Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
I’m always soooooo tempted to say this is my favorite batman movie, it used to be such a reflexive thing? It still might be. Like… Batman Returns does a lot of things better imo, but the Animated Series Batman will kind of always feel like “my” Batman? If that makes sense? And seeing him get to inhabit something with the scope & resources of a theatrically-released feature is just so dang rewarding.
The Animated Series rules, but it’s kind of incredible seeing what it could be when scenes are given more time to breathe, mysteries are given more time to unfold, stakes are raised. On top of that this is quite possibly my favorite Batman movie score? Like they’re pretty much always great, but this one is kinda wow.
Anyway, yeah. This rules. Regardless of the fairly arbitrary distinction of whether it’s my favorite Batman movie of all time, it’s easily top two. and for better or worse, this franchise means a lot to me (or at least meant a lot to me and still has a very strong tug of nostalgia), so that’s nothing to sneeze at.
Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero
This doesn’t hold a candle to Mask of the Phantasm, but I still love it.
I love that Robin gets a chance to shine, and I love that Batgirl is in it even though she’s a damsel in distress for most of it. And I especially love that we explicitly see them dating. I’ve always been a pretty hopeless Batgirl/Robin shipper.
I especially love the hella dramatic climax on the burning oil rig. Up until then it just felt like a long and especially good episode of Batman: The Animated Series, but the escalation there really gave it the proper scope for a feature.
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
“Crazy hyena boy nearly took a bite out of me.”
One of the first things we see is a building called “Gotham Shipping,” immediately followed by the Jokerz. This version of the gang includes a lanky boy in a witch hat and jack-o-lantern shirt carrying a plastic Halloween pumpkin (Ghoul), a furry boy (Woof), and two scantily-clad girls in boots who double team and bully their opponents (Dee Dee). In other words, several people I’d ship myself with. (Sorry, you can’t show me something that gay with the word “shipping” literally in the background and not get that joke from me.)
Yes, I’m gay for most of the Joker’s henchmen in this. Shut up.
I never really got into Batman Beyond. I watched the pilot as a kid and it just didn’t grab me. But I did see this when it came out. I was way more into it than what little I had seen of the rest of the series largely thanks to the inclusion of Robin and Batgirl in the story. Robin was kinda always my favorite. Since then I made another attempt to watch the show but I think I ended up ADHDing it. I’ll have to try again at some point.
Anyway, yeah. This is pretty good! I’m really gay for most of the Joker’s extremely queer-coded gang and I like the story and action kind of a lot. Obviously the extended flashback to the Animated Series era was a big draw for me since that is very much the version of these characters I prefer, but there’s some good stuff in the present…?- future…?-day main story as well. Mostly Bruce getting over some of his bullshit, and also him telling Terry this:
“Terry, I’ve been thinking about something you once told me, and you were wrong. It’s not Batman that makes you worthwhile, it’s the other way around. Never tell yourself anything different.”
Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman
I didn’t love Batwoman’s jazz theme. It made her (and this movie) feel separate from the world of The Animated Series (well, The New Adventures at this point). And was that phone call between Bruce and Babs supposed to imply romantic tension between them? Ick.
Other than that I don’t have many complaints? It’s a pretty big step down from Mask of the Phantasm and even SubZero, but it’s still always nice to return to this world.