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Western Animation / Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

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"Your angel of death awaits..."
The Phantasm

Mask of the Phantasm is the first movie of Batman: The Animated Series. Of the various films based on the DC Animated Universe, it is the only one to have been given a cinematic wide release. It was released to theaters on Christmas Day 1993.

As Batman continues his war on Gotham City's underworld, he discovers a new foe who wants to take that war to a whole new level: the Phantasm, a mysterious masked figure who has killed off several of Gotham's high-profile mob bosses. The Phantasm has a similar appearance to Batman and targets criminals like Batman does, which leads the police to blame The Caped Crusader for the killings. As the police try to stop him, Batman tries to clear his name—and tries to stop the Phantasm before another murder happens.

The film also follows Bruce Wayne's past and present relationship with love interest Andrea Beaumont, and shows Bruce's first attempts at vigilantism before truly becoming The Batman.

The film was followed by the direct-to-video films Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman.

Dana Delany was the voice of Andrea Beaumont. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise their roles as Batman and The Joker from Batman: The Animated Series. Stacy Keach supplies the voice of Andrea Beaumont's father Carl Beaumont, and also the Phantasm.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abandoned Area: In a flashback, Bruce and Andrea visit Gotham's World of the Future Fair. In the present, the abandoned, decaying ruins of the fair are the Joker's hideout.
  • Absurd Cutting Power: The Phantasm's blade is able to slice through a pistol.
  • Actor Allusion: Dana Delany delivers the line "He laughs!" exactly as she did in Tombstone.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: The Joker takes in the situation at the end: he's going to be killed by Batman's apparent former lover, dooming Batman to a lifetime of misery and regret, and as he watches the world burn he belts out his loudest, longest laugh ever in the face of death. To him, he won the jackpot.
  • Adaptational Explanation: The novelization adds some explanations for things that are not addressed in the movie.
    • Robin's absence is explained as Dick Grayson being away at college.
    • Batman is blamed for the Phantasm's murderous actions, since nobody who gets a clear look beyond "dark caped vigilante" lives to tell the tale. By the end of the movie, Batman and the audience have a clear picture of the Phantasm's actions, but Batman is left with no culprit and no evidence he can present in his defense. The movie doesn't address how he clears his name, but the novelisation adds a subplot about an amateur photographer who accidentally gets a clear shot of the Phantasm in action.
  • Adaptational Heroism: The Reaper (whom the Phantasm was based on) not only went after criminals, but also had zero problem murdering anyone who stood in his way or attempted to "protect" his targets, including several cops. The Phantasm on the other hand solely targets mob bosses (specifically the ones involved with her father's death).
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Conversely, Arthur Reeves is worse than his comic counterpart. While both incarnations had criminal ties, the comics Reeve was an ultimately harmless buffoon who was sabotaged by his own connectionsnote . This version caused Carl Beaumont's death by selling him out to Valestra.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Some elements of the story are loosely taken from Batman: Year Two. The flashback scene where Bruce goes after some crooks before cooking up his Batman persona is also a reference to Year One.
  • Alertness Blink: Bullock when standing behind the commissioner at the press conference.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: The Joker turned Gotham City's derelict World of the Future Fair into his own abode. Being the Joker, he also fills it with plenty of traps and puts high explosives in every one of the tunnels underneath the park (of which there are 20 miles worth).
  • Anachronic Order: There is both a storyline set in the present, and one set in the past. Characters in the present often flashback to the past for a few scenes, then return to the present, then, later on, another flashback to the past will continue that storyline.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The last shot is Batman surveying Gotham, and then the Bat Signal turns on, with him leaping into the sky.
  • Animation Bump: The film has noticeably better animation compared to the average Batman: The Animated Series episode. A few select set pieces stand out (a few of the Phantasm's smoke effects and the final explosions at the Gotham World Fair most notably).
  • And Starring: Mark Hamill is credited as "And Mark Hamill as the Joker", despite the fact he is a major character in the show and the Big Bad of the film.
  • Anti-Villain: The Phantasm murders people, but they're all really sleazy characters that nobody's exactly going to miss. Not to mention, her motives, when revealed, are also pretty sympathetic.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Andrea gives a harsh one when Batman asks if she's "still following [her] dad's orders?"
    Andrea: The way I see it, the only one in this room controlled by his parents is you.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: Andrea walks in on a young Bruce Wayne practicing Jiu-Jitsu...or what he claims is Jiu-Jitsu, at least. While Jiu-Jitsu does have strikes, it is primarily a grappling art that is normally practiced with two people, and Bruce is exclusively seen performing kicks, punches and blocks by himself, which makes it more likely that he is practicing something like Karate instead. When Andrea throws him with a move from her self-defence class, that seems closer to Jiu-Jitsu than what he is doing.
  • Artistic License – Law: The GCPD try to shoot Batman when he is in a cloud of tear gas, and he is high above them. In real life, law enforcement are not allowed to shoot at a target if they can't see them, or if they don't know if there is a potential hazard (and indeed there is, as a bullet detonates all the explosive tanks on the construction site). Though to be fair, Bullock does yell at one of the cops in question when he does so, and Gotham's cops are often bad at their jobs.
  • Ascended Extra: Not in the film itself, but in the novelization, which ties up a dangling plot thread by giving some extra scenes to a character who's only in the film for less than a minute.
  • Asian Airhead: One of the girls vying for Bruce's attention at the party at the beginning of the movie.
    Airhead: What about the "I" word?
    Bruce: "I" word?
    Airhead: "Ingagement."
  • Asshole Victim: Almost every death in the movie is that of a violent, unrepentant criminal that nobody mourns. Batman only opposes the Phantasm because, regardless of the fact that the victims deserved it, it is not any one person's place to be judge, jury, and executioner.
  • Award-Bait Song: "I Never Even Told You," sung by Tia Carrere.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Well, sort of. We get to see Bruce put on the cowl for the first time.
  • Batman Gambit: Thanks to the gangland victims, Joker knows 'Batman' is targeting members of his old gang and Valestra will almost certainly be next. So, Joker kills Valestra and stages his corpse in his own home as bait for Batman (and to confirm Bats has indeed gone bats). The trap technically works, but it's not Batman (and the Phantasm is likewise able to escape before Joker can try to kill the murderer).
  • Bat Signal: After blaming Batman for the first murder, Reeves and various cops try to summon him with the bat signal. However, he already knows they are looking to take him in, and doesn't show up. The Bat-Signal also appears at the very end, probably indicating that the cops have figured out Batman isn’t behind the murders.
  • Behind the Black: Buzz Bronski falls into a grave that's out of view of the camera because it's over the edge of a hill. However, he should have been able to see it from his point of view. Since it was night, this may be a case of Hollywood Darkness, but no one else had any trouble moving around before.
  • Beta Outfit: Bruce Wayne's first shot at an "intimidating" costume for fighting crime causes more shrugs than fear. It is only after a lot of additional trauma and brooding that he comes up with the cowl in his last flashback.
  • Big Bad: The Phantasm. Though the Joker steals the spotlight when he gets involved, turning it into a Big Bad Ensemble.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Batman showing up in the Batwing to confront the Phantasm.
    • And again when he shows up on the Batcycle at the Joker's hideout.
