Opening

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53% This Is Where I Leave You Sep 19
—— A Walk Among the Tombstones Sep 19
82% Tracks Sep 19
92% The Guest Sep 17

Top Box Office

13% No Good Deed $24.3M
73% Dolphin Tale 2 $15.9M
92% Guardians of the Galaxy $8.1M
19% Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $4.9M
20% Let's Be Cops $4.4M
88% The Drop $4.1M
37% If I Stay $3.9M
36% The November Man $2.8M
33% The Giver $2.6M
67% The Hundred-Foot Journey $2.4M

Coming Soon

68% The Equalizer Sep 26
69% The Boxtrolls Sep 26
86% The Two Faces of January Sep 26
—— Two Night Stand Sep 26
91% Jimi: All Is by My Side Sep 26

New Episodes Tonight

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62% Under the Dome: Season 2

Discuss Last Night's Shows

—— American Dad!: Season 11
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89% Manhattan: Season 1
97% Masters of Sex: Season 2
78% Ray Donovan: Season 2
87% The Strain: Season 1
—— Unforgettable: Season 2
—— Witches of East End: Season 2

Certified Fresh TV

87% Boardwalk Empire: Season 5
86% The Bridge (FX): Season 2
91% Doctor Who: Season 8
83% Extant: Season 1
89% The Honorable Woman: Season 1
87% The Knick: Season 1
89% Manhattan: Season 1
97% Masters of Sex: Season 2
90% Outlander: Season 1
82% Satisfaction: Season 1
87% The Strain: Season 1
79% You're the Worst: Season 1

Batman Beyond - Return of the Joker Reviews

Page 1 of 60
Drake T

Super Reviewer

December 24, 2012
Still, to this day, my favorite Batman animated movie. There's just something perfect about an aging Bruce Wayne played by Conroy and Hamill as a returning Joker. It's also the magic of Bruce Timm's stylization at it's peak of the 90's DC animated era.

What's really incredible though, is the script! I mean the whole thing was written from scratch and yet the dialogue, tone and characterizations are just as good if not better than a lot of existing dark/gritty Batman comic book storylines.

When Batman Beyond first debuted it was gimmicky, old fans hated the idea of replacing Bruce with a hip, young guy to appeal to a younger audience but over the years it's been finely tuned to become a credible cannon of it's own and this movie is the final hurrah celebrating that.

Full of suspense, action, humor in all the right places. I often come back to this movie when I'm in a Batman mood. :]
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

August 6, 2012
Batman Beyond - return of the Joker is again, quite confusing if you're not familiar with this strain of the Batman legacy (The Batman Beyond one obviously) but it's fairly easy to pick up what's going on and who is who. The best thing is obviously the return of Mark Hamill as the voice of Joker, although you wouldn't know it was him unless you were a big fan of the original (and can read credits obviously). Good story.
michael e.
michael e.

Super Reviewer

December 13, 2010
This animated movie had a gripping dark and inventive story line. The plot of this movie was so clever that i didn't know what to expect throughout the whole film which in my mind is what makes a great film. Having the Joker be the main focus of the film, and having Mark Hamill play him again was a brilliant choice, and as always he does a fantastic job in the role, and the whole story is very well pulled off. But Mark isn't the only great actor in the film, Will Friedle does a great job as his character of Batman Beyond, and Kevin Conroy returns as the aging Bruce Wayne for this film, and both actors do great jobs. Also the animation and music for this film is incredibly well done, and I would say this is one of the best animated films ever made, but its also one of the most underrated, seeing how noone ever brings it up when engaging in a conversation on superhero films or animated superhero films, which is very sad, I just wish it had more recognition like the Dark knight, or at least Batman Returns, but its a classic none the less.
If you haven't seen this film do yourself a favor and check it out, it is worth it.
MANUGINO
MANUGINO

Super Reviewer

January 24, 2010
Excellent movie! Love the plot and the action, great ending as it should be. Voices were right on cue, fantastic animated flick.

