It’s the triumphant debut of “4-Color to 35-Millimeter: the Great Superhero Rewatch,” as I take a look at the first two superhero feature films, both of which are connected to popular TV shows: Superman and the Mole Men, the 1951 lead-in to The Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves, and Batman, the 1966 film that was released between the first two seasons of the same-titled Adam West series.
It’s fascinating to watch these first two attempts at long-form live-action superhero movies back to back. Both were tie-ins to TV shows, the first as a sort-of pilot, the second as a reward for a job well done. Both show the main characters in the best possible light, as they do everything they can to preserve life, even to extremes. Superman stands in front of a weapon he knows nothing about in order to save the life of an asshole he’s been railing against for the whole movie. Batman goes to great lengths to dispose of a bomb without harming anyone. For all that “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb” has justifiably become a pop-culture punchline, the message of that scene is still an important one: life is sacred and should be preserved. Heroes are the people who work hard to preserve lives.