I have come to the conclusion that one of the main reasons why I grew up a Batman fan as a 1990s kid more than Superman was that the caped crusader had more going for him during the decade (the last movie to star Superman, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, came out in 1987, and was beyond words…in a bad way. Also, don’t get me started on the video game disaster that was Superman 64).
Tim Burton’s first two Batflicks are still decent, Batman Forever (1995) is now forgettable, and the less said about Batman & Robin (1997), the better. The one film that is sadly overlooked, however, is Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993). While I have not seen any of the times the cape was worn by the legendary Adam West, I would argue that this animated film is the best Batman movie ever made by someone not named Christopher Nolan.
Based off of the highly successful (and still entertaining) animated show, the film focuses on a past relationship Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) had with Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany). Past events catch up, as a masked phantasm (though he is never called that) is killing certain mobsters, and Batman is getting the blame. Things also don’t help when the Joker (Mark Hamill, who, along with Conroy, would voice the same characters the Arkham Asylum games) is involved as well.
I know this film is over twenty years old, but I still don’t want to ruin one of the most underrated films I have seen. What I will say is that this gives the character Bruce Wayne the depth of character that was never seen till Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Every time you see Wayne at the gravestone of his parents, you get chills. You can almost feel the rain.
The film also does something that not even Nolan did as well: it gives Bruce Wayne the most realistic romance he has had on film. There are moments where you feel he may be able to actually have a normal life.
Parents, the film is PG, which means there is fighting, and little blood. There is also some kissing. That is it. If your kids are fans of the Bat like I am, you should not let them miss out on this gem of a film.
It is refreshing that, over twenty years later, the film is still fresh, dark, scary, and has aged rather well.
Overall: Four Stars ****