‘The Goldbergs’ – Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jeff Garlin and Kevin Smith Talk Batman Episode

The Goldbergs Cast Photo
Jeff Garlin as Murray Goldberg, Hayley Orrantia as Erica Goldberg, Wendi McLendon-Covey as Beverly Goldberg, George Segal as Pops Solomon, Sean Giambrone as Adam Goldberg and Troy Gentile as Barry Goldberg in ‘The Goldbergs’ (ABC/Bob D’Amico)

ABC’s The Goldbergs will be airing a Batman-themed episode on April 5, 2017 titled ‘The Dynamic Duo.’ Season four episode 20 was directed by none other than massive comic book/Batman fan, Kevin Smith, and Smith, Wendi McLendon-Covey (‘Beverly Goldberg’), and Jeff Garlin (‘Murray Goldberg’) were more than happy to talk about the episode at the 2017 WonderCon in Anaheim.

Director Kevin Smith explained that ‘The Dynamic Duo’ episode will feature Pops (George Segal) and Adam (Sean Giambrone) going to see Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989, although the year will never be mentioned on the show. “They go see Batman and there’s obviously a culture difference. For Pops, Batman is Adam West and it’s all fun and games. For Adam, Batman is Michael Keaton and it’s dark. He’s the Dark Knight. So, we get to play on some of those tropes,” said Smith. “Meanwhile, the storyline with Erica (Hayley Orrantia) is that Erica is facing the fact that she wants to go to a college and she’s not going to get into the college she wants to get into. She kind of blows her college entrance on this other college that she doesn’t want to go to. But, really, it’s all about Batman.”

Asked if Batman to him is Michael Keaton or Adam West, Smith replied, “Michael Keaton. I love Adam West because he was my Batman when I was a kid, but Michael Keaton was at a time when as a comic book fan you never thought you would see that. You thought you would see iterations of the ‘bam, piff, pow’ Batman. And suddenly they gave us a movie where, if you can believe it or not, we were like, ‘It’s so dark!’ When you look at Tim Burton’s Batman now it’s not very dark, but it seemed like it by comparison. So I was a big comic book fan at that point – as I still am – but it was like finally this is representation of what Batman really is…even though he used a gun which he doesn’t really.”

“The Adam West Batman which I loved was the Batman of the generation prior, the late ’60s and stuff, so I got to watch it on reruns,” offered Smith. “But Tim Burton’s Batman more specifically Michael Keaton’s Batman, that was my first Batman. Other than the cartoons and stuff, that was the one where I’m like, ‘Oh my god, it represents everything we thought this character was.’

Smith added, “The beauty of Keaton’s performance too was like he doesn’t have the physical bearing that a Batfleck does. Ben Affleck just looks a f*cking wall with a cape on. Michael Keaton looked like Mr. Mom, but they have that cool idea of stick him in the suit. Batman doesn’t have to be a wall of muscle; he’s a mind. He’s a great detective. He’s the world’s greatest detective so put him in a suit. He has to be well trained but he doesn’t have to be ripped upon ripped. So that made a Batman that we could all get our heads around where it’s like, ‘Oh, you don’t have to be impossibly in shape. By that token, if I could fit into that suit I could be Batman.’ So the Michael Keaton Batman was my fav. I love Ben and stuff, and he’s playing him now, but the emotional connection that I have to the Keaton Batman is pretty intense. When I think of that Batman, that was before I ever wanted to be a filmmaker.”

Wendi McLendon-Covey remembers when Tim Burton’s Batman came out in 1989 thinking that it was a game-changer. “That was the first time that the phrase ‘blockbuster’ really meant anything to me because I remember Raiders and Star Wars and all those things being a big deal, but this with Prince doing your music and a cast that every single person is an A-lister and every one of them is actually bringing something to the table – it’s not always like that. Now they just stack names in. This was just so perfect and Kim Basinger was just aspirational. We all wanted to look like Vicki Vale. It was just so sexy. The whole movie was just so sexy, and it was a comic book. You know what I mean? It really flipped it on its head. That’s how I remember perceiving it.”

Jeff Garlin was in Chicago when Tim Burton’s Batman came out. “I very much enjoyed it mostly because of Michael Keaton. The idea that somebody who started out as a comic could become this… I followed his career very closely. I was always a huge fan of his even before I started in comedy, so I was very excited with Michael Keaton. I enjoyed it. I don’t watch it anymore. I have no desire to see it,” explained Garlin. “The ones that I watch over and over are the Christian Bale ones. The first one is the one that I love. The other two have things in them that are great. They’re worth watching.”

“I hate comic book movies,” confessed Garlin. “I love the original Batman TV series. So let’s say they’ve made 30 comic book movies, maybe two or three I’ve enjoyed and the rest I hate because I love comic books so much so it just… Here’s the thing with comic books, a well written comic book – it’s all there. It’s like watching a movie. It’s all there. So why do they want to take it and market it? It’s all marketing, man. It’s nothing to do with the story or caring. And by the way, the action scenes from one of these movies to the other are all interchangeable. Never do you go, ‘Oh my god!’ Remember this also: I’m an old man and I might be cynical when it comes to comic book movies, so don’t listen to me that much.”

Watch the full interviews with Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jeff Garlin and Kevin Smith for more on The Goldbergs season 4:

[Interview by Fred Topel. Article by Rebecca Murray.]