Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
In order to understand the story behind Batman Beyond, I have to go back to the TV show Batman Beyond. In the fist episode of the TV show, we see an older Bruce Wayne trying to save a life of young woman from kidnappers. This Bruce Wayne’s Batman is dressed differently that the younger version on the Batman TAS. This batman is slower and has gray hair. You can see the damage the years of crime fighting has done to his body and mind.
During this rescue attempt, Batman’s body and mind give out on him. Things go wrong and Batman has to use a gun. (Unlike the Tim Burton films, Batman does not use guns or kill people!) Distraught over his failure and almost getting himself and the young woman killed, he walks away defeat. That is when he decides to retire from crime fighting all together.
Many years later, a young boy by the name of Terry McGinnis looses his father to the now corrupt Wayne Enterprises. (During Bruce’s retirement, he steps down from family Company. Shady people buy out most of the company.) In uncovering his father’s murder, he finds out the secret behind Bruce Wayne’s crime fighting pass. Later, he convinces Bruce Wayne that he deserves to be the New Batman. Bruce Wayne helps the young Batman behind the scenes. By helping each other out, they both find that they can make a difference in city.
Return of the Joker
Terry McGinnis has been the New Batman for a while. He even defeated the man behind his father’s murder. He’s shown Bruce he is suited for the job. In other words, he’s kicking butt. A gang of thugs called the Jokerz start to steal from companies with satellite technology. Batman is on the case. Later, we find out that the Joker himself is behind the thief. How can the Joker be alive when the original Batman clearly defeated him years ago?
Before I actually review the actual movie, I should tell everyone about the dark history behind this movie. There were a lot of changes made to this movie in post-production, a lot of changes. You see the show was unrated and direct to video. So Paul Dini and Bruce Timm with help of Glen Murakami wrote a dark story.
WB got worried about the violence and demanded a new cut of the film, toning down much of the violence. Most studios can get away with this and keep it away from the public. Here is where WB got it wrong. You see before WB demanded the major cuts to the movie, they sent out reviewing copies of the original cut of the movie! The news hit the fan sites that WB was dipping their hands into Timm and Dini movie. The backlash from the fans was huge. WB didn’t know what they got themselves into. They actually had to bring Timm and Dini out on interviews to calm down the fans.
Despite the backlash, the cut version was released and fan loved the movie. Sure it was not as dark as the fans wanted, but it was still a great story.
Yeah, so this is a cartoon, movie, I don’t care. The story is extremely adult centered. And, the Joker’s never been scarier. (Except for maybe the Mask of the Phantasm.) On the old Batman cartoon show in the early 90s, the Joker could not outright murder people. This was back when the show was on FOX, later on WB the rules were more relaxed. He usually got rid of people off screen. He’s the meanest you’ll ever see, beside the one in the comic book.
Mark Hamill is wonderful as the Joker. He’s been doing the voice of this character for well over 12 years now. It’s always a treat to listen to him.
I can’t say too much about the movie, because I don’t want to give it away. But, what you see in the flashbacks to the old Batman TAS show is down right shocking. You’ll never see Batman loose it like he does in this movie.
Please give this movie a try. Try to find the uncut version.
Things to look for
~ Well, the Batman Beyond TV show isn’t as dark as this Movie. If you get the uncut Director’s version, the violence is pretty harsh. They really tried to see how far they could go with this one.
~ The edited version is not bad by a long shot, its just that they really toned down one the biggest battles between Batman and the Joker. (and Added seat belts?)
~ Listen to the commentaries of both versions they’re interesting contrast.
~ Never has the animation been smoother and cleaner.
~ The voice acting is wonderful. Dean Stockwell, Mark Hamill, Angie Harmon.
~ Note this is not a kid’s movie, trust me.