|Batman: Mask of the Phantasm|
|Written by|| Screenplay:|
|Directed by|| Eric Radomski|
|Animation by||Koko Enterprise Co., LTD., Spectrum Animation Co.|
|Air date(s)||December 25, 1993|
|Running time||76 min.|
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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was the first movie based on Batman: The Animated Series, released on December 25, 1993. It is also the first feature-length film of the DCAU, as well as the only one to be released in theatres.
While Batman is busting an illicit counterfeiting operation, gangster Chuckie Sol attempts to make his getaway on wheels from a high-rise parking garage. He is suddenly confronted by a shadowy figure in a cape, which he assumes to be Batman. However, it is instead a different costumed figure, with a deep, echoing voice, a ghostly mask, and a vicious blade on the end of one arm. A frightened Sol tries to run down the new threat, but his target disappears in a cloud of smoke. Sol instead smashes through the wall of the parking structure and crashes into an adjoining building, dead on impact. Witnesses note Batman's arrival on the scene, and most jump to the conclusion that he has finally let one of his normally non-lethal pursuits go too far.
Batman is still a mysterious and frightening figure to most of the public. Fueling the anti-Bat bias is councilman Arthur Reeves, a vocal opponent of Batman's methods and a major thorn in the side of Commissioner James Gordon. Reeves goes over Gordon's head to recruit police officers who share his distaste for Batman's activities.
Later, Reeves is contacted by his old friend Andrea Beaumont, who is just arriving in Gotham City. He asks Andrea about an old acquaintance of hers: Bruce Wayne. She dismissively calls the relationship "ancient history", but a flashback tells otherwise...
- While visiting his parents' grave, a young Bruce Wayne overhears a younger Andrea visiting her mother's, talking to her as though she is still alive. The two strike up a conversation, and sparks immediately fly.
- Bruce has spent the last fifteen years of his life training himself to fight injustice, and is now very close to beginning the fight. That night, he dons a ski mask and confronts a group of thieves hijacking a truck of goods. When he yells at them to surrender, they just attack him. Bruce's martial arts training and advanced equipment make short work of the thugs, and he is elated to see that his training has paid off. Then the remaining thug starts up the truck, and a simple job becomes a high-speed chase on the highway, ending in a crash that nearly kills Bruce and his quarry.
- The next morning, Bruce is recuperating and relentlessly practicing his jiu-jitsu on the lawn. He says "The Plan" has gotten off to a good start, but he needs a way of striking fear into his enemies. Andrea visits, tired of waiting for Bruce to call. To his surprise, she shows him a few moves of her own, and they end up in a tangle on the ground. Laughing, he kisses her, and Alfred turns away discreetly...
Gangster Buzz Bronski, an old associate of Chuckie Sol's, visits his grave at night and drops a desultory wreath by the headstone. However, Bronski is then confronted by the same mysterious figure and chased through the graveyard, yelling for his bodyguards. Bronski falls into an open grave, and the statue above it is tipped inside, crushing him to death. His bodyguards arrive to see his remains and a figure in a cape disappearing over the next rise, leading them to believe that the figure is Batman and he has killed Buzz.
The next day, headlines confirm eyewitness accounts that Batman has turned to killing. Reeves then demands to have him captured, but Commissioner Gordon, knowing that Batman would never commit murder, tells Reeves that he will have no part in his crusade to catch him. Reeves orchestrates a trap with the police for Batman using the Bat-Signal, but Batman, who had been listening to Reeves and Gordon's argument, does not turn up, much to Reeves' amusement, as this further fuels his belief of Batman's guilt.
Batman investigates the spot where Bronski was murdered, but then takes a brief moment to visit his parents' grave. Just then, he overhears a familiar voice, and turns a corner to find... Andrea, speaking to her mother's grave. She turns around, just as shocked as Batman is. He runs off, but Andrea notices the grave he was standing near. She realizes who the man behind the cowl truly is.
