Batman and Robin - A Columbia Movie Serial From 1949 Review

By: Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool,

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In our review of The Batman (1943) serial movie series from Columbia Pictures we told you of a ridiculously propagandized and racially insensitive movie starring the Batman.  Well, that movie got a sequel in 1949.  To say it is a sequel is a bit misleading.  They replaced every actor from the original and this Batman actually won most of his fights. They also dropped the racist and nationalist propaganda and the story itself was somewhat better.  What wasn't better, however, was the costuming which took a HUGE leap backward.  Good grief, it's super amateur cosplay level.

Batman and Robin, later called The New Adventures of Batman and Robin and New Adventures of Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder was a 15-chapter serial from 1949 by Columbia Pictures. It is a sequel to the 1943 serial The Batman, although with different actors, and honestly there are no plot elements linking one to the other.  They serve essentially as two stand alone movie serials and it is not necessary to see the abomination of the 1943 The Batman in order to see and understand Batman and Robin. Robert Lowery played Batman and did a much better job than the previous actor despite having a significantly worse costume, while Johnny Duncan played Robin and much like his predecessor was many years too old to be playing Robin.  Still, he was significantly less annoying than the original. Supporting actors include Jane Adams as Vicki Vale and Lyle Talbot as Commissioner Gordon.


Holy terrible cosplay Batman, the ears... or rather horns on that ill fitting cowl are a significant step backward from the original.

The plot of the 1949 Batman and Robin movie serial is simple and uncomplicated.  Batman and Robin face off against the Wizard (Leonard Penn), a hooded villain with an electrical device which controls cars and who sets up challenges for Batman and Robin.  The Wizard's identity remains a mystery until the end of the series.  The Wizard's schemes are largely ridiculous and the serial moves a little slow in the beginning but the last several chapters are a very nice mystery which has you trying to guess who the Wizard will turn out to be.  There are several red herrings and the prime suspects all seem plausible enough to be the masked Wizard.  In the end, there is an interesting twist when the Wizard is revealed.  The 1949 Batman and Robin serial is significantly more interesting than the 1943 series and at no time offensive which can not be said about The Batman.

Batman Robin 1949.png

Despite being an overall better series than The Batman in 1943, there are still a lot of unintentionally hilarious moments throughout the 1949 series.  For some reason, Batman and Robin spend a great deal of time staring around at the sky confounded.  In fact, the opening credits to every episode are set to the backdrop of Batman and Robin staring around in confusion.

Similarly to the 1943 The Batman, this Robin was also portrayed as being much older than the Robin in the comics.  In fact, Batman and Robin are essentially the same age in this serial and the actor playing Robin was 26 years old at the time.  At least this Batman and Robin won more fights than they lost and Robin especially was portrayed as much tougher than his predecssor.


Here is Batman again staring at the sky for some reason.  The opening credits sequence is actually hilarious when you watch the chapters back to back.  This Batman costume was also designed, I suppose, to strike laughter into the heart of the evil masked Wizard rather than fear.  Horns... I mean... seriously?  Also, the capes get in the way in almost every fight.  Not enough criticism can be heeped upon the terrible costuming in this serial.


Be sure to listen to our When It Was Cool audio podcast review of Batman and Robin 1949 serial on our Patreon page by clicking here- Batman and Robin (1949) Podcast Review.

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