  • Big Damn Movie: Averted in that the scale of the threat is relatively small compared to some of the episodes of the TV series. The stakes for Batman, however, are higher in that the police are after him and the matter is much more personal than usual.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the end, Andrea disappears with the Joker in the explosions, but she leaves Bruce her locket, therefore letting him know she survived. The film doesn't exactly end on a happy note, though. JLU retroactively downgrades it to a full Downer Ending: The Joker survived and killed countless more people while Andrea eventually became a lonely, bitter killer for hire, albeit one with standards.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The Phantasm, who is Andrea Beaumont, is killing mobsters, but the mobsters all had been responsible for her father's death. And the Joker is obviously bad, but he may have done everyone a favor with Sal Valestra and Arthur Reeves.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: The Phantasm wields a bladed weapon over one hand.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Playing up his billionaire playboy image, Bruce Wayne is at a party with the black/white/Asian version (the white girl is a blonde). Then a Fiery Redhead who's a former paramour walks up and chucks a drink in his face for not returning her calls.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The TV cartoon, while being significantly more "adult" than any animated program made for American syndication before or since, still could not show any blood or show anyone being killed. This film, made as a theatrical release, had no such censorship limitations, and so we see a fair bit of blood as well as seeing the Phantasm straight-up murder people. We also see a grinning corpse used for a scare effect, the first time the DCAU Joker was allowed to explicitly kill someone onscreen.
  • Brainless Beauty: It's implied Bruce is dating these to avoid the possibility of falling in love again and getting diverted from his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Briefcase Full of Money:
    • Chuckie Sol had a case full of highs grade counterfeit cash. When trying to flee Batman (and later, the Phantasm), he took it with him.
    • Valestra brings one when appealing to the Joker to save him from the Phantasm. It doesn't work.
  • Call-Forward: In a flashback where Bruce and Andrea visit the Gotham World's Fair, he takes notice of a display of a futuristic car resembling the Batmobile.
    • A younger, then-Beat Cop Bullock gets caught up in Bruce's first night out as a vigilante. The ensuing mayhem sets the tone and stage for their interactions as a Detective and Batman in the Present Day.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Andrea did this to her father concerning his remarkably poor decision to be business partners with guys like Sal Valestra.
  • The Cameo:
    • The socialite who throws wine in Bruce's face is a recycled design from (and is possibly the same person as) his date in "Joker's Wild"; see Continuity Nod.
    • Mayor Hamilton Hill is in one of the photos kept on display by Sal Valestra.
  • Car Fu: A villainous example when Chuckie Sol tries to run over Phantasm in the opening scene. Sadly, his Car Fu isn't strong, and he ends up killing himself.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Subverted with the man on the ship at the end of the film. When he leaves the party and sees Andrea standing outside, he smirks confidently and fixes his hair before approaching her, trying to strike up a flirty conversation. However, once he sees her mournful expression and black veil over her face he looks genuinely apologetic and politely asks her if she wishes to be left alone.
  • Cast as a Mask: Stacey Keach plays the Phantasm, but Dana Delany plays the Phantasm's real identity, Andrea Beaumont. This was deliberate misdirection since Keach also plays Andrea's father.
  • Casting Gag: Arthur Reeves is voiced by Hart Bochner, who is the son of Mayor Hill's voice actor Lloyd Bochner.
  • Chair Reveal: Used when the Phantasm invades the home of Sal Valestra... and finds that the Joker got there first.
  • Character Catchphrase: The Phantasm's is "Your Angel of Death awaits."
  • Chekhov's Gun: The swarm of bats that interrupts Bruce's proposal to Andrea leads Bruce to investigate the cave where they came from, which in turn leads to him establishing the Batcave there.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The Joker during his brief fight with the Phantasm. Subverted later when the Joker bypasses a large kitchen knife to grab a salami and bludgeon the Phantasm with it.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: There was a comic book tie-in adapting the film consisting of a one-shot titled Batman: Mask of the Phantasm - The Animated Movie.
  • The Commissioner Gordon: Gordon, as usual, does not believe for a second Batman is involved in the gangster murders.
  • Composite Character:
    • The movie takes elements of the story Year Two. The Phantasm is a combination of the Reaper, a masked vigilante in that story, and Rachael, the love interest. The Reaper was Judson Caspian, Rachael's father, but in the film, the Phantasm turns out to be Andrea, Bruce's love interest.
    • In addition, the Phantasm has a few similarities with Azrael, who debuted in the comics more than a year prior to this film's release. Phantasm's mask resembles Azrael's more so than Reaper's (though keeping some of the skull motifs of the latter's mask) and interestingly the Phantasm self-describes as an "Angel of Death," a title which is also associated with Azrael.
  • Compromising Call: The Joker has paid Councilman Arthur Reeves a visit. During this time, Andrea Beaumont—the daughter of the man they're discussing—calls, and the Joker, immediately suspicious, forces Arthur to pretend that all is well. Afterwards, the Joker comments on this:
    The Joker: Now ain't that a co-inkidink! We're discussing the old man and the spawn of his loins just happens to call. Makes you wanna laugh...
  • Conspicuously Light Patch: As Batman moves through the model city, one of the buildings stands out against the skyline—the one the Joker is wearing on his head.
  • Continuity Nod: The socialite angry at Bruce for dumping her had previously appeared in the episode "Joker's Wild", wearing the same hairstyle, evening dress, High-Class Gloves, and fur wrap.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Joker, who suspects that Arthur Reeves is either in league with the Phantasm or is the Phantasm himself, happens to stop by Reeves' office to accuse him just as Andrea Beaumont calls. This alerts Joker to the fact that Andrea is in Gotham, and thus is, other than Reeves himself, the only plausible suspect of being the Phantasm. Joker immediately lampshades how unlikely this is, and how unfortunate it is for Reeves.
  • Conveniently Empty Building:
    • As soon as Batman flees the police into a construction site you know there will be Stuff Blowing Up.
    • Justified with World of the Future Fair, now a derelict wreck. The Joker has the place rigged to blow up.
  • Cool Car: In a flashback showing Bruce and Andrea at the World of the Future Fair, Bruce appears genuinely impressed by the concept of a futuristic red car, which will eventually inspire the look of his own Batmobile.
  • Cool Mask: The titular mask of the Phantasm, which resembles a skull.
  • Counterfeit Cash: Chuckie Sol, the first gangster victim of the Phantasm, intended to launder a briefcase full of the high-grade variety in his casino before his encounter with Batman (and the Phantasm).
  • Cowboy Cop: The officers who shoot at Batman when they can't see him clearly in the tear gas. This causes an explosion that destroys much of the site. Even Bullock calls them out on their recklessness.
  • Crapsack World: To no one's surprise, Gotham is a cesspool of crime. In one scene, all Bruce and Andrea do is step outside and happen upon a motorcycle gang beating down a guy in broad daylight.
  • Create Your Own Hero: An interesting variation with Sal Valestra, his Mob associates, and Batman. They obviously had no involvement in the Wayne murders — and Bruce was already embarking upon The Plan long before his chance meeting with Andrea. But by trying to reclaim the money Carl Beaumont stole from them and forcing him and his daughter to flee the country, Valestra and company unwittingly remove the last barrier that was preventing Bruce from fully committing to a future as Batman.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Andrea's transformation into the Phantasm, as Valestra's need for retribution for Carl's betrayal even after he settles his debt ensures Andrea will seek vengeance.
  • Darker and Edgier: It's a widely held consensus that this is easily the most mature of the DCAU Batman adaptations (and that's saying something!). It's only logical since the show had the same amount of finesse with handling adult issues but keeping it at a PG-rating (or at least trying to).
  • Deadly Dodging: Chuckie Sol attempts to run the Phantasm over with his car on an upper floor of a parking garage. The Phantasm dodges, and Chuckie finds himself unable to stop the car from running off the edge of the floor and sailing into the building across the street, with fatal results.
  • Deadly Remote Control Toy: The model airplanes that were once part of the Gotham World's Fair's tram ride are put to much more dangerous use by Joker. Even without one being used to send a bomb to Andrea's apartment, their propeller blades are genuinely sharp and even drew blood from Batman when one sliced through his arm.
