Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

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And you thought The Joker was scary...
"Your angel of death awaits..."
The Phantasm

Mask of the Phantasm is The Movie of Batman the Animated Series and the only DCAU feature to be released theatrically.

As Batman continues his war on Gotham City's underworld, he finds himself facing a foe who wants to take that war to a whole new level: The Phantasm, a mysterious masked figure who has been killing off Gotham's high-profile mob bosses one by one. Since The Phantasm has a similar appearance to Batman and targets criminals like Batman does, it's not long before The Caped Crusader is blamed for the killings, resulting in the police moving to arrest the vigilante.

The film also follows Bruce Wayne's past and present relationship with love interest Andrea Beaumont (who has her own ties to The Phantasm), as well as Bruce's first attempts at vigilantism before becoming The Batman.

The film was not successful at the box office upon release (due to lack of promotion), but it gained massive critical acclaim and saw much greater success on video. Until Christopher Nolan's Batman films came along, many fans considered it to be the best Batman film ever made (and some fans still do).


Tropes used in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm include:
  • Ascended Extra: Not in the film itself, but in the novelization, which ties up a dangling plot thread by giving some extra scenes to a character who's only in the film for less than a minute.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Some elements of the story are loosely taken from Batman Year Two. The flashback scene where Bruce goes after some crooks before cooking up his Batman persona is also a reference to Year One.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: The Joker turns the World Of The Future amusement park into his own abode. Being The Joker, he also fills it with plenty of traps and puts high explosives in every one of the tunnels underneath the park (of which there are 20 miles worth).
  • Anti-Villain: The Phantasm
  • Award Bait Song: "I Never Even Told You", sung by Tia Carrere.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Salvatore Valestra. It's essentially the most mob-bossiest mob boss name ever. Damn.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Well, sort of. We get to see Bruce put on the cowl for the first time.
  • Berserk Button: "Don't touch me, old man! I don't know where you've been!"
  • Big Damn Heroes: Batman showing up in the Batwing to confront The Phantasm.
    • And again when he shows up in the Batcycle at Joker's hideout.
  • Big Damn Movie: Averted in that the scale of threat is relatively small compared to some of the episodes of the TV series. The one way the stakes are higher is that some characters explicitly die.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the end, Andrea disappears with the Joker in the explosions, but she leaves Bruce her locket, therefore letting him know she survived.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Averted, particularly during the sequence where Batman is cornered by the cops at a construction site and nearly killed in an explosion, and in the climatic fight scene with the Joker, where both them end up torn and bloodied; at one point, Batman kicks the Joker in the face and knocks one of his teeth out.
  • Cast as a Mask: Stacey Keach plays The Phantasm, but not his secret identity. Deliberate misdirection since he also plays Andrea's father.
  • Chaste Hero: Averted. It is quite strongly implied that Bruce and Andrea slept together.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The Joker during his brief fight with Andrea.
  • Darker and Edgier: It's a widely held consensus that this is easily the most mature of the DCAU Batman adaptations. (And that's saying something!) It's only logical since the show had the same amount of finesse with handling adult issues but keeping it at a PG-rating, or at least trying to.
  • The Dreaded: The Joker. Even the guy who hires him wishes there was another way and for good reason- Joker murders him off-screen.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Sal Valestra hires the Joker as a hitman. The latter kills the former to use his corpse as bait for the hit.
  • Evil Laugh: Take a wild guess.
  • Expy: The Phantasm is heavily inspired by the Reaper, a violent vigilante from Batman: Year Two.
  • False Reassurance: Pretty obvious it's false, considering the source, but during the final battle:

Phantasm: You're not smiling, Joker. I thought you found death amusing.
Joker: Oh, me? You won't hear a giggle out of me. [he presses a hidden button and his robot "wife" laughs maniacally and attacks with a kitchen knife]

  • Femme Fatale: Andrea.
  • Film Noir: This is probably the most noir-ish example of a Batman adaptation ever, even by The Animated Series' standards.
  • Foot Popping
  • Foreshadowing: Loads of it.
    • Andrea telling Bruce that her father "doesn't matter anymore." Bruce thinks this is because he was told Andrea's father is the Phantasm, but it is because Beaumont is already dead and Andrea herself is wearing the costume.
    • Joker confronting Reeves in his office hints that they know a good deal about the Beaumonts. Joker puts the pieces together about the Phantasm's identity in this scene and later tries to kill Andrea with a booby trap phone call (calling his intended target "toots" and "boopsie"). The reason he does not suspect Andrea's father is also foreshadowed in all of this - because Joker was the one to kill him all those years ago.
    • Bruce's proposal to Andrea is interrupted by a swarm of bats erupting from the cave below them.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Dual examples in the spooky, unnamed Mafia Hitman who eventually becomes The Joker and Andrea, who takes a few levels in badass and becomes The Phantasm.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In classic Batman the Animated Series fashion, this film manages to get away with a number of things such as alluding to Bruce having sex with Andrea, the Joker making sexual jokes at his robot wife, etc. The list goes on and on. Awesomely.
  • Groin Attack: Andrea to the Joker, no less.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Andrea. Alfred notes that when consoling Bruce.

