Early Batman Fan Film From 1966 Rediscovered

by Erik Amaya

While fan films may seem a recent phenomenon, they extend back to the availability of consumer level home movie cameras. Many have been lost to history, floods and tape erasures, but the To the Batpoles podcast has uncovered the story of an early Batman ’66 fan film dating from … 1966!

The product of students at Washburn High School in Minneapolis, MN, Batman at Washburn sees then-seniors Tim A. Olson and Frank Ashman as the Dynamic Duo fighting against Dr. Sin (Mike Smith) and The Sorcerer (Chris Gossett) and their attempt to drug the Washburn students body with “smut.” Made with tongue firmly in cheek, the movie appears to be some sort of senior project. And as collector Mitchell Kaba told To the Batpoles, it is very likely the first Batman ’66 fan film — the series only debuted a few months before Batman at Washburn was made — and only the third Batman fan film ever shot.

It is an interesting curio as a fan film, but also of rare look at an early high school senior video project, a now time-honored tradition at many schools. The film is very much caught up in its inside jokes — one of which seems to presage the copyright disclaimers modern fan-filmmakers use — and as John Powers, one of the students who appeared in the film, told the podcasters, it needed the approval of the school’s principal and several other faculty members; all of whom appear in the film. No doubt some of you have made videos like this, although the format was more likely VHS or digital video instead of Batman at Washburn‘s 16mm.

Nevertheless, references to rival schools as the source of evil, the overwrought narration, and the overall jovial tone will feel familiar to those who may have made something like this. And, as it happens, it does a pretty good job honoring and lampooning Batman ’66 itself. It may be a little long, but it is quite the time capsule to a less complex time.

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