Back in 1993, Batman had undergone something of a resurgence. Following two Tim Burton directed films–Batman and Batman Returns–and the first season of an animated Batman TV series, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm hit the big screen. The plot is a mix of flashbacks to Bruce Wayne becoming Batman and falling in love combined with his present struggles with the so-called Phantasm who is killing off mobsters.
According to fans, this animated feature ranks among the best in the Batman canon. I found the plot to be solid–save for the inclusion of the Joker which broke from what was a very straight and realistic tone–but it rehashed many of the tropes writers like to use with Batman. How did he become Batman? How can he be in love and still be Batman?
Interestingly there are several familiar names among the voice cast. Mark Hamill, Star Wars, provided the voice of the Joker. Dana Delaney, China Beach and Desperate Housewives, is Bruce Wayne’s love interest Andrea Beaumont. Stacy Keach, The New Mike Hammer and The Bourne Legacy, and Abe Vigoda, The Godfather and Barney Miller, both have prominent parts. Despite the star power the voice acting was at times a bit flat. Also in comparison to Akira the use of sound was simplistic and dull. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is worth seeing, but nothing astounding.