Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

Batman & the Reaper
Batman & the Reaper

Let’s mix things up a bit. I’m tired of reviewing The Mummy adjacent movies (Casper Van Dien and porn will do that to a person). And some personal information, I’ve been passing the time painting miniatures while I look out the window and watch society collapse. There’s a board game called Batman: Gotham City Chronicles that has a truly ridiculous amount of plastic figures, and painting them up keeps me away from a life of crime. And while I’ve been painting these heroes and villains, I’ve been reading a lot of Batman comics. So let’s talk about some Batman movies, and let me show off some of the models I’ve finished that are related to the review at hand. In today’s post, very tangentially related.

Mask of the Phantasm is the best animated Batman movie, hands down. Batman: Under the Red Hood is dear to me, but it’s not the same. And it had to be such a risk at the time: a movie based off of a kids’ cartoon, using an original villain? None of the live action Batman films have done that, let alone delve into the psychology of Bruce Wayne like this movie did. But noting is created in a vacuum, and with decades of Batman stories, links to existing comic book storylines are there. If you know where to look…

Any media featuring Bruce Wayne before putting on the costume usually references Batman: Year One (Batman #404-407, 1987), but a skull-masked anti-hero with a metal weapon attached to their hand that kills bad guys? A love early in Batman’s career that has Bruce actually propose? Those are elements from the lesser known sequel, Batman: Year Two (Detective Comics #575-578, 1987). All the same year Watchmen wrapped up. Busy year. Anyway, obviously there are differences: the movie has the Phantasm (who I’m pretty sure no one actually refers to by that name) while the comic used the obscure character Reaper (who never shuts up with lines like, “Fear… the Reaper!”). In the comic we know that the Reaper is the love interest’s father before he puts the costume on, while the Phantasm actually is Andrea Beaumont, and it’s a huge twist. There’s also other stuff, like in Year Two, Batman started using a gun and had to work with Joe Chill (the guy who murdered his parents), while Joker’s appearance was unique to Mask of the Phantasm. “An original script based on ideas from,” more or less.

Speaking of the Joker, what happened to him at the end? The Phantasm was hellbent on murdering everyone associated with her dad’s death, she disappears with the Joker in her grasp, and next we see she’s sad on a boat, alone. Did… did she murder the Joker off screen? Mark Hamill didn’t think so, but that’s just the nature of deaths in comic book media.

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One thought on “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

  1. Pingback: Batman Returns (1992) | Chwineka Watches

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