  • Dead Man Honking: When Chuckie Sol's car goes flying off a parking garage and smashes head-on into a building, the horn is left blaring, as though a car crash several stories up wasn't attention-grabbing enough.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Alfred.
      Alfred: What rot, sir! Why, you’re the very model of sanity. Oh by the way, I pressed your tights and put away your exploding gas balls.
      Bruce: [grinning] Thank you, Alfred.
    • Joker during the scene where Valestra tries to hire him to kill Batman.
      Joker: [yawns] What do I look like, pest control?
  • Death by Looking Up: While fleeing from the Phantasm, Buzz Bronski falls into an open grave. He looks around as the Phantasm taunts him, then looks up to see a massive stone angel toppling on top of him.
  • Death Seeker: While consoling Bruce's failure to save Andrea, Alfred thinks she didn't want to be saved.Quickly subverted, though, as Bruce discovers their locket and realizes Andrea did survive.
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Bruce realizes in the climax that this was Andrea's backup plan in case anyone figured out the connection between the Beaumonts and the dead Valestra gangsters before she could complete her mission. Andrea came back to Gotham in secret before her 'official' return to kill Chuckie Sol so she could shift the blame to her father (who nobody outside of the Valestra gang knew was long dead) if necessary. Somewhat deconstructed in that Joker doesn't fall for it and actually figures out who the Phantasm really is before she comes for him... because he knows firsthand that her father is dead, having been the one who killed him.
  • Decomposite Character: The movie takes elements of the story Year Two. The Reaper was Judson Caspian, the father of Bruce's love interest. In the film, however, Andrea's father Carl Beaumont isn't the Phantasm as he is initially suspected to be; rather, Andrea herself is the Phantasm.
  • Deconstruction:
    • When Chuckie Sol's car crashes from a pretty good drop, Sol is killed on impact, especially given that his windshield was broken and he went through a concrete barrier, unlike most cartoons where car crashes occur all the time and everyone escapes uninjured.
    • In stark contrast to most cartoons, when Batman takes a blow that leaves him bleeding and disoriented, he is still suffering from it later in the movie, and he is forced to spend a night off to heal from it correctly.
  • Deducing the Secret Identity: Upon encountering Batman in the cemetery, Andrea figures out he's Bruce when she realizes he had been looking at the tombstone of his parents.
  • Demoted to Extra: Commissioner Gordon has a few lines in the first half where he argues that Batman wouldn't be killing mobsters, and after the second murder tells Arthur Reeves to direct the Batman manhunt himself, as Gordon isn't going to be part of it. He isn't seen for the rest of the movie.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: While analyzing the residue from the Phantasm's first attack, Bruce describes it as a "dense, long-chain, macromolecular polymer." note 
  • Deus ex Machina: Downplayed. It seems like this when Andrea's car shows up in the nick of time to rescue Batman from the police pursuing him. She was already in the area as the Phantasm and changed her clothes.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Reeves was so quick to launch his Batman smear campaign to score political points that he never anticipated what might happen if the Dark Knight wasn't the gangland murderer. He's visibly taken aback when Joker reveals the truth in his office.
  • The Dreaded:
    • The Joker. Even the guy who hires him wishes there was another way, and for good reason—Joker murders him off-screen.
    • The flashbacks show Bruce's epiphany that he has to become this. Batman's status as The Dreaded even gets an inadvertent level up when the gangsters start believing he's the one committing the murders that are actually being committed by the Phantasm.
    • Valestra in his glory days. Carl, a powerful businessman, would rather flee not just the city, but the country than deal with him any longer.
  • Disconnected by Death: The Joker invokes this by calling in to an apartment and then launching a bomb into the window, hoping to catch the Phantasm in the blast. Batman destroys the bomb with a batarang before it can make contact and is only shaken by the attack.
    Joker: AH HA HA HA HA HA HA! WOO HOO HOO! Hello? Hello operator? I believe my party's been disconnected! AH HA HA HA HA HA HA!
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When Reeves asked Carl for help with his political campaign, Carl refused, and Reeves sold him out to the mob in return. He justifies this by saying Sal claimed he only wanted his money back, but believing this would have either been willful denial or supreme ignorance.
  • Dramatic Irony: Reeves tries to tell the Joker that he's not in league with the Phantasm, when suddenly Andrea gives him a call. The Joker, who now realizes Andrea is the Phantasm, now has a reason to infect Reeves with his toxin.
    • Sal enlists the Joker to stop the Phantasm's murder spree. The Joker actually more or less assists her in her quest for revenge, murdering Sal and then lethally attacking Arthur, a person the Phantasm might not even be aware was a part of her father's murder.
      • Adding further irony, the only reason Sal went to the Joker is because Arthur refused to help him, since he didn't need him anymore.
    • Batman, the world's greatest detective, is on the case to find out who's murdering these gangsters. The cops, believing Batman himself is behind it, are also investigating. Who figures out the killer first? The Joker, chiefly because he knows firsthand it couldn't be Carl Beaumont.
    • When the Phantasm confronts Joker, the Joker admits his surprise that the Phantasm survived his bombing the hotel room, noting the Phantasm is "harder to kill than a cockroach on steroids". In reality, Andrea was already at the park and it was Batman who destroyed the bomb.
  • Easy Impersonation: The murders that the Phantasm commits are initially blamed on Batman even though their costumes are only superficially similar. Justified in that both vigilantes use stealth tactics that prevent anyone from getting a good look at them. Indeed, while Joker initially buys into the assumption that Batman is the killer, as soon as he gets a good look at the Phantasm he immediately realizes that Batman isn't the murderer. This was actually unintentional on the Phantasm's part—Andrea was trying to shift the blame to her dead father, not Batman.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Joker believes Batman's responsible for the murders (albeit partly out of an egoistical hope his antics have finally driven Batsy bats). When he discovers it's not Batman, he concedes the joke's on him — not that it stops him from being delighted he has somebody new to play with.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Sal Valestra hires the Joker as a hitman. The latter kills the former to use his corpse as bait for the hit.
  • Evil Laugh:
    • The Joker has several. But his final laugh - when facing down a massive explosion and the likelihood of being murdered by Andrea - is by far the most epic and chilling in the DC Animated Universe. The orchestra and chanting choir make it that much more awesome. You have to hear it to believe it. Mark Hamill said that this movie was where he truly developed the Joker voice and laugh, and it shows.
    • Aside from Joker, one of the member's of the motercycle gang Bruce fights has a very distinctive laugh.
  • Evil Old Folks: Sal Valestra, at least in the parts of the movie set in the "present."
  • Evil Overlooker: In the poster above, the Phantasm is looming above Batman menacingly.
  • Exact Words: Carl Beaumont promises Valestra that he has the money he owes. He does indeed have it...but he left out that it's not in cash. The money's all now tied up in investments and thus cannot be liquidated within the 24 hour deadline he's been given.
  • Expy:
    • The Phantasm is heavily inspired by the Reaper, a violent vigilante from Batman: Year Two.
    • Salvatore Valestra is Carl Grissom from the 1989 film, who was also Joker's former boss he ends up killing.
  • False Reassurance:
    • Pretty obvious it's false, considering the source, but during the final battle:
      The Phantasm: You're not smiling, Joker. I thought you found death amusing.
      The Joker: Oh, me? You won't hear a giggle out of me. [he presses a hidden button and his robot "wife" laughs maniacally and attacks with a kitchen knife]
    • Earlier in the film, he has another.
      The Joker: Nobody's gonna hurt my pal, Sal.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The movie has a body count, and they're all this:
    • Chuckie Sol is killed in a nasty fatal car wreck.
    • Buzz is killed when he's crushed by a massive statue dropped directly on top of him, able to see it coming but not able to do a thing about it.
    • Salvatore Valestra is killed by Joker's Joker Venom.
