Top 10: Developments for Batman ’66/Wonder Woman ’77 by Jerry Whitworth
Announced in October 2016, the hit television series-turned-comic Batman will crossover with another hit television series-turned-comic in Wonder Woman for Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77. Set to begin release digitally November 23rd and in print January 18th, the series will feature Ra’s al Ghul hiring Catwoman to steal a book for him in a story that will span decades as a World War II-era Wonder Woman met a young Bruce Wayne and beyond. The series will be co-written by Jeff Parker (Batman ’66) and Marc Andreyko (Wonder Woman ’77). Batman ’66 has become no stranger to crossovers having done as such with the likes of The Green Hornet, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and The Avengers where Wonder Woman ’77 has only recently announced her first with The Bionic Woman. Since the emergence of Wonder Woman ’77, there has been talk of her crossing over with Batman ’66 among its creators as fans have eagerly awaited an official announcement. What’s interesting about such a crossover is the various ways in which the two television series intersected in the real world which will be discussed. So, lets then take a look at what are some things that maybe in store for the miniseries.
10. SUPERMAN ’88
Simply put, if you’re going to produce a comic book series with two-thirds of the most notable, iconic characters in DC Comics, it would be a missed opportunity to not in some manner incorporate the third. Superman forms what has been called the Trinity with Batman and Wonder Woman of largely the three faces of DC Comics whose image is known the world over. What’s intriguing about the prospect of adding Superman to the mix is that it follows a similar real world beat with the characters. Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves as the Man of Steel was a huge success on television in the 1950s. That success would be followed by Batman in the 1960s and Wonder Woman in the 1970s. In the 1980s, Superman would come to the big screen becoming another hit for the trio of heroes. This started with 1978’s Superman which had the tagline “You’ll believe a man can fly” and starred Christopher Reeve as the eponymous character that would quickly be followed by Superman II in 1980 only to wind down with two subsequent sequels and a spin-off in Supergirl (1984). The producers behind the films in the Salkinds would also tackle a Superboy television series in the late-1980s. Rights would become an issue in the past with bringing the three heroes together as Batman would be featured in a live action pair of television specials in the 1970s that couldn’t employ Wonder Woman or Superman due to their rights being unavailable for noted reasons. Instead, the series with Batman would employ Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman would even have a Superman stand-in with Bryce Candall, the so-called Man of Steel. Even as little as a mention of Kansas would be a rather cute nod to Superman if not a full blown reveal of a possible Superman ’88 series.
Given the success of Batman, its producers tried to follow up the series with the Green Hornet. When that show didn’t gain the following the studio had hoped, there emerged plans to produce a Wonder Woman television series called “Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince?” Initially written by Stan Hart and Larry Siegel, the show’s pilot would be rewritten by Stanley Ralph Ross, Batman‘s most prolific contributor. While the details of the show are not completely known, a five minute mini-pilot was produced which showed a young, plain Diana Prince who bore a delusion about her appearance when she donned her Wonder Woman costume. While appearing only in her own mind as tall and beautiful in her costume (reflecting the character known in the comic), she demonstrated she had the heroine’s powers when she flies out of her room. The series would not be picked up and its concept never entered into the later series that did hit the air waves. However, given its connection to the Batman series, it almost begs to in some manner be represented in the mini-series.
Television was awash with superheroes in the 1970s as live action versions of Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, Amazing Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk, Dr. Strange, and Captain America (all of which were on CBS) appeared. It was in this climate that NBC tried to resurrect Batman in 1979 by bringing back Adam West, Burt Ward, and Frank Gorshin as their iconic characters in a live action version of Challenge of the Super Friends called Legends of the Superheroes (NBC would earlier fail to save the Batman series when ABC canceled it). Featuring two prime time specials which pitted Batman’s Justice League of America against Mordru’s Legion of Doom, the shows tried to have hijinks to attract children, humor only parents would get, but all on a virtually non-existent budget. Not only did the specials not catch on, but they would never return to TV again and only in recent years became available legally for the home market. As noted, Superman and Wonder Woman were unavailable due to their film and television rights, respectively. Instead, while the likes of major characters in Batman, Robin, Flash, and Green Lantern appeared, lesser known entities like Captain Marvel, Hawkman, Black Canary, Huntress, and the Atom (with a nod to the Red Tornado in Scarlet Cyclone) would emerge. Oddly enough, Wonder Woman foe Giganta would be counted among the show’s Legion of Doom. A series like Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77 could go a long way in securing a certain Amazon for the Justice League.