Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner, Abe Vigoda
Story by: Alan Burnett Screenplay by: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Martin Pasko and Michael Reaves Directed by: Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm
Bruce Wayne – “It doesn’t mean I don’t care anymore.I don’t want to let you down, honest, but... but it doesn’t hurt so bad anymore.You can understand that, can’t you?Look I can give money to the city – they can hire more cops.Let someone else take the risk, but it’s different now.”
IS THERE ANY POINT...
...in working hard if no one sees it?Let’s be honest, how often has something you’ve done been really top notch, yet no one seems to have noticed?If it’s happened to you (and it probably has) then you’re not alone, Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm (1993) feels your pain, because it found itself in a similar situation when it was released at the cinema...and no one went to see it.Ok, technically some people went to see it when it debuted in the US around Christmas ‘93, but in the grand scheme of things, it was a small minority of bums on seats and with very little fuss it quickly disappeared.It was a shame because Mask Of The Phantasm (or MOTP from here on out) wasn’t just any old story from Batman: The Animated Series, it was an integral piece of the animated Batman mythology.It was a cog, a screw, it was that last remaining straw in a game of Ker Plunk that holds everything together, only it was a Batman themed version of the game.Back then, before live-action movie Batman Begins (2005) filled in the blanks, most people knew why Bruce Wayne had become Batman, but they didn’t know how he became Batman.MOTP cleared all that up by showing the early escapades of a young Bruce Wayne and the difficult choices he made to become the Dark Knight.
Through a series of flashbacks interspersed throughout the film, audiences (well the ones that turned up) saw Bruce’s journey as he donned the cape and cowl after making a promise to his parents that he would clean up Gotham City.That promise conflicted with his chance at a normal life and as he attempted to balance all the aspects of who he was, he found that some things had to be left behind, including his romance with his fiancée Andrea Beaumont.His relationship with Andrea was his one chance to take an alternative path in life, but instead it just wasn’t meant to be and so he continued his training and became Batman, Gotham’s protector.Years later a new vigilante called the Phantasm was in Gotham and that meant that most of the heavy hitters of City’s underworld were being rubbed out faster than the silver bit on a lottery scratch card.The Phantasm’s methods were brutal and with most of Gotham only aware of Batman as their resident crime fighter, they presumed he’d gone a bit whacko and was the one responsible for killing off the mob.With Batman already on shaky ground (the film was set early into his career) he had to avoid the cops, save the gangsters and stop the Phantasm, in order to clear his name.Things got a little trickier though when the Joker arrived on the scene and it became apparent that he too had a connection to the mob and the Phantasm.
MOTP flopped at the cinema in the US (possibly because no one knew it was on) but as was often the way, those who missed it but were interested, gave it a whirl on VHS.No longer confined by the pomp and circumstance of the movie theatre, MOTP found a positive audience and it became a home video hit!Fans of the show loved that it was an interesting tale not explored in the series and critics thought that it was the best Bat-film of its time as it delved deeper into the mythology.It was a big thumbs up and not the Bat-turd that Warner’s must have presumed after seeing its box-office takings and proved that there was life in the Bat-home video market.The film had started off unsteady, but it got there in the end and it deserved to get there too!Things don’t always work out when expected, but if they’re good then it doesn’t matter when they’re discovered, they’ll keep on shining until someone pays attention.Maybe no one sees all the hard work when all the effort is being made, but eventually it will pay off, you just have to keep going.
UNMASKED: Highlights of Mask of the Phantasm
SMOKE AND MIRRORS– When the Phantasm first appeared (in order to bump off mob boss Chuckie Sol), the gangster fired his gun at the Phantasm thinking a few rounds would do the trick.They didn’t and the Phantasm escaped to leave a very perplexed Dark Knight wondering what had happened and how the Phantasm had got away!
I WAS MAID FOR YOU – The Joker proved he had an eye for the ladies when he kept robotic maid of the future Hazel around to act as his housekeeper and personal bodyguard.Not only was she good at making dinner, she also was very handy with a knife.
MASKING THE TRUTH – The mystery at the heart of Mask of the Phantasm concerned the identity of the title character.Although there weren’t many suspects it was finally revealed Andrea Beaumont was the Phantasm, which was a bit of a kick in the utility belt for Batman!
CLOAK AND DAGGER: *The Joker put in a ‘pre-clown’ appearance in Mask of The Phantasm when he worked for the mob.His real name was not revealed.
*Mask of The Phantasm was inspired by the comic-book stories Batman: Year One and Batman: Year Two.
*Classic Alfred line – “Such rot sir. Why you’re the very model of sanity.Oh by the way I’ve pressed your tights and put away your exploding gas balls.”
*The ‘operatic’ opening theme during the credits of MOTP featured the names of a number of people working behind the scenes....only their names were sung backwards.
*Wayne’s World actress Tia Carrere sang the song ‘I Never Even Told You’ for the end credits.
*Dana Delany the voice of Andrea Beaumont also voiced Lois Lane on Superman: The Animated Series.
*Whilst Bruce and Andrea were at the Gotham World’s Fair, Bruce saw an ‘automobile of the future’ which became the basis for the Batmobile.
*The Phantasm was briefly referenced in the Justice League Unlimited episode, Epilogue.