  • Fat Bastard: Buzz Bronski, the second of the Phantasm's victims.
  • Femme Fatale: Andrea, upon being revealed to be the Phantasm.
  • Fiery Redhead: Andrea sometimes. Also the one socialite who chews Bruce out for suddenly dumping her.
  • Film Noir: This is probably the most noir-ish example of a Batman adaptation ever. The tone is dark and foreboding. The villain is a murderous Femme Fatale. The main story involves people unable to escape the past, making bad choices because they can't free themselves from guilt.
  • Fly-at-the-Camera Ending: In this case, actually a Swing at the Camera Ending, with Batman swinging towards the screen and then a little bit to the up and left, with his cape transitioning into the Fade to Black (so technically the film's last shot is of Batman's armpit).
  • Foe Romance Subtext: When he visits Arthur Reeves to try and get answers on who killed the mob bosses, we get this little line from The Jokernote 
    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.
  • Food Slap:
    • At Bruce's party, one of his exes throws her drink in his face.
    • The Joker uses a bologna stick as a bludgeon, instead of using one of the knives on the same table.
  • Foot Popping: Andrea does this when she and Bruce have a passionate kiss after being reunited.
  • Foreshadowing: Loads of it:
    • Andrea took self-defense classes and can take Bruce on. Sharp eyes will notice during the rooftop fight that the Phantasm does the same throw on Bats that she did on Bruce.
      • This, incidentally, is also another subtle clue that Carl Beaumont physically can't be the Phantasm. In the flashbacks, Carl's already a middle-aged man (and while he seems to be in decent shape for his age, there are also no signs he's athletic or combat proficient like his daughter). Even if Carl has maintained his health and body in the decade since the Beaumonts fled Gotham, we're really expected to believe that a man now in his Sixties is performing the Phantasm's incredible feats of agility? That he can now actually evade and fight the Batman himself hand to hand and hold his own? It strains the suspension of disbelief to the breaking point, and had Bruce been on his game and not distracted by Andrea, he likely would've realized this implausibility too.
    • Andrea telling Bruce that her father "doesn't matter anymore." Bruce thinks this is because he was told Andrea's father is the Phantasm, but it is because Beaumont is already dead and Andrea herself is wearing the costume.
    • As Bruce leaves Andrea at her house, he briefly glances at the hitman standing by the door and his eyes are filled with a sense of subconscious anger and hatred only seen in the future Batman. That's because the hitman will become the Joker, Batman's greatest and most hated Arch-Enemy of his Rogues Gallery.
      • In the preceding scene before Bruce proposes, Andrea also mentions that her father has some business in Europe next week. He wants her to come along, but he's been very hush-hush about the whole thing and hasn't even said when they'd be coming back to Gotham. With the later flashbacks and reveals, the implication here on the re-watch is that Carl knew that Valestra either had discovered, or was close to discovering, his embezzling and was already preparing to flee Gotham.
    • The Joker confronting Reeves in his office hints that they know a good deal about the Beaumonts. The Joker puts the pieces together about the Phantasm's identity in this scene and later tries to kill Andrea with a booby trap phone call (it's Batman who's caught in the trap, but the Joker calling his intended target "toots" and "boopsie" suggests who the trap was really for). The reason he does not suspect Andrea's father is also foreshadowed in all of this—because Joker was the one to kill him all those years ago.
    • Batman is the one who picks up the phone, and likely realizes the Phantasm isn't Andrea's father and she is still keeping something from him.
    • Downplayed, but Reeves having gone from one of Carl Beaumont's rising attorneys to a Gotham Councilman in the last decade. Even with how lucrative a legal career can be, funding a political campaign ain't cheap. Reeves got part of the money from selling out his boss to Valestra.
      • Adding to the above foreshadowing, there's also the car scene between Arthur and Valestra when the latter tries to get his help again Batman. It shows the two men know each other well and have had past dealings. But as the earlier flashback shows, Valestra's interactions were with Beaumont himself and not his staff (and even if Valestra and Arthur had met during that time period, there's clearly more than a passing acquaintance at work here). This sets up the reveal that Arthur sold out Beaumont to Valestra in orders to fund his first political campaign.
  • Frame-Up:
    • Played with. Batman is mistaken for the Phantasm due to their similarly shadowy looks and is blamed for the Valestra murders. The reveal, however, is that Andrea was not trying to pin the blame for the murders on Batman. She was instead trying to pin the blame on her dead father as a precaution just in case somebody put together the pieces and linked the Beaumonts to the killings.
    • An interesting variation also occurs when Joker bombs Valestra's home to try and kill the Phantasm. The explosion gets Batman's attention and he deploys to find Phantasm fleeing the arson. Since Bruce has no idea Joker is involved at this point in the film, he concludes Phantasm is responsible for Valestra's murder. Then, when the GCPD sights Batman in the vicinity, Phantasm scrams and the cops (who missed the assassin) think Batman's responsible. In other words, Joker indirectly and unwittingly frames both Batman and Phantasm for Valestra's death.
  • Friendship Moment: Despite all the allegations, Gordon defends Batman in public and refuses to participate in any manhunt.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Dual examples in the spooky, unnamed mafia hitman who eventually becomes The Joker, and Andrea Beaumont, who takes a few levels in badass and becomes the Phantasm. Bruce himself could be considered a non-villainous example in that even Alfred finds his transformation into Batman absolutely terrifying.
  • Futureshadowing:
    • While at the World's Fair, Andrea wonders in the future really will be like this. Bruce's attention however is fixed on a Raygun Gothic Cool Car that looks a lot like the Batmobile.
    • Bruce's proposal to Andrea is interrupted by a swarm of bats erupting from the cave below them.
  • Genre Blindness: Carl Beaumont genuinely didn't understand that eventually repaying Valestra and his Mobsters was never going to settle all accounts between them and get them off his back. As a Gotham Mobster, Valestra could never let bygones be bygones here; an example needed to be made of Carl to ensure nobody else dared to try and steal from the Valestras again.
  • Genre Savvy: When Reeves offers Valestra police protection, Valestra argues that police protection would be useless since it's Batman they are talking about.
  • Ghostly Glide: Part of the Phantasm's whole spooky persona is the ability to seemingly glide across the ground when going for the kill on a victim.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • Things have gotten pretty desperate when you try to hire the Joker as a hitman — even if, as it turns out, that was his job for you before he went crazy. Subverted when Joker does the job for Phantasm instead.
    • During the climax, a jet pack clad Joker tells Batman if they continue to fight mid-air, both will die in the subsequent explosions. An unmoved Batman simply responds, "Whatever it takes!"
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We don't see the bodies of Chuckie, Buzz, and Andrea's father after they are killed and instead see the reactions of other characters. The expressions of Buzz's two men in particular indicates that his death was very gruesome. All we see of Mr. Beaumont's death is Andrea going inside their house and hearing her scream.
  • The Grim Reaper: The Phantasm is clearly modeled after the Reaper, complete with the catchphrase "Your angel of death awaits." Also lampshaded by the Joker: When Reeves tells Joker that Batman is killing Valestra's gang, the Joker answers, "It ain't the Bat. [...] I've seen the guy, looks more like the Ghost of Christmas Future. Nowhere near as cute as Bat-boy."
  • Groin Attack: Andrea to the Joker, no less, during the climactic fight.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Batman again, and especially so by the end of it. Andrea is also one. Two times they had chances at love: the first time their happiness was destroyed by her father, the second time by Andrea's thirst for revenge.