While spying on Reeves and Andrea having dinner, Batman has another flashback:
- Bruce and Andrea have been dating for a while now, and tour the Gotham World's Fair together. Afterwards, Andrea takes him to meet her father, Carl Beaumont, a high-powered Gotham businessman (Bruce also meets a young Reeves, a hotshot lawyer in Beaumont's company). Bruce receives Carl's stamp of approval, but their meeting is crashed by shady mobster Salvatore Valestra. Excusing themselves, Bruce and Andrea see a street merchant being harassed by a motorcycle gang. Bruce tells Andrea to stay put, and leaps into the fray. With his training, he easily knocks out two of the gang, but, catching sight of Andrea's terrified expression, he becomes distracted for a crucial second, and takes a blow to the chest that knocks him to the ground, allowing the gang to escape with the merchant's money box.
- That evening, Bruce paces Wayne Manor in agitation: he has realized that he must choose between Andrea or his vow to fight crime. During a rainstorm, he goes to his parents' grave, and begs to be released from his vow: when he made it, he never expected that he could find happiness with someone else. No answers come from his parents' tomb, but Andrea, who knows him very well by now, appears next to him and gives him the answer he needs.
Valestra, now old and failing in health, panics on seeing the headlines about Sol and Bronski's murders, and meets Reeves in private, asking him to confirm if Batman is hitting "our people". Reeves does confirm it, but hastily excuses himself, feeling he doesn't need Valestra anymore.
While investigating possible connections between Sol and Bronski, Batman finds that they were partners in several joint ventures, along with Valestra. Finding his past resurfacing, Batman examines old photos of the three gangsters, one of which includes Carl Beaumont.
- On the cliff overlooking the sea behind Wayne Manor, Bruce proposes to Andrea. She is astonished—she never really believed that Bruce would choose her over "The Plan", but Bruce declares that whatever plan he has for his life, she is now part of it. They embrace and kiss, but are interrupted by a swarm of bats erupting from a hole in the ground.
- Bruce drops Andrea off at her home, where she notices other cars parked outside. It appears odd as her father usually wouldn't see clients this late. She goes inside to tell her father the good news. Bruce and Valestra's "chauffeur", standing watch outside, catch a quick glimpse of each other before he leaves.
- The next morning, Bruce climbs up from exploring the cave under the Manor, which is much more extensive than he'd thought. Alfred is waiting, and regretfully gives Bruce a message: Andrea, returning his ring, saying she has to leave, and telling him to forget her.
- Heartbroken, and having nothing left to hold him back, Bruce throws himself back into "The Plan". He adopts a new, terrifying appearance as "Batman". As Bruce dons the mask of Batman for the first time, Alfred serves as the only witness to this transformation and remarks in both terror and astonishment, "My God!". Thus, Batman's war on crime truly begins.
Seeing no other choice, Valestra goes alone to meet The Joker, with whom he has some past history. Valestra offers to hire him to kill Batman. Joker appears not to be interested, but Valestra angrily reminds him that "his hands are just as dirty" as theirs, and that Batman will surely come for him next. Joker loses his temper briefly, then laughs, assuring Valestra that no one will never hurt him...
Batman confronts Andrea in her hotel room, demanding to know what she knows about the gangster murders. She claims ignorance, then coldly orders him out. But as soon as he's gone, she collapses onto her bed, sobbing uncontrollably.
Later that night, the shadowy vigilante enters Valestra's mansion to execute him, only to find he is too late: Valestra has been poisoned by Joker venom. Sitting on his lap is a surveillance camera, and a radio from which comes Joker's voice. Sheepishly, he admits that he messed up, and the killer isn't Batman after all. Realizing the danger, the vigilante leaps from the building's window just as the package in Valestra's lap explodes.
Batman confronts the vigilante, chasing him across several rooftops, but is then confronted by a police task force with orders to arrest him. As the vigilante vanishes in a cloud of smoke, Batman flees, and is pursued into a construction site by a tactical squad under Harvey Bullock's command. Seeing Batman above, one over-eager officer empties his submachine gun at the building, hitting a propane tank and igniting an explosion that knocks Batman senseless. He is forced to buy time by removing his cape and cowl and sending them flying up towards the police helicopter, distracting the task force while he escapes to the ground floor. Now unmasked, and severely dazed by the explosion, he stumbles to the end of an alley, with the police right behind him, and no means of escape... until Andrea appears in her car and tells him to get in. Bruce jumps in and she speeds away, leaving the police behind.
