‘Batman vs. Two-Face’ – the animated showdown on HBO Max

The 2016 DC Animated Movie Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, featuring the voices of Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar from the campy original 1960s TV series Batman, proved popular enough to inspire a sequel.

Batman vs. Two-Face (2017) is made with the same mix of tongue-in-cheek humor, tortured puns, and crazy supervillain schemes delivered with straight-faced self-awareness.

William Shatner voices the twin roles of District Attorney Harvey Dent, in this version an egotistical but well-meaning public servant, and the villain Two-Face, created when a scientific experiment gone bad blows in face and leaves half his profile scarred. The character never appeared in the original series so his origin is sketched out in the opening minutes and the colorful credits sequence.

There’s not much to the story, a silly little lark that tosses in classic TV villains King Tut and The Bookworm with bit roles for Joker, Riddler, and Penguin, but it’s clear that the filmmakers love the original show. They toss in a Batcaveful of tributes, from voice actors recreating the voices of the gallery of classic villains to the way Robin pounds his fist into his open hand to punctuate his verbal exclamations.

Like the first throwback Batman film, the style evokes the seventies Filmation shows (but with a higher quality). Harvey Dent is designed to look like a young William Shatner and the role of a split personality at war with itself brings out the self-conscious hamminess that Shatner does so well. And it features the final screen performance of Adam West, who passed away in the summer of 2017.

It’s not really sure if it’s comedy, parody, or straight-up tribute but Batfans should be in sixties pop culture nirvana nonetheless.

Rated PG

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Also on Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay, Vudu and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
Batman vs. Two-Face [Blu-ray]
Batman vs. Two-Face [DVD]
Batman vs. Two-Face / Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders [DVD]

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The special edition Blu-ray and DVD release includes interviews with Burt Ward and Julie Newmar and the Adam West tribute panel from Comic-Con 2017.


Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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