  • He Knows Too Much: When Joker briefly suspects that Reeves is (or hired) the Phantasm, he cites this very Trope as the potential motive for the murders. Any exposure of Reeves' past connections and dealing with Valestra, Bronski, and Sol would understandably cripple, if not destroy, his political career and ambitions. So, Joker thinks Arthur's bumping off the Valestra gang to protect his secrets.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The Phantasm. Alfred notes near the end of the movie that he's always been aware of the possibility that Bruce would go the same way.
    Alfred: Vengeance blackens the soul, Bruce. I've always feared you would become that which you fought against. You walk the edge of that abyss every night, but you haven't fallen in, and I thank heaven for that.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: The Joker's relevance to the plot and centrality to the climax does kind of come out of nowhere; he's not even introduced until about halfway through, and his connection to events is only hinted at for a while after. A case of Tropes Are Not Bad.
  • Hit Flash: In a flashback showing Bruce's early attempts at vigilantism, he carries an ordinary hammer which he uses to attempt to break a foe's windshield, producing the flash on impact.
  • Hope Spot: By the end of the Second Act, Bruce reconciles with Andrea and once the case is done, he's willing to consider giving up the mantle of Batman again to be with the woman he loves. Then Bruce discovers the sole surviving member of Valestra's syndicate is the Joker and everything starts going to hell from that point through the end of the film.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Sal is a shadow of his former self, to the point that once timid Arthur Reeves essentially tells him to go fuck himself when leaving his limo.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Batman confronts Andrea about what she knows, but she claims ignorance and wants him to leave. Before leaving, he spitefully asks her whether she's still following her dad's orders. She retorts that he's the only one in the room being controlled by his parents—she knows who he really is after seeing him near the tombstone of Bruce's parents. But as soon as he's gone, she collapses onto her bed, sobbing uncontrollably. She probably said that so Batman/Bruce wouldn't interfere, but it hurt her to say that to him.
    • Invoked later in the movie:
      Batman: But, Andi, what will vengeance solve?
      Andrea: If anyone knows the answer to that, Bruce, it's you.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Arthur Reeves had his own reason for selling out Andrea and her father to the mob.
    Arthur Reeves: I was broke! Desperate! They said all they wanted was their money back!
  • Idiot Ball:
    • The GCPD have a good look at Batman unmasked, even if it is just the back of his head, and surely someone must have been able to see his face, yet they don't manage to realize who Batman is. Similarly, when Andrea saves Bruce, the GCPD didn't think to try to pursue her in their cars, or try to set up roadblocks, since they know that Batman himself has a car.
    • Similarly, Batman parking the Batplane on a roof not too far from the explosion site, instead of putting it on autopilot, which is stated to exist in the DCAU. When the Phantasm escapes, Batman sees that the GCPD have secured the Batplane and is forced to run.
  • Impairment Shot: After the explosion at the construction site, an injured Batman suffers this while trying to crawl to safety.
  • I'm Your Biggest Fan: The Joker says this line while trying to suck the Phantasm into a Deadly Rotary Fan.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: The Phantasm appears to have super strength, super speed and smoke-related teleportation, and makes it pretty clear in a couple instances that the last one is a bona fide superpowernote . The movie never explains how the Phantasm is able to do any of this, aside from the Bat-computer's analysis that the smoke is some sort of Applied Phlebotinum (a complex molecular polymer of some sort).
    Batman: Adaptogenic, of course.
    Alfred: Of course. [rolls eyes]
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Salvatore Valestra and his gang bears some resemblances to their voice actors. Valestra is a frailer version of Abe Vigoda, Buzz is a Fat Bastard version of John P. Ryan, and Chuckie Sol looks a lot like Dick Miller.
  • Intimate Healing: When an injured Bruce reunites with Andrea after eluding captivity and being completely bandaged by Alfred, the pair sleep with each other for the night at his manor. During the aftermath of the Sexy Discretionshot, Bruce is fully healed the next morning without any trace of his bandages showing.
  • In the Hood: The Phantasm's disguise features a spooky Grim Reaper-esque cloak with a hood.
  • Ironic Echo: Buzz Bronski says that the Phantasm's previous victim, Chuckie Sol, "always was a loser." The Phantasm says the same thing about Bronski right before killing him.
  • ISO-Standard Urban Groceries: Andrea is carrying the standard paper bag for the time with French bread sticking out the top, when she comes home and gets a terrible surprise.
  • It's Personal: After learning that Joker had destroyed his life and Andrea's, Batman now sees the Clown Prince of Crime as the monster he truly is — not that he didn't already, but now, well, you know.
  • Jerkass:
    • Arthur Reeves. And that's putting it mildly. He's a Know-Nothing Know-It-All who prioritizes Batman's capture rather than the real crime plaguing Gotham based on adamantly believing he is the one responsible for the mobster deaths. Not only that, it is revealed Reeves was the one directly responsible for ruining Andrea's life by selling out her and her father to the mob, leading to her Start of Darkness.
      • This can be seen almost immediately at the party where Arthur goes out of his way to bring up Andrea to Bruce before she arrives and pretends like he barely remembers who she is, despite being on the phone with her in the previous scene.
    • Also the mob hitman who turned into the Joker. He's rude to Andrea, and throws a lit cigarette at Bruce as he's driving away.
    • Buzz's response to his old pal Chucky's death was to say he was always a loser.
  • Jerkass Ball: At one point, Batman was rather peeved at Alfred for some reason, for assuming he has any intention of getting back together with Andrea.
    Alfred: I trust that once you're done you'll be seeing her.
    Batman: You think you know everything about me, don't you?
    Alfred: I diapered your bottom, I bloody well ought to... Sir!
    Batman: [gets in the Batmobile] Well, you're wrong! [drives away]
  • Joker Immunity: Joker's fate at the end of the movie is not revealed, but his appearances in later DCAU materials show that he clearly survived. A comic-tie in reveals that Andrea hesitated since he's an Ax-Crazy Monster Clown now and not just the mobster who killed her father, and wonders if he is too insane to be held responsible for his actions. This hesitation and a lucky explosion allows the Joker to make his escape, and she doesn't bother to go after him again.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Despite the fact that Andrea left Gotham, and her and Bruce's breakup and separation is depicted with tragedy, she still committed two murders, tried to commit two more, and completely got away with it, as Batman does not seem interested in pursuing her, while Batman is only cleared in tie-in comic.
    • The motercycle gang that Bruce tries to stop out of costume manage to knock him down and escape with the valuables that they were trying to steal.
  • Karmic Death: The gangsters who ordered Carl's death are murdered by his daughter. The only exception is Sal, who gets done in by Joker, the very hitman he sent to do the job.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • "Chuckie, Chuckie... you always were a loser." Something to say to a dead friend's grave.
    • Played for Laughs when the Joker kicks the robotic dog in the World of the Future amusement park.
      Joker: (to Sal) Oh, don't mind my home security. Down, Rusty. (cue dog punt)
    • Arthur brings up Andrea to Bruce at the party and pretends to have trouble remembering her name to troll him, despite just talking to her on the phone and later pursuing a relationship with her.
    • Andrea abandons Bruce to die in the climax, which he only survives by almost pure luck.
  • Kung-Foley: Immediately following Bruce's first night trying his hand at this whole vigilante gig, we see him practicing Jujitsu in his front yard accompanied with full sound effects.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Inverted with Bruce. He was genuinely in love with Andrea before he became the womanizer he is in the modern parts of the movie. Then he and Andrea briefly get back together again...
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Arthur Reeves sold out Andrea and her father to the mob for refusing to fund his first election, thereby facilitating Andrea's father's death. As a result, the Joker initially suspects him of either being or hiring the Phantasm to get rid of loose ends and confronts him. Though the Joker quickly deduces who the Phantasm really is, he still doses Arthur with Joker toxin, leaving him hospitalized.
