Our Batman retrospective turns to the best Dark Knight film you’ve probably never seen, Mask of the Phantasm…
The One Where: In this cinematic spin-off of Batman: The Animated Series, the Dark Knight is being framed by a vicious new vigilante The Phantasm. Meanwhile, Bruce’s estranged lover Andrea Beaumont returns. Can Batman clear his name and sort out his love life?
Star Turns: For many people, voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker off Star Wars) are the definitive takes on Batman and The Joker. The pair are both at their best here – though as The Joker plays a supporting role, Conroy steals the show. His lighter, more human performance as Bruce is a world away from his formidable growl as Batman. Shout out to Dana Delany – she makes Andrea probably the most likeable of Batman’s film girlfriends.
Best Scene: BTAS is known for tugging at the heart, and Mask is no different. A terrific scene that flashes back to Bruce’s beginnings as Batman will truly get you welling up. Having fallen in love, Bruce is considering abandoning his one-man quest for justice. Unsure what to do he breaks down at his parents’ graves in the rain. “I didn’t count on being happy…”
Verdict: Can I be controversial here? For me, Mask of the Phantasm is the best Batman film ever. Not necessarily the overall best movie to star Batman, but the one that best represents the character. Showcasing his detective work, his no-killing rule, the duality of his personality and his commitment to crime-fighting, none of the live-action films get Batman as well as this one. Add in some gorgeous dark deco animation, a glorious score from Shirley Walker and an engaging, character-driven story, and you have the Citizen Kane of superhero animation.
Holy interesting trivia, Batman! Spoilers for Justice League: The Phantasm doesn’t appear again until JL episode ‘Epilogue’ where it is revealed that Amanda Waller hired the assassin to kill the parents of Terry McGinnis (the second Batman).