The camera, tilted diagonally, pans across the crowded dance floor of a nightclub called What A Way To Go-Go as Batman casually walks in through the front door. The music continues, but the dancing stops, as Gotham citizens take notice of the world's most famous crime-fighter in their midst. One of them shouts and points, almost fainting, a cigarette girl offers to check his cape, and the club's owner comes over to personally welcome him, asking if he'd like a table. "I'll stand at the bar," replies Batman, standing in the middle of the crowd in a cape, mask and tights, a bright yellow utility belt full of batarangs and explosives around his waist, "I shouldn't wish to attract attention."
That, according to interviews, was the scene where Adam West understood exactly how to play the role that would make him famous: Reserved and stilted and almost painfully square despite the inherent ridiculousness of everything around him. And fifty years ago today, on January 12, 1966, that scene was broadcast as part of the debut of Batman, the television series that would define not just its title character, but --- for better or worse --- the place of superheroes in American pop culture for at least a generation.