Hello, I’m a unicorn. Yesterday was Batman day, and since I’m late to the punch on everything, I decided to celebrate the Caped Crusader’s 75th birthday today with my favorite Batman film ever out to theaters.
Batman Mask of the Phantasm centers around a new villain in Gotham, one who kills mobsters corrupt politicians. Batman is accused of these murders and must clear his name while also being confronted with a woman from his past. In flashback land, a pre-Batman Bruce Wayne struggles between his vow to avenge his parents and his budding romance with an heiress named Andrea Beaumont. The plot thickens when the Joker is involved in the present day murders, and we get a little backstory on his character; not much, but it’s there. This movie is one part film noir, one part tragic romance, one part gothic horror, one part superhero film, and all beautifully scored and animated.
The dynamic between the young Andrea and Bruce is really interesting because it’s a part of the origin we rarely see. Usually, when we flashback to a Batman early in his career, he’s completely convicted. He only struggles to decide on a motif and nothing else. Here, we see him nearly give up the mask before he even dons it because he has one shot at happiness that he’s afraid to squander. This leads the the most beautiful scenes in the movie where he’s at his parents’ grave, begging them to let him out of his vow because he’d never expected to fall in love and for the pain of their loss to lessen. It’s a genuine tearjerker that gave me chills even after I’d watched it for the third time. Everything about the scene works beautifully, the voice acting, the confusion and despair in Bruce’s eyes, the crackles of thunder, the sad and foreboding score, and the ending. The biggest tragedy in the movie is their romance. Bruce has one chance at happiness, but fate intervenes and their love is never meant to be. I also liked the symbolism of the World of Tomorrow. When Bruce and Andrea are young and visiting the fair, it is bright and shiny, much like their future together. In the modern moments, it it derelict and a ghost town, indicating the crushed hopes of the two lovers and how life has affected them. At the very end, it is destroyed, marking the point of no return for their relationship.
The Phantasm is your typical dark Batman foil character.You know the one: he or she dresses all in black or dark grey, seems ethereal and supernatural, but unlike Batman, actually kills people. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I will say that what makes Phantasm interesting is the twist and the motivations. It brings up great themes of revenge and how far one should go before it becomes harmful. It also paves the way for the beautiful speech by Alfred at the end. This and the last two lines of the film fully encapsulate the arc of the Phantasm and the bittersweet ending.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this to any Batman fan, kid or adult. There are a few intense scenes, and a bit of a downer ending, but it is amazing. The animation is moody and beautiful, the action scenes are pulse pounding, young Bruce and Andrea’s romance is tragic, and, thanks to the fantastic VA director, Andrea Romano, the voice acting is amazing. Because of this, I actually like Mask of the Phantasm movie better than the Nolan trilogy.
I like it better than the Nolan Trilogy. Shoot me.
With pleasure…*pulls out a tommy gun*
Where’d you get that gun?
It is the gun of fanboy righteousness that you just now decided to write me having. KNEEL BEFORE BOX!!
Uh Oh…*Dodges behind the bed as the gun goes off* So what are you waiting for? Watch it now, and Happy Belated Batman day!