Batman 2.36 – The Mad Hatter Runs Afoul

Part two of this story is indeed better than part one, as I remembered. That’s despite a completely ridiculous subplot about Batman and Robin’s supposed death. They apparently chose to fake their deaths in the nuclear reactor to put the Mad Hatter off guard, but word got out and kind of got away from them. Within hours, President Johnson, Premier Khrushchev, and the Queen of England are all flying to Gotham City, Aunt Harriet is organizing a funeral committee of four thousand women, and the same two bits of stock footage of crowds that were employed in the Batman movie get used again.

But never mind that, this has one of the all-time great Batfights, which looks like it happened because the stunt team convinced the producers that they could stage a really great one on a water tower. There’s absolutely no practical reason in the plot for the Mad Hatter’s hideout, at the defunct Green Derby restaurant, to have a water tower, and the best that the writer can come up with is that the Hatter plans to zap Batman and Robin with his mesmerizer as they climb the ladder. But the wind carries his hat off, so it’s down to fisticuffs, and you know what? It looks terrific. That is a great, great fight scene.

But never mind that either, the crowning moment comes when the news of our heroes’ deaths breaks to the citizenry and the villains plan their next move. The Mad Hatter is overjoyed that he’s done what the Joker, the Puzzler, and the Riddler have all failed to do and killed Batman, elevating him to one of the greats. Interestingly, though, Commissioner Gordon, who’s usually naming every costumed menace in town as the most dangerous and lethal lunatic on the planet and more than a match for any policeman, has no respect for the Mad Hatter whatsoever, labeling him an inconsequential “pipsqueak.”

So in a scene that is made more glorious by David Wayne’s extremely mannered and fussy body language and fey delivery, the Mad Hatter basks in his infamy and immediately sets about plotting the next details of his plan. Then moll-of-the-week Polly, played by Jean Hale, wonders whether they’re being disrespectful to Batman’s memory and Mad Hatter patiently corrects her. Since Batman and Robin were made into celebrities because of criminals, then the best way to honor their memory is to be crooked. “It’s the LEAST you can do!” What a delightful, funny scene!

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