Late one night in Gotham, several members of the infamous Jokerz gang (Bonk, Chucko, Woof, Ghoul and the Dee-Dee twins) are breaking into a warehouse full of high-tech equipment. They attempt to use hovercraft to move one large piece of machinery. But they are confronted by Batman (Will Friedle) and are forced to fight their way out. After an exciting air chase over the city, the machinery is destroyed and the gang gets away.

Back in the Batcave, an elderly Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) practices throwing a Batarang to keep his remaining skills sharp. When the Batmobile returns, Bruce's replacement Batman- Terry McGinnis- confirms that he stopped the robbery but is still uncertain about what's happening. The same gang of Jokerz has been stealing high-tech gear several times over the past month. Bruce suspects that the Jokerz are acting as fences for the stolen goods.

A news report on the TV in the Batcave announces that Bruce is going to be taking back control of Wayne Enterprises. The majority of the company is glad about this change, but one board member, Jordan Price (Mark Hamil) is bitter; he had been next in line for the chief position before Bruce's return.

With his job finished for the moment, Terry goes out to see his girlfriend Dana at a dance club. Unfortunately, Terry is exhaused and dozes off while dancing.

The Jokerz gang faces their mysterious boss, who berates them for their failure. Bonk is outraged, claiming that the mysterious man has merely tricked his way into the gang and has them stealing mysterious techno items for no purpose. The boss shoots Bonk with a "Bang-flag" gun, confirming his identity: he's the ORIGINAL Joker (Mark Hamil), and he makes the others swear loyalty so they don't end up like Bonk. Ghoul uses the computer to find another company with the equipment they need. Joker spots one entry on the list that he thinks will be "fun."

The next night, Bruce and Terry are at a function for Wayne Enterprises to celebrate Bruce's return. As Bruce begins giving a speech to the crowd. The microphone cuts out in the middle of his speech and the speakers erupt with Joker's trademark laugh. Woof (a Jokerz member with features resembling a hyena due to genetic splicing) attacks the crowd. Terry immediately runs to find shelter and change into the Batsuit. Just then, a panel rises up and Joker reveals himself. Bruce is horrified by the apparent return of his greatest foe.

Batman confronts Joker, who is not really impressed with the "newcomer." Joker knocks some people off the building and manages to escape while Batman rescues them. In the car, Terry feels like a failure because he let the Joker escape. Bruce reassures Terry that he did the right thing. Terry wonders how the Joker could be apparently young and healthy despite being at least 80 years old now.

Terry visits Commissioner Barbara Gordon ( Angie Harmon) to learn more about the Joker, but she refuses to tell him anything. Barbara then meets with an older man named Tim as Terry leaves.

Bruce analyzes the night's events at the Batcave, and the voice samples from last night and an earlier encounter are an exact match. Bruce remarks to Terry that Joker died years ago. Terry puts forth a theory that Bruce killed the Joker, and that is the reason why Bruce stopped being Batman. Rather than counter this argument, Bruce asks Terry to give back the Batman suit- he feels Terry has done more than enough for the city, and cannot ask him to do any more. Terry feels that he is using the suit to make up for his own past sins, insisting that the life as Batman is what he wants. Bruce insults Terry, calling him a "stupid kid" who knows nothing about what he wants. Terry storms out in anger, leaving the suit behind.

Next morning, Terry has breakfast with his mother and brother Matt. They are both shocked- his job with Mr. Wayne usually keeps Terry out at unusual hours. Terry reveals that he is no longer working for Mr. Wayne.

The next night, Dana is glad to see that Terry is more energetic and his attention is fully devoted to her. Terry is confronted by two blond girls- who turn out to be the Dee-Dee twins. The Jokerz gang attacks the dance club looking for Terry.

At the Batcave, Bruce is sitting at a chemical mixer when he is attacked by a gas bomb. The Joker has entered the Batcave- and he knows that Bruce Wayne is/was Batman.