  • Laughing Mad: The Joker constantly laughs throughout the film, but the most notable instance of Laughing Mad is right when, shortly after being captured by the Phantasm and Batman, and certainly going to die at the former's hand, the bombs across the abandoned future fair grounds explode and start demolishing the fairgrounds, making any chances of him dying even more likely; the Joker starts breaking down into uncontrollable laughter.
  • "Leave Your Quest" Test: Take away everything to do with Batman being framed, the Phantasm trying to get revenge on the Joker, and Bruce Wayne's failure to hold on to a woman. This is the core of the film, where Batman's ready to become a masked vigilante and go down the path of darkness and angst forever (although he hasn't seen any bats yet)—but has found happiness with Andrea Beaumont, the Girl of the Week. This leads into a scene where he begs his (dead) parents to let him go.
  • Lightswitch Surprise: Batman to Andrea, who's really not that surprised as she's worked out his Secret Identity.
  • Leitmotif: Batman and the Joker's respective themes are carried over from the show (and benefit from the full orchestra). Composer Shirley Walker also created new leitmotifs for the Valestra Gang, the Bruce/Andrea romance, and the Phantasm.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: Arthur Reeves on the phone just before the Joker visits:
    (angrily) You're telling me there were four precincts on Batman's heels and he still got away??!
  • Loan Shark: This is strongly implied to have been the reason Andrea's father had to uproot both himself and her and run to Europe. Though he eventually recoups their money and pays them back, they decide that not paying them on time and running away in the first place was bad enough, and send a certain hitman to kill him in revenge.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Reeves claims he didn't know what Carl Beaumont was doing with Valestra and company's money initially. He didn't find out what had happened until after Carl and Andrea had fled the country. While Joker mockingly corroborates Arthur's defense, it's still left ambiguous if Reeves genuinely didn't know or if he was turning a blind eye.
  • Loved I Not Honor More: Bruce refuses to do this. "It's gotta be one or the other, I can't have it both ways. I can't put myself on the line if there's someone waiting for me to come home."
  • The Mafia: Carl Beaumont makes the staggeringly bad decision to launder money for the mob, and he makes the even worse decision to embezzle from them. This forces him to flee for his life with Andrea.
  • Meaningful Echo: When Andrea explains why she left town the night Bruce proposed, Carl had said, "Whatever it takes!" Later, Batman repeats the line when trying to apprehend the Joker even when at risk of getting killed in a massive explosion.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The film is largely a three-way conflict between Batman, the Phantasm, and the Joker, as demonstrated by this nifty color guide. By the time they're all gathered in the same place, though, Enemy Mine has come into effect.
  • Mob Debt: Andrea had to go on the run with her father after he made some unauthorized manipulations with the money he was laundering for the Gotham Mob.
  • The Mole: Reeves was Carl's accountant and helped organize both his escape and refinancing the money Carl owned to the mob. When he asked Carl for help with his political campaign Carl refused, and Reeves sold him out to the mob in return.
  • Monster Clown: The Joker, naturally.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • A slight version occurs when Sal Valestra tries to convince the Joker to take out Batman. Initially, The Joker pokes fun at the old man and seems uncaring about his plight the entire time until Sal grabs him by the lapels.
      Joker: [fuming mad] Don't touch me, old man! [shoves Sal, then smiles, laughs and brushes him up] I don't know where you've been!
    • Immediately following that, Joker shifts gears to assure Sal that no harm will come to him on his watch. Then we find out he's murdered the old guy and propped him up in a chair to lure the Phantasm into a trap.
      Joker: [to Sal] That's it! That's what I like to see! A nice big smile.
    • Later on, when the Phantasm shows up to get Valestra but instead finds a corpse with a camera set up by the Joker, this trope is fully reinstated:
      Joker: [on a speaker] Whoops! Looks like the joke's on me, you're not Batman at all. There's a new player in town, and soon his name will be all over town... to say nothing of his face, legs, spleen, and head! [bomb detonates]
    • When the Joker is meeting with Arthur Reeves, he goes from intimidating, to nonchalant, to full-on psychopathic in about two and a half minutes.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • During a flashback, a bat is briefly seen outside Bruce's window and flies away. However, Bruce doesn't see it, as he was preoccupied with designing his new vigilante costume. In the comics, the original reason he chose the form of a bat was because one crashed through his study window and Bruce recalled the sudden fear he had; later versions had him falling into the bat cave as a child and being startled by a swarm of bats. The movie does its own version of events as Bruce and Andrea are walking the Wayne Manor grounds at sunset and a swarm of bats emerge from a nearby crevice (also leading him to explore the cave later on).
    • Joker was partially responsible for the origin of Batman, like in the 1989 movie.
  • Never Recycle a Building: The Gotham World's Fair grounds have been sitting abandoned since when Bruce and Andrea were dating.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted in the climax of the film: "Let me go or we'll both die!" "Whatever it takes!"
  • New Old Flame: Andrea Beaumont is introduced as the one-time love of Bruce's life who has never been mentioned before. The movie does at least go to the trouble of showing the original relationship in flashback.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • Joker's gleeful monologuing after killing Valestra and setting a trap for Batman, only to discover it's really the Phantasm. If he had just hit the bomb detonator instead of being vain and talkative, he could've killed the Phantasm right then and there. Instead, he gave Phantasm just (barely) enough time to get clear of the blast radius.
    • Joker's attack on Reeves at his office. Despite Arthur's history with the Beaumonts, Bruce has no reason up to that point to suspect Reeves has any involvement in the Phantasm's murders. Having just discovered Joker was Valestra's enforcer immediately prior to the attack, however, Bruce correctly concludes that Joker thinks Arthur is involved — and Bruce wants to know why. The subsequent interrogation of Reeves at the hospital is key to cracking the case open, as Bruce learns Reeves betrayed Carl Beaumont to Valestra...and knowing how the Gotham Mob operates, it means Carl's likely dead and that also means Andrea lied to Bruce again about her father.
    • Joker bombing Andrea's apartment in the very next scene also counts. He thinks it's Andrea he's attacking and referring to the Phantasm as Boopsie and Toots confirms for Bruce that it is Andrea in the costume, not her father. The usage of the World of the Future plane as the 'flying bomber' also tells Bruce where Joker's hiding (as he damm well recognizes where it came from thanks to his and Andrea's visit in the flashbacks).
  • No Name Given: Despite the film being titled Mask of the Phantasm, the word "Phantasm" is never used and leaves the masked vigilante at the center of the plot nameless.
  • No-Sell: The Phantasm's first appearance has a mob boss shooting at the approaching vigilante almost a dozen times with the bullets not doing a thing. Exactly how the Phantasm is able to do that is never actually explained, but presumably it involves making good use of the Phantasm's Smoke Out abilities, or perhaps heavy-duty body armor.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We never get to see what the Joker did to Carl Beaumont, which just makes Andrea's scream of grief even more chilling. Especially since his is the only death in the movie that we don't even get a hint as to the cause of death.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Something the Phantasm says to Batman. Alfred agrees, to a point, but notes at the end that unlike the Phantasm, Batman does not kill (see He Who Fights Monsters above).
  • Not So Stoic:
    • Alfred, seeing Bruce in the cowl for the first time.
      Alfred: My... God!
    • Alfred also gets pissed once, when Bruce says that Alfred only thinks he knows him.
      Alfred: I diapered your bottom! I bloodly well ought to! Sir!
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Bruce gets one when examining a group photo of Sal Valestra's old gang. One of the men looks familiar. With a red pen, he draws a grin and...
      Batman: Oh, no!
    • Arthur when he realizes the Joker is in his office.
    • Reeves also gets a mild one when Joker reveals Batman isn't the killer. He was so quick to launch his smear campaign that he never anticipated Bats might actually be innocent. Even with how dire his situation is (i.e. having the Joker in his office), it's not hard to imagine Reeves as a politician can't help recalculating then and there how this affects his political fortunes (assuming he survives Joker, of course).
