YMMV / Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Does the Joker know, or at least suspect, that Bruce and Batman are one and the same at the end? If so, his laugh at the end could be triumph at his realization that his actions have corrupted and driven away his archenemy's greatest love. Return of the Joker would seem to contradict this, though it's certainly possible it didn't count for him unless the info was forcibly extracted...
  • Awesome Music: And how. Shirley Walker cited her work here as one of her favorite compositions, and it's not hard to hear why.
  • Complete Monster: The Joker both pre-transformation and post-transformation. Closer to the 1989 movie's origin of the character than the Multiple-Choice Past's origin of the comics, though no less ambiguous than the latter.
  • Cult Classic: Ignored when it was first realeased into theaters, but has since gained quite a following and is now considered one of the best Batman films.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Some fans felt that the film worked better on its own and shouldn't have been in canon with the series (Joker's death, Reeves' mere presence, and the absence of both Robin and Harley Quinn being indicators that it was in its own continuity) and were only forced to accept it as canon with Andreas's cameo in the JLU episode 'Epilogue'. With the release of the now rare Shadow of the Phantasm Batman annual explaining why Andrea left Joker alive and the fate of Reeves, some have accepted it, but others see this comic as Paul Dini admitting they wrote themselves into a corner.
  • Foe Yay: When he visits Arthur Reeves to try and get answers on who killed the mob bosses, we get this little line from The Joker (what, and this surprises you?)
    Arthur Reeves: Haven't you read the papers?! It's Batman!
    The Joker: (makes a buzz noise) Wrong! It ain't the Bat! Nope, nope, nope! I've seen the guy. He looks more like the Ghost of Christmas Future. Nowhere near as cute as Bat-boy.
  • Growing the Beard: Mark Hamill said that this was the project where he truly developed the Joker voice and laugh.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The film showing how Bruce is seemingly fated to be alone looks even worse when Batman Beyond shows this really will be the case for him.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The Joker says "Why so formal?" to Sal Valestra. Replace "formal" with a synonym and you get...
    • The Joker ultimately taking over as the central antagonist by the end of the film over the Phantasm becomes more amusing in light of his tendency to do so in the Arkham games.
  • He Panned It, Now He Sucks: Gene Siskel liked the movie a lot, but his statement that he didn't like the Joker's voice drew quite a bit of ire from fans.
  • Iron Woobie: Bruce Wayne.
  • It Was His Sled: The Phantasm's true identity. It was even Spoiled by the Merchandise!
  • Jerkass Woobie: Andrea.
  • Magnificent Bastard: The Joker is in top form here, playing Phantasm and Valestra like fiddles, and immediately deducing Phantasm's true identity when he hears Andrea is in town. Add to the fact that his entire lair is a series of insanely awesome death traps and one of the classiest exits in the entirety of western animation.
  • Misaimed Fandom: The sequence with Batman confronting Andrea in her hotel room, ending with her declaring that "The only one in this room controlled by their parents is you," has become something of a moderate Memetic Mutation from the film and is typically used on Tumblr to blast Batman for the root cause of his being Batman. In context, however, it completely ignores the fact that Andrea is just like Bruce, if not worse, as she's become a killer because of the death of her father. Even she admittedly doesn't get that Batman is not about vengeance, as demonstrated at the film's end.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The grinning corpse of the murdered Sal Valestra.
      • Coupled with the Joker's demented rant at the Phantasm;
      Joker: "Looks like there's a new face in Gotham and soon his name will be all over town... to say nothing of his legs, and feet, and spleen, and head!"
      • And then there's what happens when Sal makes the mistake of grabbing the Joker and threatening him; Joker's mask of mirth melts into a twisted inhuman fury, and the background is replaced by a solid blood red. You know from that moment that Valestra's already dead.
    • The Joker infecting Arthur Reeves with his trademark toxin.
    • The Phantasm killing Bronski by dropping an angel-shaped headstone on him. They didn't even have to show it.
  • Older Than They Think: "Why so formal?"
  • Screwed by the Network: The film did not have a pre-release screening for critics, which hurt it badly, since when a production company does that, it indicates that the film is probably awful. The reviews that did come out were generally positive, but they were on a Saturday, instead of the launch day, and generally, movie reviews on a Saturday are passed over by readers.
  • Vindicated by Cable: In this case, home video. For their part, Siskel and Ebert publicly expressed their regret on their TV show that they didn't review this film for its theatrical run, considering how good they found it on its video release.

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