Terry manages to fight off the Jokerz gang, but his girlfriend Dana is injured in the struggle. After paramedics arrive and assure him that Dana will recover, Dana speeds off to Wayne Manor. He calls Bruce but recieves no answer, which panics Terry- Bruce virtually never leaves the house, so why is he not answering?

At Wayne Manor, Terry finds Bruces' dog, Ace, injured. Terry walks into the Batcave to see it covered with Joker graffiti (in a scene mimicking the discovery of his father's death). Bruce has a Joker-style smile frozen on his face. Despite his toxic infection, Bruce directs Terry to a supply of the Joker-venom antidote he had been working on when the Joker broke in.

Next day, Barbara is watching over Bruce as he slowly recovers from the toxin. Terry releases a cover story that Bruce suffered a bad fall and will not be able to take control of the company just yet. Terry again asks Barbara about the Joker, arguing that he is part of this and deserves to know. Barbara relents and begins her story.

Barbara tells him about life in the Bat-Family almost fifty years ago: She (as Batgirl) used to operate alongside Batman and his young assistant Robin- Tim Drake. One night on patrol, Tim saves what he thinks is a damsel in distress but turns out to be Joker's partner Harley Quinn. Tim is kidnapped and there is no sign of him for three weeks. One night on a rooftop they spot a booby trap set by the Joker, and evidence from it leads them to Arkham Asylum- partially demolished because the facility has been relocated.

At Arkham, Batman & Batgirl confront Joker & Harley. Joker and Harley introduce their new "son," Joker Junior- it's Tim, disfigured and apparently brainwashed by Joker's toxins. In a fury, Batman attacks Joker while Batgirl goes after Harley. They struggle on the cliffs outside the building and Harley falls over the edge.

Joker escapes and shows off home movies of Robin being turned into Joker Junior. HE reveals that Robin fought for a long time, but before long began to confess things. And now Joker knows everything about Batman- who he is, and why he works."Behind all the stern and batarangs, [Batman's] just a little boy in a playsuit crying for Mommy and Daddy." Joker thinks that Batman's situation "would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic." After another struggle, Joker pulls out a knife and stabs Batman in the leg. Tim picks up a gun and points it at Batman, but suddenly turns around and shoots the Joker. Joker collapses on a table, his last words being "That's not funny." Tim collapses in tears as Batgirl tries to comfort him.

Barbara explains that Joker was buried beneath Arkham, that Harley's body was never recovered, and that Tim spent a year with their friend Leslie Tompkins- who was able to restore the boy's sanity. Afterwards, Bruce forbade Tim to be Robin again. Tim left the group and things between him and Bruce have never been the same. Barbara explains that Tim Drake is now an experienced communications engineer (he was the man she met with earlier).

Terry dons the Batman suit and tries to observe Tim in stealth, but Tim spots him right away. Tim swears that he has put the old life behind him and is far from nostalgic about his experiences as Robin.

Terry has one additional theory- Jordan Price, the Wayne Enterprises employee with a serious grudge against Bruce. Price is, at the moment, on his private boat confronted by the Jokerz gang. Price admits that he gave the gang security codes so they could steal from the laboratory, but knows nothing about the attempt on Wayne's life. The Jokerz confess that they have come to kill Price because he is a loose end. Batman steps in to save Price's life, but the boat is suddenly glowing in a mysterious light. Batman and Price manage to escape shortly before the ship is blown apart from the sky. Back on shore, Batman gives the police a recording of Price talking about his actions with the Jokerz and he is taken into custody.

Back at the Batcave, Terry sits with Ace at the computer, gloomy because he is out of ideas. Terry thinks that the "real" Batman would've remembered just the right trick to solve the case by now. Bruce comes up behind Terry and remarks that things are rarely that simple. Bruce admits that he didn't want Terry to end up like Tim, which is why he asked for the Batsuit back. As they argue, Terry notices something- Joker smashed Bruce's display case of old costumes, but only the Robin suit was shredded. Terry again thinks Tim Drake could be the cause of everything. Terry analyzes everything the Jokerz have stolen, and figures out that a communications expert like Drake could use the equipment to access and use sattelite defense systems. Terry realizes that this is what destroyed Price's boat. Bruce orders Terry to suit up and investigate. Terry requests one more weapon for his arsenal: Ace.