    • Also when the Joker insinuates that Arthur hired the Phantasm to kill the mobsters, since he wouldn't want anyone to know of his past dealings with them.
      Arthur: [backs away, nervously] Uh, wait a minute, you're not saying that I...?
      [Andrea calls his office.]
    • Once more, when Batman breaks into Arthur's hospital room to interrogate him, after he is injected with Joker toxin:
      Arthur: [while laughing uncontrollably] Oh no!
    • Then Joker when the Phantasm looms over him after his jetpack crash.
      Joker: Uh-oh.
    • This is likely the Phantasm's reaction on finding out the Joker has laid a booby trap on Sal Valestra's body (originally intended for Batman), though we can't see the accompanying facial expression behind the mask.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Played with. The opening theme for the movie is a choral version of the main theme from the animated series. However, the language isn't Latin, or even a real language. Word of God is that the lyrics were the names of some of the film's producers written backwards.
  • Origins Episode: In flashback, we see Bruce's first night out as a vigilante, the inspiration for his costume, the inspiration for the Batmobile, the discovery of the Batcave, and the first time he put on the mask. We also see Bullock as a beat cop!
  • Outfit Decoy: When cornered on the construction site, Batman tricks the police into shooting at his cape and cowl that he draped over a sawhorse that he attaches to a police helicopter.
  • Outside Ride: During his first outing as a vigilante, Bruce jumps and clings on to the back doors of a fleeing truck.
  • Outrun The Fire Ball: The Phantasm's escape from Valestra's home after Joker detonates the bomb he strapped to Valestra's corpse. Phantasm just barely manages to get clear of the blast radius in time.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The Phantasm's modus operandi, coming back to kill the mobsters who destroyed her life and threatened her father.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Chuckie Sol. In the book, it's explained that he deliberately cultivates that image because he believes it'll be taken as a sign of weakness if he ever lets anyone see him smile. The one time he ever smiles in the story is explained in the book by his belief that the Phantasm, who's the only character seeing him do it, won't live long enough to tell anybody.
  • Photo Doodle Recognition: Bruce realizes a gangster in an old picture is a pre-acid bath Joker after drawing his trademark grin on it.
  • Powerful Pick: Buzz attempts to take down the Phantasm with a pick he grabs from a wheelbarrow of tools in the cemetery. It doesn't work.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Joker: [to Sal] That's what I like to see — a nice big smile.
  • Pretty in Mink: A socialite wears a black fur wrap while describing how Bruce dumped her. The fur even adds a dramatic flourish when she throws a drink at Bruce, turns around, and storms away.
  • Private Detective: In a dark and twisted way, this is what the Joker ends up being in the movie. Hired by Sal Valestra, whom the Joker kills shortly as well, the Joker goes on the trail of the Phantasm in order to find out who's been going after the old Valestra gang, and even manages to figure out the Phantasm's identity as Andrea Beaumont before Batman does through his own thorough investigative work and his own prior experience as a member of the Valestra mob, namely being the gangster who personally killed Carl Beaumont, thus ensuring that despite Andrea's Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit attempt that the Joker would know that the Phantasm couldn't possibly be Carl.
  • Psycho for Hire: The Joker's first instance as one in the DCAU, though he screws his employer over big time.
  • Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter": An especially chilling example happens when we find out what the Joker does to Sal Valestra.
  • Rash Promise: Bruce Wayne cries at his parents' graves, begging them to forget the vow he made to avenge their deaths. The swelling of the music and Dramatic Lightning makes it clear that his oath still must be honored.
    "I know I made a promise, but I didn't see this coming. I didn't count on being happy."
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: The Joker does this while talking to Arthur, saying "Gulp! Sob!" the way the words would appear in a word balloon in a comic book.
    Joker: Someone who wouldn't mind seeing our old pals out of the way. Maybe... Gulp! Sob! too.
  • Red Herring: Carl Beaumont is the most likely candidate after the puzzle starts to unravel, and Stacy Keach voiced Carl and the voice changer embedded in the Phantasm's mask. Joker knew it couldn't be Carl because he personally killed him several years ago, and addressed the Phantasm by female pronouns when she shows up, with Andrea revealing herself to him.
  • Refusal of the Call: We see that Bruce tried to do this, but...
  • Retired Monster: Sal Valestra, once a notorious and ruthless gangster, was living a quiet retirement in a posh house. He doesn't seem particularly bothered by his loss of position, until he finds out about his former associates getting picked off, at which point he panics over having no means to protect himself.
  • Returning the Wedding Ring: When Andrea breaks up with Bruce, she does so through a "Dear John" Letter and her engagement ring left behind for him to find.
  • The Reveal:
    • The silent mob enforcer/hitman in the flashbacks is actually the Joker now.
    • Everyone thought that Carl Beaumont was the Phantasm; only in a flashback towards the end do we realize that Carl was murdered by the mob he owed money to (even though he already paid them), and the Phantasm is in fact Andrea.
  • Revenge Before Reason: The Phantasm's vendetta has become all-consuming, to the point that Andrea keeps on with it even when she knows it will cost her any chance of a happy-ever-after with Bruce. "I'm not saying it's right or even sane, but it's all I have left."
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: The Joker comes to the conclusion that Arthur Reeves made a deal with The Phantasm, selling out the members of Sal's gang to allow them to have revenge while saving his own skin in the process. Andrea calling Arthur shortly after Joker confronts him with this theory only serves to further his suspicions. While Joker was right about Andrea's role and accurately pegs the move that Arthur would've no doubt made were he in her crosshairs, Arthur was actually not in the know about Andrea's actions.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Phantasm's motivation is to make the mobsters who ruined her life and killed her father pay for what they've done.
  • Roof Hopping: The Phantasm does this when Batman swoops down in the Batplane outside Sal's house. And then when the police show up, Batman has to do this.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Just after Bruce proposes to Andrea, a huge torrent of bats comes flying out of a crack in the ground, representing the shadow of Batman in Bruce's future.
    • The World of the Future amusement park is a metaphor for Bruce's own future. When he and Andrea visit it, it's bright, shining, and hopeful. In the present day, however, the park has become decayed, rotted, and unforgiving—and haunted by the insane clown that dominates both of their lives. And the second Andrea refuses Batman's Last-Second Chance by stating that she intends to break his one rule, the place explodes into utter chaos.
    • Alfred mentions how Bruce walks the "edge of that abyss every night", referring to Bruce's potential to fall into the role of He Who Fights Monsters. As Alfred says this, the camera pans out over the nearby chasm in the Batcave, showcasing the darkness that lurks beneath them. When Alfred follows up by saying that Bruce has never fallen in, the camera cuts back to them, the danger no longer visible.
  • Running Gag: Alfred walking in on Bruce and Andrea kissing, and quickly walking out without disturbing them.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The Phantasm is Andrea Beaumont.
  • Saved by Canon: Played With. While the film does not show The Joker’s fate, the fact that this takes place in the DC Animated Universe leaves no ambiguity to his survival.
  • Scale Model Destruction: The climactic battle takes place on a scale model of Gotham in an abandoned fair.
  • Scare Chord: We get one of these about halfway through the film, although the moment was creepy enough without it.
    Phantasm: Salvatore Valestra, your Angel of Death awaits... [The Phantasm pulls the newspaper from Valestra's hands, revealing his corpse, his face contorted into a horrific rictus smile.]
  • Scream Discretion Shot: Andrea arrives home to see a hitman sauntering out of the house. The camera pans out to show her running through the door and screaming at what is presumably her father’s body.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!:
    • A twisted variation: even though Beaumont becomes wealthy enough to repay The Mafia several times over, he's still killed to make an example of welshers.