Alfred: Vengeance blackens the soul, Bruce. I've always feared that you would become that which you fought against. You walk the edge of that abyss every night, but you haven't fallen in and I thank heaven for that.

  • Heroes Want Redheads: Andrea Beaumont. Bruce was actually prepared to marry her. Incidentally, a socialite who he previously dated, and then calls him out for not bothering to phone her near the beginning of the film, is also a redhead.
  • Honor Before Reason: Despite mounting pressure from all sides, Gordon remains firm in his support for Batman and refuses to partake in a manhunt for him.

Gordon: He didn't do it! It's garbage, Councilman! The Batman does not kill. You want him, you get him! I'll have no part in it.

  • Hypocrite: Batman confronted Andrea what she knows, but she claimed ignorance and wants him to leave. Before leaving, he spitefully asks her whether she's still following her dad's orders. She retorts that he's the only one in the room being controlled by his parents - she knows who he really is after seeing him near the tombstone of Bruce's parents. But as soon as he's gone, she collapses onto her bed, sobbing uncontrollably. She probably said that so Batman/Bruce wouldn't interfere.
    • Later in the movie, this exchange may qualify:

Batman: But, Andy, what will vengeance solve?
Andrea: If anyone knows the answer to that, Bruce, it's you.

Andrea: They took everything from me: my father, my life, you. I'm not saying it's right, or even sane, but it's all I've got left. So, either help me or get out of the way!

    • Arthur Reeves had his own reason for selling out Andrea and her father to the mob.

Arthur Reeves: (laughing hysterically due to Joker toxin) I was broke! Desperate! They said all they wanted was their money back!

  • Jerkass: Arthur Reeves. And that's putting it mildly. See Laser-Guided Karma.
  • Joker Immunity
  • Kung Foley: Immediately following Bruce's first night trying his hand at this whole vigilante gig, we see him practicing Jujitsu in his front yard accompanied with full sound effects.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Arthur Reeves sold out Andrea and her father to the mob for refusing to fund his first election, thereby facilitating Andrea's father's death. As a result, the Joker initially suspects him of being the Phantasm (or hired him) to get rid of loose ends and confronts him. Though Joker quickly deduces that it's Andrea instead, he still doses Arthur with Joker toxin, leaving him hospitalized.
  • Laughing Mad: Joker constantly laughs throughout the film, but the most notable instance of Laughing Mad is right when, shortly after being captured by Phantasm/Andrea Beaumont and Batman, and certainly going to die at the former's hand, the bombs across the abandoned future fair grounds explode and start demolishing the fairgrounds, making any chances of him dying even more likely, the Joker starts breaking down into uncontrollable laughter.
  • Left Hanging: The Phantasm appears to have super strength, super speed, and smoke-related teleportation and makes it pretty clear in a couple instances that the last one is a bona fide superpower. The movie never explains how the Phantasm is able to do any of this.
  • Duty First, Love Second: Bruce refuses to do this. "It's gotta be one or the other, I can't have it both ways. I can't put myself on the line if there's someone waiting for me to come home."
  • Monster Clown: The Joker, who else?
  • Mood Whiplash: A slight version occurs when Sal Valestra tries to convince the Joker to take out Batman. The Joker pokes fun at the old man and seems to ignore him the entire time. Then we find out he murdered the old guy and propped him up in a chair to lure The Phantasm into a trap.

Joker: (to Sal) That's it! That's what I like to see! A nice big smile.

    • In that whole scene he goes through some.

Joker: (fuming mad) Don't touch me old man! (shoves Sal, then smiles, laughs and brushes him up) I dunno where you've been!

    • Later on, when the Phantasm shows up to get Valestra but instead finds a camera set up by the Joker, this trope is fully reinstated:

Joker: (on a speaker) Whoops! Looks like the joke's on me, you're not Batman at all. There's a new player in town and soon his name will be all over town...to say nothing of his face, legs, spleen, and head! (bomb detonates)

    • When The Joker is meeting with Arthur Reeves, he goes from intimidating, to nonchalant, to full-on psychopathic in about 2 and a half-minutes.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya You Killed My Father Prepare to Die: Yes, the movie has all three of these tropes in one. Turns out, Andrea is The Phantasm, her father was killed by The Joker when he was still just a regular mob enforcer (she'd already killed all but one of the bosses who'd ordered the hit) and she attempts to kill him.
  • Mythology Gag: During a flashback, a bat was briefly seeing outside Bruce's window and flew away. However, Bruce didn't see it.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: The end credits song by Tia Carerre.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted in the climax of the film: "Let me go or we'll both die!" "Whatever it takes!"
  • New Old Flame: Andrea Beaumont
  • Not So Different: The Phantasm thinks this of Batman and herself. Alfred agrees, to a point.

