For DC Comics, launching the DC Extended Universe with the grim-looking superhero beatdown Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and the costumed-psychopaths-as-protagonists actioner Suicide Squad would seem to be the final step in a decades-long rebranding effort. Consistently unable to shake the perception that its famous characters are permanently arrested in the more innocent pre-WWII era that birthed them, the company has gladly rallied behind each new attempt to invest the likes of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman with depth and darkness.
But it didn’t always used to be this way, and YouTube’s Leo Curbelo Films is looking to remind us of this with a new mash-up trailer, which combines the audio from the new film with the famous TV incarnations of The Trinity.
In the video, classic footage of Adam West (Batman), George Reeves (Superman), and Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) is matched to the voices of their Batman V Superman counterparts, but the joke doesn’t end there, as clips from The Monkees are used to create a stand-in for Jesse Eisenberg’s reimagined Lex Luthor, while one of Golden Age television’s most iconic monsters (it’s too perfect to spoil) takes the place of Doomsday. The cutting is so well-executed and the visual-gags so well chosen, it hardly matters that the three series in question never actually shared the airwaves in their original runs.
The juxtaposition is especially ironic given that all three series are frequently cited to represent the precise aesthetic DC has been actively fleeing on the publishing and moviemaking side for most of its modern existence. For example, Reeve’s conception of Superman did more to cement the idea of the character as a square-jawed do-gooder in the popular culture than the famously bizarre Superman comics of his era, Adam West’s Batman series is today mainly remembered for its high-camp “BAM! POW!” self-parody, while Carter’s Wonder Woman made a mainstream icon out of a character who by the ’70s was more widely known than widely read by sanding the edges off of her notoriously difficult origins. And, of course, all three series were aimed at a family audience and beloved by generations of children — hence the inherent humor at the absurdity of pairing them with audio from a film that thus far looks not far removed from Snyder’s own R-rated adaptation of Watchmen.
But while it was trendy among fans (and some creators) in the ’80s and ’90s to trash DC’s older TV output as having “held back” the medium by establishing the characters as unserious “kids stuff,” subsequent reappraisals have sought to rehabilitate their reputations. The 1966 Batman, in particular, is remembered fondly for helping to reestablish classic Batman characters like Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman (at the time having gone largely unused in the comics) and for creating the modern versions of Batgirl and Mr. Freeze — to say nothing of the pop-culture and current-events satire that informed many episodes. The series recently received a lavish, features-packed DVD release, and an upcoming animated feature based on Batman ’66 will bring Adam West and Burt Ward back to provide voices for the original roles.
In an interesting note of trivia for movie fans: George Reeves tragic life story and famously suspicious death by suicide was the subject of the 2006 film Hollywoodland, with current Batman Ben Affleck in the lead role.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will hit theaters on March 25th, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016, Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017, Justice League on November 17th, 2017, The Flash on March 23rd, 2018, Aquaman on July 27th, 2018, Shazam on April 5th, 2019, Justice League 2 on June 14th, 2019, Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020, and Green Lantern Corps on June 19th, 2020.
Source: Leo Curbelo Films