At the local research station, Batman confronts Tim again, but it is revealed to be a hologram. Joker communicates with Batman, confirming Terry's theory, and activating the sattelite defense system again. Terry barely outruns the laser beam with the Batmobile.

After tracing down the Jokerz headquarters, Batman fights the gang one on one with Ace helping to take down the animalistic Woof. Inside, Terry confronts Tim Drake- who has no idea how he got there or what is happening. Tim flashes back to his memories of shooting Joker, and is horrified. Batman offers to help, but Tim insists that he is fine. In the process, Tim calls Batman "Terry"- something that is odd because the new Batman never introduced himself. Tim attacks Batman, restraining him. Then, as Terry & Bruce watch, Tim transforms into the Joker!

Joker explains that he encoded a fragment of DNA onto a microchip while Tim was under his control, as a plan for return; Tim has no idea Joker is using his body. Powering up the sattellite defenses again, Joker selects a few possible targets: the hospital where Dana is recovering, the park where Terry's mother and brother are playing, and Wayne Manor.Joker is not threatened by Terry in the least- he knows everything the original Batman & Robin knew at their best. Ace attacks Joker to give Batman some time. Bruce gives Terry some tips about fighting, stating that Joker is vain and likes to talk so Terry shouldn't listen. Terry realizes that he likes to talk too and can use this to his advantage.

Terry hides in the rafters, taunting the Joker- berating his lame comedy gimmicks and claiming that the only reason Joker kept returning as a criminal was because he never got a laugh out of Batman. Terry does laugh at Joker only because he finds the clown so pathetic. Furious, Joker launches several bombs at the ceiling, damaging his control console and redirecting the laser beam to the factory where they are fighting.

Joker has Terry pinned down, demanding that he laugh before death. Terry, desperate, picks up a joy buzzer Joker had dropped and zaps the microchip on Joker's neck. The chip is neutralized and the Joker is gone for good. Batman collects Tim Drake & Ace, escaping before the laser hits the factory. When the factory is destroyed, so is the control panel for the defense systems, shutting out access for good.

The Dee-Dee twins are released from jail on bail into the custody of their grandmother- who turns out to be Harley Quinn!!!

The next day, Terry meets Tim and Barbara at the hospital. Tim realizes that Terry saves his life, and thinks that Terry is the best one to succeed Bruce as Batman. As Terry leaves, he runs into Bruce- who has decided to finally make his peace with Tim.

Terry picks up the Batsuit once again that night, vowing to continue the legacy of Batman.
Conner R

Super Reviewer

November 16, 2009
I almost love it as much as Mask of the Phantasm. A great plot and mystery. I've always thought Batman Beyond was one of the best animated series put on t.v., it actually outshines the original series for me. The blend of sci-fi/detective noir was done so nicely. The Joker actually became scary in this and you get to see him do some new tricks, more on the brutal side.
deano
deano

Super Reviewer

June 28, 2007
This future new Batman is pretty well from his mentor (the original Batman). The voice acting is well done, the story is compelling and dynamic, and the physical limitations of the real world are easily evaded with the animation medium. This makes Batman a lot more agile, swift, and sneaky then he ever could be in the movies.
This story links together the events that happened with the Joker's death and the old Robin which make this movie have a great storyline.
Luke B

Super Reviewer

February 28, 2009
Batman Beyond was rather a brave show. It's very setting meant favourite characters such as Jim Gordon, Alfred etc. would no longer appear, and anybody being Batman other than Bruce Wayne is pure heresy. Luckily it was an excellent show that stayed true to both The Animated Series AND Batman as a whole. It also had a wonderful setting for new and original ideas. Return of the Joker plays a dangerous game by bringing back one of the greatest characters. Luckily the film has both elements of The Animated Series and Batman Beyond. It's a grand mix, and will certainly appeal to all Batman fans. It's eerie in it's darkness and some images were very disturbing. Some of the explanations towards the end were a bit "out there" and not much was made of Bruce's and The Joker's rivalry. What it did have, worked. God Bless Mark Hamill.
MissMorganLeee
MissMorganLeee