At Wayne Manor, Andrea tells him what really happened the last night they saw each other...
- Andrea returned home to tell her father the good news of Bruce proposing to her, only to find him in the clutches of three mobsters: Sol, Bronski, and Valestra. Carl had been doing business with them, but now they've discovered that he's been embezzling, and must die. Carl begs for one more chance, saying that he can return their money by no later than the next day. Valestra agrees, but as soon as they are gone, Carl tells Andrea they must leave town immediately. The money will actually take weeks to acquire, and Valestra won't wait. Andrea pleads that she and Bruce have just become engaged, but Carl tells her that they will both be dead by the next day if they don't escape. Anguished, Andrea asks why her father has ruined both their lives, and Carl swears that he will make things right again...
Andrea fills in the rest of the story: she and Carl escaped to Europe, and he was eventually able to pay back the gangsters' money, with interest, but they still wanted revenge.
Bruce reaches the obvious conclusion: Carl had to find another way to rid himself and Andrea of the mobsters, so he has been hunting them down, one by one. Realizing that Andrea had no choice but to leave him, he remembers his love for her, and the two spend the night together.
The next morning, he sees her off. Alfred is happy for his master, but Bruce is unsure whether he can still make the same choice he made ten years before. But while he is looking over the photo of Carl Beaumont and the three gangsters, he realizes something: Valestra's chauffeur, standing in the background, is actually the Joker before his transformation, likely making him the killer's next target.
In his office, Reeves fumes about the police's failure to catch Batman. He is suddenly confronted in secret by the Joker, who reveals that he's seen the real killer and reminds Reeves about his own history with the mobsters. Joker now has his own pet theory: Reeves has hired the mysterious vigilante to eliminate the witnesses to his dealings with Valestra and his gang, which means that Joker himself is next on Reeves' list. Flustered, Reeves denies it, but then Andrea telephones his office to cancel their lunch date. Needing no further proof, Joker stabs Reeves with a needle, injecting him with a slow-acting version of his Joker toxin.
Reeves is rushed to the hospital, laughing hysterically. A doctor sedates him, warning him that he must stay calm in order to let the toxin run its course. But as soon as he is alone, Batman confronts him, demanding to know what the Joker wanted. Reeves confesses: Beaumont enlisted his help in getting himself and Andrea out of town, and kept quietly in touch over the years. Later, when Reeves was running for the office of city councilman for the first time, Beaumont refused his pleas for financial assistance. In his desperation, Reeves sold Beaumont's whereabouts to the mob, being told that they just wanted their embezzled money returned. Remembering it all causes Reeves to start laughing all over again as Batman leaves in disgust, and the doctors rush in to try and settle him down.
Realizing the truth, Batman rushes to Andrea's hotel room to confront her, but she is gone. Then the Joker calls the room, telling her he's sending her a gift. Batman looks out the window to see a toy plane flying towards the room, carrying a bomb. He manages to detonate it before it gets inside, but remembers where he once saw a toy plane like that.
Outside the Joker's hideout, in the ruins of the World's Fair, Andrea remembers what brought her to this point:
- Andrea returns home from grocery shopping, to see Valestra's chauffeur emerging from the house. He silently walks past her, and she rushes inside and screams upon finding her father dead.
Inside his hideout, the Joker is confronted by the killer, but he's already managed to deduce the vigilante's identity as Andrea herself, and the two fight. Andrea appears to have the upper hand, until the Joker escapes and lures her into the path of a gigantic aircraft engine, which sucks her off her feet and nearly kills her until Batman arrives in a Batcycle and crashes it into the engine rotors, destroying it.
