Batman's Famous Bomb Scene Highlighted Adam West's Favorite Part Of The Show

Leslie H. Martinson's 1966 feature film "Batman," a spinoff feature from the popular TV series that launched the same year, is — without hyperbole — one of the best films of its decade. There is no film more sublimely self-aware, more colorful, funnier, or more brazenly entertaining than "Batman." None of the Batman films since have managed to approach Martinson's miraculous cinematic purity and subversive satire. "Batman" celebrates the ridiculous, childlike glory inherent in superhero comics, while also sending it up; Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) are so obnoxiously square, one can't help but laugh at them a little bit. However, West and Ward are so brilliantly earnest in their comedic performances, one can't help but also admire their genius. Add to that four over-the-top villain performances from Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Lee Meriwether, and Burgess Meredith, and one can see how "Batman" approaches the sublime. It is the Platonic ideal of a Saturday matinee. 

For years, many Batman fans didn't appreciate the comedic approach to their favorite character. Film and TV producer Michael E. Uslan even said in his memoir, "The Boy Who Loved Batman," that he made it a life goal to undo the cultural imprint of the 1966 "Batman" TV series. As recently as 2022, filmmakers have been aggressively pushing Batman further and further into the darkness, fleeing the light of Martinson's film. To the fans of Batman's darkness, I say pish tosh. You're missing out on genius.

Of course, West himself was a big fan of the 1966 film, saying as much in a 2017 interview with Moviefone – an interview that would prove to be the actor's last before his death. West pointed to one scene in particular as cementing the film's genius as well as the TV show's: the bomb scene.

Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb

The bomb scene in question could have come straight out of a Harold Lloyd or Buster Keaton film for how simple and hilarious it is. When infiltrating a villain's lair, located inside a pier tavern, Batman finds an enormous bomb, its fuse already lit. This is a cartoon world, so the bomb is a large black sphere like in a "Rocky & Bullwinkle" episode. Batman picks up the bomb, brings it out into the tavern, and implores everyone to flee for their lives. He then runs out onto the pier, hoping to throw the bomb into an uninhabited area. The pier is so crowded, however, that Batman is constantly stymied. A marching band gets in his way. Then some nuns. A pair of lovers in making out in a rowboat. On the other side of the pier ... ducklings. "Some days," Batman bemoans, "you just can't get rid of a bomb."

Adam West recalled how that kind of comedy was spitballed back on the early days of the show, and how the exact tone was decided:

"Creating scenes that were funny and ridiculous, and yet inventively wonderful. For example, first of all, we had great writers, and our directors were good -– most of them. And the wonderful thing is that the executive producer, the late Bill Dozier and the others, Charlie Fitzsimons, and I, we all got together with the same kind of concept about tone and what we were doing, and how we wanted to do it."

Once decided, the comedy flowed forth. West saw his exact discussions come to fruition with the bomb scene.

50 years of this!

Running around a pier with a lit bomb nailed the tone. It's like an image from a MAD Magazine, with all the madcap genius therein. Adam West continued:

"So that when I'm running up and down the Santa Barbara Pier for half a day with a bomb over my head, trying to get rid of it and I can't, these moments — comedically — become fascinating to cook with. And you sense, as you create these scenes, that they have a good chance of working and having longevity. And that's what we've had, which is very rewarding. We've had 50 years of this!"

The "Batman" feature film was long available on TV reruns, on VHS, and on DVD. Because of complicated rights issues, however, the 1966 "Batman" TV show was not available on home video for decades. The show would occasionally be rerun — when Tim Burton's "Batman" hit theaters in 1989, TV stations began showing the 1966 series again — but there was no way to purchase it. Warner Bros. owned the rights to the character, but 20th Century Fox owned the series, and neither studio seemed interested in sharing any potential home video profits. 

Luckily, in 2014, a deal was reached, and now one can see "Batman" in all its full-color glory on streaming and on Blu-ray. West passed away in 2017 at the age of 88, having been braised his whole life for his most notable superhero role. He even reprised the role for a pair of animated movies in 2016 and 2017. It was a great, great 50 years.