Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) – Kevin Altieri, Boyd Kirkland, and Frank Paur

Kevin Conroy brought his incarnation of the Dark Knight to the big screen in the 1993 animated film, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Released between the first and second seasons of Batman: The Animated Series, the film was originally planned to be a direct-to-video release before being repurposed for a theatrical release.

The film combines a bit of Batman Year One and Year Two as it slides back and forth through time as Bruce Wayne (Conroy) works on becoming the crime fighter who will become Batman, finds love with Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delaney), and chases down the titular villain (Stacy Keach), a killer that is taking out a number of high profile criminals in what may be an act of revenge.

Things aren’t going too well for Bruce, he’s trying to find a way to inspire fear in the criminals he encounters and is also stunned by how passionate his feelings for Andrea are, but they are in for a rocky time of it, and when she leaves him, and the country, he’s shaken.

When she returns a year later, the two attempt to reconnect, but the killer stalking the criminals of Gotham keeps them apart. Batman is determined to bring the Phantasm to justice even as he struggles over what may or may not be his future with Andrea.

Throw the Joker (Mark Hamill) into the mix, and things are going to be very trying for the Caped Crusader.

The story is surprisingly well-layered and has strong performances from its voice cast. Running for seventy-five minutes the narrative thrives with a longer runtime, allowing for character beats, story moments, and depth of characters.

Mask of the Phantasm ends up being a really engaging story, and despite the fact that it’s easy to figure out what is really going on in the story, and consequently, how it has to finish for our hero, the journey is enjoyable.

I love the animation style for The Animated Series and the whole world that the series creates. Conroy’s Batman and Hamill’s Joker have become iconic, and even if you’ve never watched the series and only this film, it’s easy to see why. They are simply amazing, and bring the characters to wonderful life.

Everything about this animated Batman tale works, and it can easily stand with some of the other live-action entries that have graced the screen. The production design, the performances, the art, it brings the World’s Greatest Detective to vibrant noir life, and Kevin Conroy proves why he may be the best Batman of all.

I hadn’t watched this one since it was released to home video back in the 90s, but wow, it’s still a great ride!


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