Super Reviewer

January 2, 2009
gotta love Mista J.!
Emily A

Super Reviewer

November 26, 2008
I really like this movie, despite the blatant irony that Terry McGuinness seems to have no problem causing way more collateral damage in the pursuit of villains than they ever would have caused by themselves. I can't say that I can argue with my friends who maintain that Mark Hammill was the best Joker there has ever been; his voice performance is undeniably special and stands out the way Heath Ledger's live action one did. I also really love the deep scars that his presence has left on the aging Bruce Wayne, and how different his interactions with the next-gen Batman are. This does a lot to underline how different the old-school and new-school Batman are. Plus the inter-referentiality of this movie makes it especially delicious for fangirls like me. My biggest complaint I think might be the manic animation and the short running time. 77 minutes? I guess thier plan is to leave you wanting more. The soundtrack is also wonderful. This film is such a treat.
cancercapricorn2002
cancercapricorn2002

Super Reviewer

January 25, 2008
Some minor spoilers here**************************************************

It is approximately 50 years into the future and Bruce Wayne has retired from active crime-fighting preferring instead to monitor his protégé: Terry McGinnis. McGinnis who lost his own father under tragic circumstances is the Tomorrow Knight and patrols the streets of Gotham in a souped up Batsuit. He comes across a street gang called the Jokerz who are involved in a high tech robbery from WayneCorp which puzzles him as it doesn't fit the typical street gang M.O. His investigation leads to cover ups and secrets and things only becoming more confusing with the reappearance in Gotham of Batman's greatest nemesis - The Joker, thought dead for many years. But is he who he really claims to be? Bruce fires Terry's from the job without any explanation. Terry who is utterly confused turns to Barbara Gordon, the once Batgirl, who is now the commissioner of police to learn about what happened the night Batman had his final confrontation with the Joker many years ago.

The flashback that follows is unnerving partly because the events unfold in a cartoon and because of what the film doesn't show us. Just as with Jaws, Dini holds his cards very close to his chest making the revelation all the more disturbing. Also, for those who thought the animated joker straddled the line between funny and cruel, prepared to be blown away by how sadistic he really is.

All this leads up to a satisfying conclusion in a film that tries not to use tired clichés to reveal the mystery of the Joker. No, it's not a Joker-clone or a long lost son! The stakes are high in the final confrontation between the Joker and the new Batman, when Bruce is almost killed and Gotham faces devastation at the whim of a madman. Dini is a master storyteller and he knows these characters inside out. He weaves a brilliant final act that not only convincingly ties all the loose ends, but ends up giving you (or at least me) new respect for McGinnis' Batman. His take down of the Joker is memorable not for it's action, but because of the psychological leverage Terry tries to use. The last 2 thirds of the movie alone make it a must watch for Batfans and thriller fans alike.

Finally, voice acting is credible. Kevin Conroy is Batman. He's been doing it since 1992 and he's timbre is the perfect pitch (pardon the pun) for the Dark Knight. Mark Hamill reprises Joker from the animated series, and puts up a valid case for dubbing all past and future Joker portrayals. Hamill has bounds of energy and fun with this character and you can hear it on screen. Will Friedle is convincing as McGinnis - he doesn't play Terry as a moper or a whino. My only minor gripe is that they didn't use Stockard Channing for Barbara Gordon. I love her rendition of the character, although Angie Harmon is okay.

