Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is a 2016 American direct-to-video animated superhero film produced by Warner Bros. Animation and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Based on the 1960s Batman TV series, the film stars Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar reprising their roles of Batman, Robin and Catwoman from the series.
Originally intended to be released directly on home media, the film premiered at the New York Comic Con on October 6, 2016, and had a simultaneous release in theaters on October 10, 2016, a digital release on October 11, 2016, and a physical home media release on DVD and Blu-ray on November 1, 2016.
A sequel entitled Batman vs. Two-Face was released on October 10, 2017.
At stately Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne and his ward Dick Grayson watch their favorite show, Gotham Palace. During the programming, a band that was supposed to play on the show is revealed to be hidden and replaced by four of the Dynamic Duo's greatest villains; the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, and Catwoman. Bruce and Dick suit up as Batman and Robin and head towards the Gotham City Police Department, where they receive a riddle from Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara.
They discover that the crooks are robbing the Acme Atomic Energy Laboratory of the Replication Ray that was invented by Dr. Nichols. The Replication Ray has the power to make a perfect duplicate out of anything. After a brief fight, the criminals manage to escape Batman, but leave behind a clue that leads the caped crusaders to their lair in an abandoned TV dinner factory. While discussing what to do with the Replication Ray, Catwoman reveals her plan to make Batman join their side with a scratch from a substance called "Batnip". After Batman and Robin break in, they are defeated by the criminals and trapped on a frozen food tray heading towards a large oven. Catwoman uses her Batnip on Batman, but he is supposedly unaffected by it. The two escape the trap after the villains leave the factory.
Back at stately Wayne Manor, Bruce starts showing signs of aggression after Aunt Harriet nearly discovers the Batcave. He blames Alfred for the incident and fires him, leaving the butler to wander on the streets homeless. After days of not finding Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman, Batman figures out that the four crooks are no longer on Earth and have hijacked a space station. The two heroes go into space with the help of their Bat-Rocket.
At the space station, Joker, Penguin and Riddler betray Catwoman as they do not trust her to be on their side due to her feelings for Batman. They try to throw her out into space. She is rescued by the Dynamic Duo and aids them in defeating her former allies for revenge. Batman savagely beats the three men and recovers the Replication Ray, but Catwoman escapes in an escape pod in the process.
After the mission, Dick expresses concern towards Bruce for his behavior in the space station and at the Gotham City Police Department (where he left when Gordon was not looking without a word). Bruce kicks Dick out of the house and takes a break from being Batman, resulting in a crime spree in Gotham City.
A few weeks later, Batman returns to the Gotham City Police Department and blames the police for the increase in crime. He uses the Replication Ray on himself to replace Gordon and O'Hara as police commissioner and police chief respectively.
Batman soon replaces most of the government, jobs, and citizens in Gotham with his replicas and plans to take over the world. Dick realizes that the Batnip had a delayed effect on Batman and was slowly making him more evil over time. He then suits up as Robin and goes to Catwoman's lair to request her help in curing Batman which she agrees to do as she thinks the effects of the Batnip were more severe than she had planned.
The two take the Catmobile to the Batcave, where Catwoman attempts to give Batman the antidote, but Batman anticipated it and took the Bat Anti-Antidote. Batman defeats the two in a fight and leaves them to die in the Nuclear Reactor, but they survive thanks to Robin's Bat Anti Isotope Spray. Knowing they cannot take on an army of Batmen by themselves, Robin and Catwoman arrange the prison break of most of Batman's rogues gallery from Gotham State Penitentiary; Archer, Black Widow, Bookworm, Clock King, Egghead, False Face, King Tut, Louie the Lilac, Mad Hatter, Minstrel, Mr. Freeze, Sandman, Shame and Siren by claiming to Warden Crichton that the ball and chains and pickaxes are not in good shape. This resulted in the replaced versions carrying the villains out of the prison. While a prison guard tells Warden Crichton that Joker, Penguin and Riddler did not escape, the three of them mysteriously turn into a pile of dust.
