Directed by: Eric Radomski, Bruce Timm
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, Stacy Keach
You know what was a really excellent show? The ’92-’95 Batman animated series. Holy shit, that thing was so well-written, and the first season was goddamn beautiful to boot. That show was what got me and most of my generation interested in Batman. Yeah, it was originally a spinoff of the Tim Burton movie, but it explored the character and his villains to a significantly higher degree. Hell, I still consider Kevin Conroy to be the best actor to portray Batman. You know what’s a shitty tie-in TV movie to that series? Mask of the Phantasm.
The story is half told in flashback about how Bruce Wayne made a promise to his dead parents that he would fight gangsters dressed in a black leotard, but wasn’t going to because he wanted to marry this chick. She dumped him, and he became Batman, and now years later, she’s back. It turned out her father was in deep with the mob, and she had to run away with him because he couldn’t pay his debts (and apparently marrying a multi-billionaire wouldn’t have helped). In a complete coincidence, all those mobsters who ended up killing her father start dying at the hands of a cloaked vigilante who, as the Joker so aptly puts it (the Joker is one of the mobsters, by the way. They just wanted to squeeze him in there somewhere), looks quite a bit like the Ghost of Christmas Future.
This is a pretty lame origin story. Doubly so because it’s Batman. I appreciate that they tried to make it a little more interesting than usual, but really? Bruce Wayne made this solemn vow to his dead parents to avenge them, but gets distracted by some bitchy woman and takes Alfred’s advice to ditch the whole costumed vigilante thing? If that doesn’t cheapen the whole premise, I don’t know what does. Also, I want to mention that the animation in this film was fucking shamefully bad. I know the quality of the animation in the show got worse as the series went on, but this… this is a whole other level of just plain laziness.