the Joker, and making use of some spray-on shark repellent, like one does. But what makes this campy adaptation of Batman work, while Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin didn't?

After taking a look at some of the forgotten plot holes and oddities of the Schumacher's adaptation, a discussion was launched over the role of camp in Batman adaptations — and what we hope the next incarnation of Batman looks like:


You know, at the risk of defending a bad object (because it is a genuinely miserable film in some fairly objective respects), I feel like from the vantage point of three absolutely humorless Nolan films—which were very much greenlit as paranoid reactions to Batman & Robin—I have a retroactive appreciation for Schumacher's takes. For all its commercialism and plain-and-simple issues, this was a campy homage to the really loving, campy Adam West series, as well as the more general goofballery of Silver Age comics (and, very occasionally if obliviously, contemporary comic books) . . . the Burton Batman films are in some ways much better at the camp when they reach towards it (Catwoman's "Black rubber!" scene spring to mind), and are generally very good films (Batman Returns is my favorite in the franchise to date—nothing beats the ballroom scene with the Siouxsie & The Banshees track for me). Batman & Robin is not a good movie. That being said, I still think the perception that its badness is just so large is probably more about tone than folks like to acknowledge.


I think we're due for another one soon with the next reboot. First we had Adam West, then Michael Keaton. Then we had Schumaker, with Nolan's serious tone following that. I really hope the Batman in Batman v. Superman will be more campy and less serious. If they do a full-on Justice League movie, they'll almost have to in order to include some of the heroes like Aquaman.


So, what do you think? What makes camp superhero movies or TV series succeed or fail? And do you hope that the next adaptation of Batman skews closer to Adam West or Christian Bale?