The two confront Batman and his army on the Gotham Palace set, but they still lose even with the help of the criminals. Before Batman kills Robin and Catwoman, a disguised Alfred arrives and gives Batman a strong enough antidote to counter the Bat Anti-Antidote. Batman returns to normal, and the rest of his clones turn to dust as the Replication Ray was not strong enough to make perfect clones.
Batman realized that his behavior change was used as a distraction by Joker, Penguin and Riddler, and that the ones they arrested were fake copies. Joker had spiked the Batnip Catwoman was using. The real ones were using the opportunity to rob the Gotham Art Museum. Joker, Penguin and Riddler just wanted to get Batman out of the way first. Batman, Robin, and Catwoman (who came as vengeance for what they did at the space station) chase them to Penguin's blimp, where the villainous trio is defeated after they are knocked off the blimp to a safe location to be arrested. Catwoman tries to escape with the stolen paintings, but Batman recovers them. Unwilling to be put in a cage again, Catwoman allows herself to fall into a smokestack.
Bruce and Dick then throw Aunt Harriet a surprise birthday party acting as if that is the secret they have been hiding from her. During the party, Bruce and Dick are called away by the Bat-Signal.
- Adam West as Bruce Wayne / Batman
- Burt Ward as Dick Grayson / Robin
- Julie Newmar as Catwoman
- Jeff Bergman as Joker, Announcer
- William Salyers as Penguin
- Wally Wingert as Riddler
- Jim Ward as Commissioner James Gordon
- Steven Weber as Alfred Pennyworth
- Thomas Lennon as Chief Miles O'Hara, Warden Crichton
- Lynne Marie Stewart as Aunt Harriet Cooper
- Sirena Irwin as Miranda Moore Other Catwomen
West and Ward announced at the Mad Monster Party that one or two Batman animated films will be released on Digital HD, starting with Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders on October 11, 2016 and Blu-ray on November 1, 2016. West, Ward and Newmar would provide the voices of their respective characters for the series' 50th anniversary. A trailer was released August 17, 2016. Five decades after the original Batman series, West jokingly remarked that it took him "about twenty seconds" to get back into character.
Warner Home Video hosted the world premiere of Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders during the 2016 New York Comic-Con on October 6, 2016. The film was released digitally on October 11, 2016, while the deluxe edition DVD and combo pack Blu-ray of the film was released on November 1, 2016. On September 10, 2016, Fathom Events cinemas announced they would release the film in select theaters for one night only on October 10, 2016. It also received a limited release in Australia on October 8 and 9, 2016.
The movie was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in Australia on November 28, 2016.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 91%, based on 11 reviews, with an average rating of 8.1/10. Dave Robinson of outlet Crash Landed awarded the film 3 stars out of 5, citing its success in capturing the iconic '60s television show but failing to create a cinematic quality expected of an animated feature film.
The film debuted at No. 17 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert sales chart and No. 11 on the Blu-ray Disc sales chart in its first week. As of August 2017, it has earned over $1.1 million from domestic home video sales.
A sequel, entitled Batman vs. Two-Face, was released in 2017 with William Shatner voicing Two-Face as the main antagonist. Burt Ward and Julie Newmar reprised their roles as Robin and Catwoman. On June 9, 2017, Batman's voice actor Adam West died from leukemia. Despite this, the movie has been completed and released. According to Bleeding Cool, West and Shatner recorded their lines separately with West finishing his lines by October 2016.
Possible Wonder Woman spin-off
After the success of Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, Warner Bros. had stated that their executives are also considering making an animated film based on the classic 1970s Wonder Woman TV series, with actress Lynda Carter reprising her role as Wonder Woman.
- Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders at Metacritic
- Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders at AllMovie
- Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders at TV.com
- Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders at The World's Finest