Batman confronts Andrea: he now knows her father is dead, and she has been killing his tormentors, one by one in revenge for killing him. She actually arrived in Gotham earlier to kill Chuckie Sol and used her late father as a scapegoat if necessary. Andrea says she has nothing left except her revenge on the men who ruined their lives. Batman pleads with her to leave and let him apprehend Joker his way.
Elsewhere, Joker starts a countdown to blow up the entire complex. Batman's pursuit of Joker takes him through the old exhibitions, and Joker distracts him with a set of booby traps, long enough to don a jetpack and fly into the sky. Batman manages to jump onto his back and yank him off course, causing them both to crash and leaving them exhausted.
Then, Andrea reappears and grabs hold of Joker. Batman pleads with her to run as the fairground is wired to explode, but she refuses and bids him goodbye. The bombs explode, and the entire complex begins to burn. The Joker laughs maniacally as Andrea disappears with him in a cloud of smoke. The ground underneath Batman collapses, and he falls into a sewer line, which carries him away from the inferno.
In the Batcave, Bruce laments that he was unable to save Andrea. Sadly, Alfred tells him that Andrea was beyond redemption. Then Bruce notices a glint in the distance, and finds a locket that belonged to Andrea wedged in a nook in the cave wall: inside is a picture of her and Bruce. Desolate, Bruce realizes that she must still be alive, but is once again lost to him, now and forever.
On a cruise ship out at sea, one of the passengers notices Andrea standing alone at the rail. He starts to introduce himself, but notices her rather cold greeting, and mourning veil. She wishes to be left alone.
Batman stands on a rooftop overlooking the city, as he has done countless times before. Whether by fate or by design, it seems he cannot escape his purpose. Seeing the Bat-signal light up the sky, he throws off his reverie, and swings off into the night.
- The movie serves as Batman's origin story of the DC Animated Universe. Though much of the story is original, there are many plot elements derived from the character's classic DC Comics origin stories. Besides the origins given by creator Bob Kane, there are tributes to Frank Miller's Batman: Year One, and Mike Barr's Batman: Year Two, particularly the latter's ill-fated romance between Bruce Wayne and a young woman linked to a murderous vigilante (The Reaper) who greatly resembled the "Phantasm" character.
- The Phantasm wouldn't reappear in DCAU continuity until the Batman Beyond-era Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue", in which Amanda Waller tells the tale of an agent she hired to kill the parents of young Terry McGinnis. Though the assassin is never named, the silent depiction of the event clearly shows the Phantasm stalking the family. However, a visibly aged Andrea Beaumont refuses to complete the assignment, citing Batman's refusal to resort to murder to achieve his goals and how doing so would dishonor what he stood for.
- During the flashback, at the World of the Future Fair, Andrea asks Bruce if he thinks that they will live to be able to see all the wonders of the future, foreshadowing the events of Batman Beyond.
- During a flashback, Bruce sees a model car at the Gotham City's World of the Future Fair that resembles the future Batmobile. It's likely that he got this inspiration to later help Earl Cooper design the Batmobile as seen in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Mechanic".
- In The New Batman Adventures episode "Beware the Creeper", a TV special on the Joker shows him in an image during his earlier career with the Valestra mob. The image almost resembles the photo Batman finds of Carl Beaumont with the gangsters.
- Joker's next appearance was in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Trial". However, the explanation of his survival to the Phantasm's wrath was left unknown (see Trivia).
- Batman was previously framed by a crime that he didn't comit in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "On Leather Wings".
Home video releases
- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (VHS)
- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (DVD)
- Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero/Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (Double Feature) (DVD)
- Because it was a feature film, the movie featured scenes of violence and some mature content that could not have been shown on the original series. These include:
- Batman throwing punches directly at an opponent's face, and said punches being shown impacting, such as with Chuckie Sol's goon in the opening fight scene.
- The deliberate murders (though they are performed off-screen) of Chuckie Sol, Buzz Bronski and Salvatore Valestra (the first actual fatality caused by Joker gas, as well as his corpse being shown).
- Characters such as Valestra and the pre-transformed Joker smoking.