Alfred: Vengeance blackens the soul, Bruce. I've always feared that you would become that which you fought against. You walk the edge of that abyss every night, but you haven't fallen in and I thank heaven for that.

  • Oh Crap: Bruce gets one when examining a group photo of Sal Valestra's old gang. One of the men looks familiar. With a red pen, he draws a grin and...

Batman: Oh, no!

    • Arthur when he realizes Joker is in his office.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Played with. The opening theme for the movie is a choral version of the main theme from the animated series. However, the language isn't Latin, or even a real language. Word of God is that the lyrics were the names of some of the film's producers written backwards.
  • Only a Model
  • Precision F-Strike:

Batman: You think you know everything about me, don't you?
Alfred: I diapered your bottom, I bloody well ought to, sir.
Batman: Well, you're wrong!

    • There's also Alfred's despairing utterance of "My God! the first time Bruce puts on the mask.
  • Pretty in Mink: A Socialite wears a fur wrap while describing how Bruce dumped her. Probably just to add a dramatic flourish when she throws a drink at him and storms away.
  • Put the Laughter In Slaughter: An especially chilling example happens when we find out what Joker does to Sal Valestra.
  • Psycho for Hire: The Joker's first instance as one in the DCAU, though he screws his employer over big time.
  • Refusal of the Call: We see that Bruce tried to do this, but...
  • Revenge Before Reason: "I'm not saying it's right or even sane, but it's all I have left, so either help me or get out of the way!"
  • Running Gag: Alfred walking in on Bruce and Andrea kissing.
  • Samus Is a Girl
  • Scare Chord: We get one of these about halfway through the film, although the moment was creepy enough without it.

Phantasm: Salvatore Valestra, your Angel of Death awaits... *The Phantasm pulls the newspaper from Valestra's hands, revealing his corpse, his face contorted into a horrific rictus smile.*

*yawn* "What do I look like, pest control?"

    • However, this led Valestra do to something completely stupid:

Valestra: Don't be a fool! Once he gets me, how long before he gets you? You know what I'm talking about. You're hands are just as dirty as mine! Dirtier!

  • Sexy Discretion Shot: A rare one for the DCAU, but this movie got away with many mature themes.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Bruce taking out a motorcyclist on foot is a direct reference to Akira.
    • When Batman is washed down the sewer near the end of the movie, the sequence of shots is the same as Lupin being washed down an aqueduct in The Castleof Cagliostro.
    • Batman's escape from the police through a construction zone is similar to a scene with a condemned building in Batman: Year One.
    • The end scene is almost identical to that of the 1989 Batman: Batman standing on a rooftop, looking at the Bat-signal. It's just that both are never fully in frame at one time.
  • Sleazy Politician: Councilman Arthur Reeves starts out as a typical anti-Batman crusader (who is also friends with Bruce Wayne), and we later learn that he used to work for Andrea's father. When Carl and Andrea vanished with the money Carl embezzled, Arthur kept in touch with them and later sold them out to the gangsters in order to finance his first election campaign.
  • The Spook: This is the only time we get a glimpse of the Joker before the clown appearance, and he is still appropriately mysterious and without a name. Even then, he only appears marginally less psychopathic than his current incarnation.
  • Suit-Up of Destiny: When Batman first puts on the cowl. It is a moment so utterly awesome and epic that Alfred is shocked.
  • Talking to the Dead: Andrea to her mother, Bruce to his parents.

Andrea: So, tell me - with all that money and power, how come you always look like you want to jump off a cliff?
Bruce: Why should you care?
Andrea: I don't. Mother was asking.

  • Took a Level In Badass:
    • Andrea after becoming The Phantasm.
    • Bruce Wayne finally going from well-meaning citizen to full-blown vigilante. No matter how you slice it, it's 100% badass...
  • The Unfought: Batman and the Phantasm only meet once, and their tussle is over almost before it begins thanks to the police. Shame.
  • Wham! Line: Well, it's the voice more than the line itself - Although his involvement in the movie is not a secret now, The Joker's appearance out of the blue halfway through the film had this effect initially:

Joker: [walking out of the blackness] I hate that song!