I can't recommend this movie enough, though if you rent/buy it please make sure you have the uncut version PG-13. The edited version is too diluted and the movie experience diminishes with it.
Jason S

Super Reviewer

December 22, 2007
This was good but there seemed to be too much effort to hide the true Joker from the viewer. I like the way they blended the flashbacks into the show and the animation involved was great.
The Joker seemed more than evil in this one and I liked that. He seemed to have reached the end of his sanity and this is what that outcome is.
It had some great stuff and I would like to see more in the future.
Ken S

Super Reviewer

March 28, 2007
Pretty good little animated flick. Mark Hamill is awesome as the Joker
Aaron N

Super Reviewer

August 6, 2006
Never really watched this show, but this movie is awesome. A great plot and truly dark. Some great animated action, that is also very smart with what is done.
Nick C.
Nick C.

Super Reviewer

July 26, 2012
Wow, I've seen the edited and the un-edited versions and I gotta say, both of them are just plain terrific. A fantastic story that is full of twists and turns, great animation (one of the best I've ever seen), and of course the voice cast was excellent. Having pretty much the same cast as the cartoon series of Batman was a wise move. Also, some of the lines in the film are hilarous (in a good way), almost all of the Joker's dialouge is superb (as usual). Personally, I preferred the un-edited version, but at least the best lines and the story has not changed.
Willis T

Super Reviewer

October 30, 2011
Though Terry is not as great a protagonist, the film getting so dark really is something, Mark Hamill does wonderful in his performance, and the future of Batman and friends shown here really is something.
Jedd Y

Super Reviewer

January 7, 2010
While the Batman Beyond TV series may have been a fresh start, the Return of the Joker opens up old wounds and addresses unanswered questions from the past, making for a dark and compelling tale of what was the final confrontation between the Dark Knight and his greatest nemesis-until his seeming resurrection in the far future. Boasts typically good animation from the DCAU team and first-rate voice acting with fan favourites Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman/Bruce Wayne and the Joker respectively.
Darik H

Super Reviewer

August 9, 2007
As I've said in at least two previous reviews, I hate most cartoons and I don't consider animated movies "real" movies. However, there are exceptions to my disdain for the cartooning medium, most of which are courtesy of producer Bruce Timm, and one of my personal favorites of these is a series from the early 2000s called Batman Beyond. Presented as a futuristic continuation of the critically acclaimed Batman animated series, Beyond was set fifty years in the future, in a world in which Bruce Wayne had long since retired as Batman, only for his secret to be discovered by troubled teenager Terry McGinnis. Because Bruce, now in his seventies and with a weak heart, is incapable of acting as the Dark Knight, Terry takes the mantle on in his stead, wearing a cybernetic bodysuit that gives him enhanced strength, flight capability, and a two-way comm link to the Batcave, where Wayne can monitor his progress and coach him through the fight against crime. I loved this series when it was released, because it didn't just feel like a continuation of the animated series, but a legitimate addition to the character's history, showing us a possible future for Bruce Wayne that made total sense (dramatically speaking) while introducing a fresh new main character to carry on the Batman name and creating an interesting student-teacher dynamic between the two. Sure, it was a blatant attempt to draw in younger viewers by making Batman a relatable teenager, dealing with high school, a girlfriend, and his family; but in the hands of Timm and his collaborators, Beyond grew into its own as a series, leaving behind such labels as "Batman spin-off" or "Spider-Man rip-off with Iron Man overtones" by establishing its own unique mythology with original stories and villains that weren't just updates versions of the classic Batman rogues. Because of that, it's incredibly ironic that the pinnacle of Batman Beyond's awesomeness would come with Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, a direct-to-video movie designed to bridge the gap between the original Batman series and the spin-off, while simultaneously bringing the Joker into the futuristic setting of Beyond.