- When Reeves mocks him, Bruce gives him back his handkerchief and says he knows where he can "stick" it.
- Andrea kneeing Joker in the groin during the fight in his hideout.
- Batman bleeding after getting caught in an explosion at the construction site during his escape from the Gotham police.
- Batman kicking Joker in the face, hard enough to bloody his nose and knock out one of his teeth.
- Batman's arm being knifed by the propeller of Joker's toy plane, causing a small spray of blood.
- Batman and Joker both bleeding after crashing into the giant globe at the fair grounds.
- The film was only released for a very brief theatrical run, since the producers did not anticipate high receipts. However, it was very well-reviewed, with some critics going so far as to suggest it as the most accurate depiction of Batman that had yet existed outside of the comics world (in stark contrast to the live-action films directed by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher). Upon release on home media, the video found a wider audience and is now considered something of a cult classic. Given this favorable reception, Bruce Timm expressed some remorse that they had not tried to market the film more aggressively before the theatrical release.
- The film's plot very much resembles a scrapped Batman: The Animated Series episode written by Michael Reaves, entitled "Vigil", in which Bruce would have remember his early days as Batman.
- During the flashback of Bruce's first crime-fighting job, the ski mask covering his face also covers his mouth when he kicks one of the thugs.
- During the flashback of Bruce and Andrea beginning their relationship, she is wearing a sleeveless dress. However, sleeves appear on it when Bruce trips her.
- Valestra's silver waistcoat disappears when Joker shoves him into the roller coaster, and then again when Joker says, "Don't touch me, old man! I don't know where you've been".
- When Batman first sees the photo of Carl Beaumont and the gangsters, Beaumont is looking directly at the camera. However, when he later identifies the Joker in the photo, Beaumont is looking off to the side.
- When Batman shows Andrea the picture of her father and the gangsters, his hand holding the picture is missing its glove, but in the next close-up shot, the glove is back on his hand.
- After Batman leaves Andrea's hotel room, she drops her glass of wine. However, it doesn't break when it hits the ground, even though there is a sound of glass shattering.
- Unlike in the series, Batman does not wear a helmet over his cowl while riding the Batcycle in the movie.
- Andrea rescues Bruce before he is captured, and they rush safely back to Wayne Manor. However, the police should still be able to catch them, as helicopters would follow them from above and radio which direction they're headed. Also, the officers who saw them speed away would still follow them in police cruisers and inform additional units to be on the lookout for an escaping convertible. Likewise, it seems strange how the Gotham police never seem to act this aggressively in capturing more dangerous criminals as they are with Batman in the movie.
- When Reeves is in the hospital, the door is left halfway open when he is alone. However, right when Batman enters through the window, the door is closed.
- The grave of Bruce's parents looks completely different than how it was seen in the original series episode "Nothing to Fear".
- To coincide with the film, a 1993 episode of HBO First Look, entitled "Behind the Mask: The Making of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm", interviewed the cast and crew.
- In the 2005 film Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne uses a similar ski mask outfit used in this film before using a batsuit. It's unknown if this was an homage by the filmmakers.
- Dana Delany would work with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill again in the three-part Superman: The Animated Series episode "World's Finest" as Lois Lane.
- The name "Phantasm" is not used in any way, shape, or form within the context of the storyline. Without the title and credits of the movie, Andrea Beaumont's alter-ego would be practically nameless.
- Chuckie Sol's line when he tries to run over the Phantasm, "This time I've got you, you lousy stinking..." is almost exactly what was said by Tony Zucco in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Robin's Reckoning", in which he almost runs Batman over, "Now I've got you, you lousy stinking...".
- Despite his significant role in the original series, Commissioner Gordon only appears twice in the feature film.
- One of the thugs in the semi truck heist is named "Radomski", shown in the newspaper where he claims to be innocent. This is a homage to Batman: The Animated Series co-creator Eric Radomski.
- Stacy Keach voices both Carl Beaumont and the Phantasm, encouraging the red herring belief that they are the same person. This type of red herring was used again in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker when Mark Hamill voiced Jordan Pryce (the prime suspect for the new Joker).
