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The Batman (or simply Batman) was a 15-chapter serial released in 1943 by Columbia Pictures. The serial starred Lewis Wilson as Batman and Douglas Croft as Robin. J. Carrol Naish played the villain, an original character named Dr. Daka. Also starring Shirley Patterson as Linda Page (Bruce Wayne's love interest), and William Austin as Alfred.

The plot is based on Batman, a US government agent, attempting to defeat the Japanese agent Dr. Daka, at the height of World War II. Dr. Daka possessing a dangerous device able to turn people into Zombie-like creatures. It also features an insanely ornate office-type Batdesk.

The film is noteworthy as Batman's first film and live action depiction as well as being the inspiration for the 1960s TV show that popularized Batman. In addition, this film marked the first appearance, film or print, of the Batcave. It also spawned a sequel serial called Batman and Robin. Go here if you're looking for the other animated Batman series.

Tropes associated with this work:

  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Tito Daka.
  • Canon Immigrant: Several (surprising) examples:
    • The idea of the Batcave (called the Bat's Cave in the serial), with an entrance through the grandfather clock, originated in this serial before moving over the comic books.
    • The visual appearance of Alfred in the comic books was changed to match that of the actor in the serial; prior to this, Alfred was portrayed as a portly, clean-shaven butler.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Batman locks a Mook in a room full of bats, to try and loosen his tongue.
  • Modern Minstrelsy: The Japanese Tito Daka is played by Irishman J. Carroll Naish.
  • Shark Pool: Daka has an alligator pit.
  • Thememobile: Averted, in that the low budget of the serial prevented the studio from building or procuring a Batmobile for Batman and Robin. Rather, Batman and Robin ride around in Bruce Wayne's limo - with Alfred driving!
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The serial takes place in Gotham City, but Wayne Manor's address is stated to be in Los Angeles, California.
  • Yellow Peril: Oh boy....
    • The villian, Dr. Daka, is a stock WWII era Japanese villian. Played by J. Carroll Naish, an Irish-American actor.
    • The narration and dialogue in the serial makes very clear who was fighting whom in WWII. The opening narration describes how "a wise government rounded up the shifty-eyed Japs" to explain the abandoned part of town in which Daka operates.