Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000, Animated)
Plot: Based on the Batman Beyond TV series set in future Gotham City where young Terry McGinnis (Will Friedle) is now the Batman, but trained by an old Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy). The Joker (Mark Hamill) returns to Gotham after supposedly being dead for years. Terry and Bruce try to unlock the mystery of his return as we learn about the night he died and what his ultimate plan is for Gotham City.
The concept of Batman Beyond never interested me too much. It’s not bad, but there’s only one Batman in my opinion. The story going on in this movie though is pretty damn good, but what propels this film into greatness is the flashback scene of the original Batman and Joker’s final confrontation. This was amazing, and one of the best things ever associated with the Batman franchise. It’s pure Batman/Joker epic storytelling. It’s heartbreaking what the Joker does, and it’s the closest you’ll ever see Batman just fricking lose it. The non-flashback stuff is very strong as well. I do like Terry McGinnis even if he does do a lot of smack talk as Batman, although that does cleverly play into the movie later on. The Joker’s first scene is a little odd and doesn’t really seem like him, but again, this is explained in a satisfying manner. The film does a great job of keeping you salivating for what happened in the past and how Joker got here. His first reveal to Bruce Wayne as he rises up on a platform surrounded by purple smoke and Bruce’s reaction is terrifying. And then you are really like, ‘WTF’ when the Joker pretty much explicitly lets the audience know that he knows Bruce was Batman. The Joker’s return really fucks with Bruce. I did get pissed off at Terry’s ignorance on how much of a threat the Joker really is, but I love how Bruce and Barbara Gordon (Tara Strong) basically tell him off. Barbara has a great line when Terry asks, ‘So what can you tell me about clowns?’ Barbara responds, ‘In this town…they’re never funny.’ Awesome writing. If you are a Batman fan, don’t get turned off by the Batman Beyond thing. You need to see this. Also, I think there are two versions. One is ‘uncut’ and the other makes a lame alteration. Make sure you see the ‘uncut.’ It’s a fantastic story that really keeps you guessing, but its ending is up to the task.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (Really Great)
Category Rankings (Spoilers Throughout):
Best Performance: Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman
-This may be Conroy’s best turn as the character. He has to sound old, tormented, tough, and get really pissed as Batman, which was probably the most interesting for me. Conroy nails it.
Worst Performance: Michael Rosenbaum as Ghoul
-I’m a big Michael Rosenbaum fan, but he just sounds like a bad Christopher Walken here.
Best Line: “It’s true Batsy. I know everything. And kind of like the kid who peaks at his Christmas present, I must admit. It’s sadly anti-climactic. Behind all the sturm and bat-o-rangs, you’re just a little boy in a play suit crying out for mommy and daddy. I’d be funny if weren’t so pathetic. Oh what the heck. I’ll laugh anyway. Hahahahahaha!” -Joker
-The delivery could not have been more perfect. The directing of this line was great too. The camera pans around Batman’s face as he just looks disgusted. A brilliant line. And then Batman busts through the window and just unloads on him.
Worst Line: “Double Down.” –Batman (Terry)
-Yea, he says this after taking down twins. Terrible.
-The Batman (Terry)/Joker fight at the end is pretty good. Terry’s method of messing with the Joker was interesting. He shows he’s a different kind of Batman, which really frustrates and messes with Joker’s head.
-When the Joker first appears at Wayne’s dinner, he escapes in a Jolly Jack plane. It’s not till the end of the movie when Terry searches for the Jolly Jack factory and finds the Joker. What the hell! How do you not search for the factory right off the bat!
-It’s the entire flashback scene. Simply incredible. When Robin first goes missing, and Batman is trying to figure out where he is, he throws an underworld contact through a window and walks out looking absolutely terrifying. The animation was great. Walking into Arkham was just creepy as all hell. The way everything unfolds is just heartbreaking. But my favorite moment in the entire flashback is when Joker finally reveals what he’s done to Robin and the look on Batman’s face as Mark Hamill delivers the best laugh of the Joker he’s ever done.
-Batman (Terry) uses this stupid invisibility thing to fight the twin characters. I hate crap like this!! Why wouldn’t he just use this all the time! Invisibility…that’s so lame! Come on!
-When Nana Harley Quinn arrives at the end and reprimands her granddaughters was pretty funny.
Bad Ass Moment:
-Although really far fetched, the Joker’s whole DNA chip inside Tim Drake’s sub-conscious is pretty bad ass. Just the thought of Joker’s personality resting inside Tim’s neck for almost forty years is unsettling.