Further proving that the best Batman movies are the ones that feature the Clown Prince of Crime as the bad guy, Return of the Joker works so well because it builds off of long-established relationships between its central characters. This is the culmination of the Batman/Joker war, and the story takes their bitter rivalry to its logically dark conclusion; at the same time, it interjects Terry into this decades-long power struggle as a wild card, putting him through the ultimate test of his mettle as the Dark Knight by squaring him off against the greatest enemy Batman has ever faced. But just to make things more interesting, the story is presented as a mystery: Wayne, after a long period of seclusion, has decided to take an active role in his family's company again, which rubs some people in the corporation the wrong way; meanwhile, Terry has finally gained a sense of confidence in his role as the new Batman, even though the hours make it difficult to have any kind of a personal life. Suddenly, someone who claims to be the original Joker makes a suitably ostentatious entrance into the Gotham scene, which shakes Bruce to the core; despite the fact that the real Clown Prince should be nearly eighty years old (while this new claimant to the throne is still relatively young and vital), all evidence seems to indicate that this man is the actual Joker himself- something that Bruce claims is impossible, as the genuine article has been dead for decades. Haunted by this vision of a nightmare from the past, Bruce demands that Terry turn over the batsuit, unwilling to put another person's life on the line for his mission; unfortunately, the move proves to be too little, too late, as the Joker somehow knows all of Wayne's secrets, setting his sights on Bruce and Terry while they're most vulnerable. With Bruce on the edge of death and the Joker free to reign terror on all of Gotham, Terry discovers that the key to the Joker's identity may lie in the events of his final battle with the original Dark Knight, and a last, twisted act of cruelty committed by the Harlequin of Hate.

The cast is straight from the television show, and like all the Timm animation casts, it is a model of absolute perfection. To begin with, there's Will Friedle as Terry McGinnis, the titular Batman Beyond; Friedle, a Nickelodeon veteran from shows such as Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Boy Meets World, has found in voice work a way to keep playing teenagers well into his thirties- he's got that kind of voice that just exudes youthful energy (which even comes through in his Batman voice, thankfully without rendering it laughable). His McGinnis is earnest, but with a smart-aleck-y arrogant streak that distinguishes him from the first Batman; he's more headstrong, likely to rush in without thinking and end up in over his head. Still, he's a very likable character, especially in the way that he banters with his mentor. Speaking of which, Bruce Wayne is played by the incomparable Kevin Conroy, who had been voicing the character almost continuously since the original animated series began in 1992. This is for very good reason: he is AMAZING, easily the best voice performer to ever tackle Batman (in fact, he's still playing the part, in the direct-to-DVD Superman/Batman films AND in the Arkham Asylum video games), and his deep, gravelly voice work is even better for the elderly Wayne. Conroy's character is a little stoic, however, and shines brightest when playing off of other, more ostentatious characters; thankfully, he's perfectly complimented by the brilliance of Mark Hamill as the Clown Prince of Crime. Best known, of course, for his role in the Star Wars franchise, Hamill learned in the early nineties (thanks to a guest starring role as the supervillain the Trickster on the live-action Flash T.V. series) that he had a marketably demented evil laugh, and he parleyed this into a recurring gig as the Joker on the Batman animated series- and like Conroy, he's credited as the best voice artist to ever tackle the character (he's also got a stake in the Arkham Asylum games). For this movie, however, Hamill has his hands full, as he's playing essentially three characters: the original bombastic, over-the-top Joker from the present day, a Wayne-Powers executive named Jordan Price (established as a perfect red herring for the mystery of the Clown Prince's identity), and the new "Joker Beyond", who, despite being identical to the original, is more subdued and menacing than the cackling madman of the past. These three actors carry most of the movie, but they're bolstered by a stellar supporting cast: Stockard Channing plays Commissioner Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl having followed in the footsteps of her father and joined the police force in the future; Teri Garr reprises her role from the series as Mary McGinnis, Terry's very much alive mother (which officially makes Terry the first Batman who isn't an orphan); Arlene Sorkin returns for a final go-round as Harley Quinn, the Joker's obsessively-infatuated gal pal, in a flashback sequence; and the Joker's new gang in the future is loaded with familiar faces (none of which we see, of course), including Melissa Joan Hart, Henry Rollins, Michael Rosenbaum (doing his best Christopher Walken impression), and voice performing legend Frank Welker.

