With the recent announcement that Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is getting the 4K disc treatment coming out on September 12, 2023, it’s time we revisit this iconic feature film and Batman adaptation. In this latest installment of TBU Five Things, we’re going to explore 5 of the most memorable, jaw-dropping, and infamous scenes from Mask of the Phantasm.
#1: Batman vs Joker
Our list begins at the end of Mask of the Phantasm. Never before or since have we seen Batman and Joker have such a bloody confrontation. Batman and Joker duke it out in an abandoned miniature city. Batman knocks out a tooth from Joker, and Joker sets those razor-sharp planes after Batman, which cut the Caped Crusader badly. One of my favorite things ever is when Batman catches the planes in his cape and smashes them.
The climax is Joker trying to escape on his jetpack after ensuring that the Gotham World’s Fair is ready to explode. Though Batman is able to apprehend the Joker, viewers get the sense that if Batman goes down, he is making sure the Joker goes with him. It’s tense, visceral, and comes across as a finale in the timeless struggle between Batman and Joker.
#2: Batman vs Phantasm/GCPD
This is easily one of the greatest scenes in the film. Batman gives chase to the Phantasm. During the chase, legendary Voice Actor Kevin Conroy delivers the line “This madness ends now!” It’s haunting and one of my favorite Conroy-Batman lines ever. The Batman/Phantasm fight leads into the GCPD in all-out pursuit for Batman, with Harvey Bullock leading the squad. The GCPD chase gives off Batman: Year One vibes and ends with Batman barely escaping before Andrea Beaumont, his long-lost love interest, picks him up.
#3: The Flashback Scenes
This movie gave us an origin for the Batman: The Animated Series version of Batman. In the film, we see his first night out as a vigilante and when he decides that he needs something more to strike fear into the hearts of criminals. We also see young Bruce Wayne fall in love (more on that later). Another flashback also reveals when Bruce sees the futuristic car that will ultimately inspire the Batmobile. Lastly, the amazing scene when Bruce finally puts on the cowl is nothing short of goosebumps-inducing. These flashbacks really were a brilliant move by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, and the rest of the gang to weave in a Batman origin like no other.
#4: Happy Bruce
I mentioned Bruce falling in love in the previous section. Andrea Beaumont rarely gets mentioned on any Batman love interests list, but Bruce was ready to give up the vow he made to be with her. We rarely get to see Bruce happy in any media unless he’s under mind control or something, but here it is very genuine. Bruce and Andrea had such a real connection. It all leads up to that great scene in the cemetery with Bruce begging for a sign from his parents and apologizing for being happy. It’s heartfelt, sincere, and drenched in emotional power and resonance. This moment is the only time since his parents murder when Bruce is happy. There’s an alternate universe where if Andrea’s father doesn’t get in deep with the Gotham mob that Bruce and Andrea get married, and we never get Batman.
#5: The Opening
I remember being a kid in the theater for this movie and being in awe of the opening. It was a CGI-trip through Gotham City as the opening credits rolled, but what really makes it great is the incredible Shirley Walker score. It’s powerful, and it leads right into the opening action scene of Batman fighting some mobsters. This then feeds into the first appearance of the Phantasm. Throughout all of this, Walker’s music ranges from bombastic and powerful to haunting and eerie, and it’s a trip!
When Mask of the Phantasm was being made, everyone involved was on their A-game. Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill (Joker), Dana Delany (Andrea Beaumont), Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Alan Burnett, and everyone involved worked together to craft a classic that stands the test of time some 30 years later. Like I said before this is one of the best Batman movies but also one of the best Batman stories of all time. Might be time for a rewatch.