The veteran actor is among the interviewees in “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle,” a new three-part PBS documentary narrated by Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”) and airing in its entirety Tuesday, Oct. 15 (check local listings). Television’s former “Wonder Woman,” Lynda Carter, and Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee are among others who reflect on the popularity and endurance of characters that also encompass Superman, Spider-Man, Green Arrow and the X-Men.
“I hear it from thousands of people,” West says to Zap2it — in an interview for this article — about the entertainment “Batman” provided (and continues to, on the nostalgia network Me-TV). “I did Salt Lake City’s first Comic-Con recently, and it was like 75,000 people … so they really turn out to see us, and I’m thrilled.
“Even though there can be problems with your career (in terms of typecasting) in playing a superhero, I’ve had 50 years of this, so I’m very grateful to the fans.”
The comic-book industry has been grateful to West, very particularly during the 1966-68 ABC run of “Batman,” since the popularity of the show helped sell more comics. “And it also helped the Japanese,” West adds. “They began to manufacture and sell thousands of color TV sets, and we really gave that a lot of impetus, in that our show was on twice a week and in color.”
It was very much a ’60s style of color “Batman” promoted, encompassing the purposely cartoonish “Bam!” “Pow!” and “Splat!” visuals that typically accompanied any fight the Caped Crusader and his sidekick Robin (Burt Ward) had with villains.
“I’m not called the Dark Knight, but the Bright Knight,” West muses of his work on the series, which also spawned a 1966 feature film. “It was an homage to DC’s Batman comics with the taste of an earlier time, not the bleak, Gothic graphic novels.
“It’s a wonderful thing for me to know that people grew up with me. And now they have children, and they’re watching ‘Batman’ together.”