I might be biased because Paul Dini is one of my favorite writers, but the script for this movie is amazing. Sure, the mystery element is a little simplistic (there are only three possible suspects, one of whom is very dead, and the other obviously a red herring) and the hero's arc feels a bit shallow, but Dini manages to capture the spirit of the Batman/Joker rivalry at its absolute best. As with any good story, it's really the characters that sell this movie for me; Dini creates an epic, dramatically powerful conclusion to the war between the two in the traditional mythos (one that just feels right, like, if they were going to end the Batman books once and for all, this is how they would do it) and weaves it together with a ghost-from-the-past mystery that throws Terry, a totally different and unique Batman, against the Dark Knight's greatest enemy to see how the two characters play off of each other. This is also, if you're watching the uncut version, a shockingly dark story, filled with violence and tragedy and capturing perfectly the kind of superficially frivolous yet ultimately monstrous character that the Clown Prince of Crime is supposed to be; other than The Dark Knight, I would easily name this the greatest Joker story ever put to film (well, videotape, anyway). The animation in this movie is very good, even though the character design is as paired-down and minimalist as the T.V. shows; in a couple of big action scenes, it's obvious that the filmmakers got some higher-end anime studios involved with the animation, and the final result looks absolutely stellar (particularly the explosions, which are beautifully rendered). The art design for the backgrounds and the environment is very clearly like a cleaned-up version of Blade Runner with some proto-Star Trek futurist influences thrown in, and it looks cool- it's dark, but still techno, which is very fitting for a "Batman in the future" show. The music is also techno- well, more like techno-metal- and my only complaint about it is that they didn't include the excellent opening credits theme from the show; other than that, though, it was very appropriate and effective. But on a side note, this movie has some of the laziest, most boring opening credits I have ever seen. Seriously, I could whip the same thing out on Final Cut Pro in, like, two minutes. It's funny, in the commentary they admit that the budget ran out before they could get around to the credits- so at least they deserve points for candor...

The fact is, if I weren't so biased towards it, I wouldn't think of this as any more of a "film" than any other cartoon out there; in fact, I still don't think of it as a movie. I think of it as a comic book. To comic fans like myself, the Bruce Timm animated series...es... were just as valid as anything you'd find on a magazine rack; so much so that several characters from the animated world, like the super-popular Harley Quinn, made the jump to the print medium with the greatest of ease. Batman Beyond was a fun continuation of the Batman mythology, carrying the story into a possible future that felt authentic to the characters and the history of the Dark Knight- even if it did feel a little unrealistic sometimes (but hey, we're talking about a character who willingly trained not just one, but five kid sidekicks, most of whom weren't even in their teens when they started, so realism kinda goes out the window early on); and of all the Batman Beyond stories, Return of the Joker measures up as the character's finest hour, a must-see for fans of the show and for Batman fans in general. It may not be cinema, per se, but it's good entertainment.
Hellshocked
Hellshocked

Super Reviewer

March 13, 2010
I've never been a fan of the "Batman Beyond" costume/reimagining, but it was still a decent series. This film features a particularly sadistic joker, probably the best and definitely the most accurate on screen portrayal of the character.
EnigmaticHallucination
June 30, 2009
I was not a fan of the beyond series as I thought they were just trying to pander to a younger audience without any real respect to the mythology. Needless to say I was proven wrong when I watched this. This movie keeps faithful to the mythology while providing a great story along with it. It's great to see the old timers back and great as ever. Mark plays the second best joker even though he did it before Heath. The story is dark and twisted in a way that does the DC universe proud. The joker really outdoes himself and the back story that they provide is exactly the type of thing I hoped they would create to do justice to the universe. A must see for any comic fan or fan of the Batman stories.
jim222001us
jim222001us

Super Reviewer

August 7, 2007
The Joiker is back and old Bruce Wayne says...."that's impossible". I think that more should have been done with the Batman Beyond idea. The Batman was just ok but certainly worthy to replace the fresh Batman Beyond show.

This movie has a good story and makes a good action mystery. Mark Hamil also once again just great voice over work as the Joker.
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