- Robin/Dick Grayson's absence is explained in the novelization of the movie that he is in college.
- The fate of the Joker is left unrevealed in the movie, but a DCAU comic expanding on the movie's events provides an explanation: Andrea drags him into the sewer below and they fight for a while until an explosion from above separates them and knocks Joker into the water, where he is carried away by the current.
- The World of the Future Fair is inspired by the 1964 New York World's Fair; the song playing is similar to "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" which played in the Disney/General Electric sponsored "Progressland".
- When a toyline of the film was released by Kenner, an action figure of the Phantasm was packaged unmasked, which gave away the film's mystery. Also, an action figure of the Joker in his jetpack was released.
- Some sources have stated that the film takes place in the 1940s. This cannot be true as the storyline focuses on advanced technology that didn't exist in that period, and the original series episode "Beware the Gray Ghost" featured a magazine cover dated in 1992.
- In the 2014 videogame, Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, this movie is referenced by the Joker, because he said in a level that in the past, he had a jetpack, and along with Batman, "walk" with him in an amusement park.
- The design of Arthur Reeves in this movie, is very similar to the design of Harvey Dent, before his predisfiguration in "Two-Face".
- When Reeves is in the hospital, his aspect is very similar to the aspect of Jack Ryder in "Beware the Creeper".
- The original plot for the first Batman animated film of the DCAU, was intended to be the episode, "Trial".
- This was the only animated Batman movie that was released in theaters, until Batman: The Killing Joke was released in July 2016. Also, it was subsequently followed by Adam West's Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders in October.
|Kevin Conroy||Batman/Bruce Wayne|
|Dana Delany||Andrea Beaumont|
|Hart Bochner||Arthur Reeves|
|Stacy Keach||Phantasm and Carl Beaumont|
|Abe Vigoda||Salvatore Valestra|
|Dick Miller||Chuckie Sol|
|John P. Ryan||Buzz Bronski|
|Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.||Alfred|
|Bob Hastings||Commissioner Gordon|
|Robert Costanzo||Detective Bullock|
|Mark Hamill||The Joker|
|Jane Downs||Additional Voices|
|Pat Musick||Announcer, Additional Voices|
|Vernee Watson-Johnson||Party guest, Additional Voices|
|Ed Gilbert||Jake and Dougan, Dispatch, Additional Voices|
|Peter Renaday||Doctor, Additional Voices|
|Jeff Bennett||Laughing biker thug, Helicopter cop, Additional Voices|
|Charles Howerton||Thug, Additional Voices|
|Thom Pinto||Additional Voices|
|Marilu Henner||Additional Voices|
|Neil Ross||Biker thug, Additional Voices|
|Arleen Sorkin||Bambi (uncredited)|
Reeves: (on the television) What kind of city are we running when we depend on the support of a potential madman?
Bruce: Thanks for the handkerchief, Arthur. You know where you can stick it.
Andrea: Hi. Hey, what happened to you? Trip over some loose cash? It's been three days since we met and still no calls. I figured you must be dead or something.
Reeves: What do you mean, you won't?! You have to go after him!
Bruce: What the heck am I doing, Alfred? This isn't part of the Plan! I must be going nuts!
(At his parents' grave)
Bruce: (after meeting Sal Valestra) Is my shirt too big, or is that my flesh crawling?
(Bruce proposes to Andrea)
Alfred: (when Bruce puts on the cowl for the first time) My... God!
Salvatore Valestra: (about to see the Joker) If there was just some other way...
Joker: Can't be too careful with all those weirdos around.
Joker: That's it. That's what I want to see! A nice-big-smile.
Batman: Where's your father now?
Joker: Whoops! Ha! Guess the joke is on me. You're not Batman after all. Looks like there's a new face in Gotham and soon his name will be all over town... to say nothing of his legs, and feet, and spleen, and head...
Batman: This madness ends now!
Reeves: B-Beaumont needed me to help him and his kid get out of town. He kept in touch.