    • When Valestra offers him a briefcase full of five million dollars to finish off Batman, Joker only has seven words to say:
    Joker: (Uninterested) What do I look like, pest control?
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • Gordon after Bronski's murder. Despite mounting pressure from Reeves and Bullock, Gordon refuses to go after Batman. He has complete faith that Batman is innocent and refuses to participate in what he sees as a politically-motivated witch hunt.
    • The Phantasm later does this during the failed attempt to kill Valestra. Upon realizing Valestra's already dead and the Joker's now involved, Phantasm starts running (a wise precaution given Joker booby trapped Valestra's home and bombs it seconds later).
  • Second-Face Smoke: Sal does this to Bruce as a gesture of dominance in one of the flashbacks.
  • Secret-Keeper: Sal Valestra and the other gangsters that the Phantasm targeted are probably the only people who knew the Joker's pre-transformation identity and interacted with him regularly back in those days. It seems that they merely found it convenient to have a rapport with him, as opposed to keeping his identity secret out of any obligation.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: When Batman interrogates Andrea, she makes it clear she knows he and Bruce are the same person, which allows her to have a Big Damn Hero moment, rescuing him from the police.
  • Series Fauxnale: The movie was originally intended to be the series finale, which is why Joker seemingly dies at the end.
  • Servile Snarker: Alfred, as always.
    Alfred: What rot, sir! Why, you’re the very model of sanity. Oh by the way, I pressed your tights and put away your exploding gas balls.
    Bruce: [grinning] Thank you, Alfred.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Done twice with Bruce Wayne and Andrea Beaumont (the first time in flashback). Both times, the camera pans away to a slightly ajar doorway, in which Alfred appears, mutters a quick "Oh my," and moves away. But subverted the first time, as the camera pans to them making out on the grass. The second time, however, it is made clear exactly what went on offscreen, especially in the scene afterwards, which shows Andrea sitting on the balcony gazing at the sea, wearing nothing but Bruce's shirt. Bruce himself is seen wearing nothing but pants.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Andrea is seen wearing only a large shirt after she spends the night with Bruce.
  • The Shadow Knows: Moments before The Reveal that Andrea's father is dead, she walks up the stairs of her home carrying a bag of groceries and her shadow is that of the Phantasm.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Possibly why Harley Quinn isn't here.
    • Her voice actress, Arleen Sorkin, does still make an uncredited cameo appearance as "Ms. Bambi", the offscreen woman dancing on the piano as mentioned by Alfred. And she doesn't even attempt to do a different voice, because she still has that recognizable "Noo Yawk" accent.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Bruce taking out a motorcyclist on foot is a direct reference to AKIRA.
    • When Batman is washed down the sewer near the end of the movie, the sequence of shots is the same as Lupin being washed down an aqueduct in The Castle of Cagliostro.
    • Batman's escape from the police through a construction zone is similar to a scene with a condemned building in Batman: Year One. By Word of God, it was lifted from the similar scene in RoboCop (1987).
    • Joker tries to escape on a jet pack similar to the one James Bond used in the beginning of Thunderball.
    • The end scene is almost identical to that of the 1989 Batman: Batman standing on a rooftop, looking at the Bat-signal. It's just that both are never fully in frame at one time.
    • Alfred's line about vengeance and the abyss is very similar to Friedrich Nietzsche's quote about becoming that which you fight against.note 
    • The lyrics of the chorus singing the Batman theme are the names of the production crew backward. It's elaborated on in Ominous Latin Chanting.
    • The World's Fair is clearly inspired by the Futurama exhibit at the 1939 and 1964 World's Fair. The rotor-driven flying cars are probably from the 1930's musical Just Imagine.
    • The famous WB shield logo pops up on a ruin at the amusement park, for no reason.
  • Sleazy Politician: Councilman Arthur Reeves starts out as a typical anti-Batman crusader (who is also friends with Bruce Wayne), but it turns out he used to work for Andrea's father—helping embezzle money for organized crime (although he claims he didn't know what Beaumont was up to until afterwards). When they came demanding their cut, it was tied up in investments that couldn't be freed up within their time limit, so the Beaumonts went on the run. He eventually gave them everything he promised, but they never forgave him for not paying on their deadline. When Reeves first ran for office, he ran out of money and asked Andrea's father for a loan, only to be rejected. So Reeves sold him to the mob. He does claim that the mob told him they only wanted their money back, and in conversation with Andrea seems to honestly believe that Carl Beaumont is still alive, so possibly his biggest crime is gullibility.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The film is blisteringly cynical for a kids' superhero cartoon. The major theme is that Batman's life always takes a turn for the worst and that he is damned to sadness and loneliness.
  • Smoke Out: The Phantasm who uses it for both teleportation and immunity to projectiles, including bullets.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Flashback Sal Valvestra is frequently seen smoking, in all his mobster badassness. Fast forward to the present however, and it is easy to see the toll all that smoking took on him.
  • Smug Snake: Arthur Reeves, voiced by none other then Harry Ellis, is a slimy city councilman who's trying to stir up an anti-Batman crusade to draw voters to him and is fairly obviously using a Dogged Nice Guy veil to try to worm his way into Andrea's heart despite being the one to tip to Valestra the Beaumont's whereabouts and allowing her father's murder. While he's effective in turning the cops against the Batman, he's ultimately given his comeuppance by the Joker who stabs him with his Joker toxin, leaving Arthur’s fate ambiguous as to whether he'll survive.
  • The Sociopath: The Joker. Even his pre–acid dip incarnation who only appears briefly in flashbacks has shades of this.
  • Spanner in the Works: The Joker ends up being one to one of the Phantasm's plans. Andrea's backup plan in case anyone connected the Valestra mob murders to the Beaumont family was to frame her late father for being the Phantasm, as no one outside of the Valestra gang knew of his death. Unfortunately, the Joker was the one who killed Carl, and so when he makes the connection and finds out through his interrogation of Arthur Reeves that Andrea just so happens to be back in Gotham, he pieces together that she must be the Phantasm.
  • Spit Take: In the flashback to Bruce's first night as a vigilante, Patrolman Bullock glances out the window, sees a truck racing past with a masked man clinging to the back, takes a sip of his coffee, then spits the coffee out as his brain catches up with his eyes.
  • The Spook: This is the first time we get a glimpse of the Joker before the clown appearance, and he is still appropriately mysterious and without a name, to the point where he only speaks in the modern day. Even then, he only appears marginally less psychopathic than his current incarnation.
  • Staggered Zoom: Onto the Joker as he unpleasantly surprises Arthur by showing up in his doorway.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Bruce and Andrea. Just as he decides that she's worth giving up his plan of being Batman for, she has to leave Gotham and disappear thanks to the mob. When she resurfaces years later, they're still in love, but she has become the murderous Phantasm, hunting down her father's killers, thus placing herself in conflict with Batman.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: The Phantasm is a master of doing this, often with a Smoke Out. In the only direct confrontation between Batman and the Phantasm, the latter performs it on an open rooftop once the police helicopters come in, and Batman can't do the same and is forced into a protracted escape, especially given that Batman is the master of this trope.
  • Stellar Name: Chuckie Sol.
  • The Stoic: Alfred, being The Jeeves, is only surprised twice. Both times Bruce and Andrea are making out while he brings refreshments. However, Alfred is still stoic enough that he just gives a mild "Oh" with a brief widening of his eyes, before turning around and leaving discreetly. The only time his stoicism truly slips is when he first sees Bruce in the Batman mask - "My ... God!".
  • Suit Up of Destiny: When Batman first puts on the cowl. It is a moment so utterly awesome and epic that Alfred is shocked.
    Alfred: My God!
  • Super Window Jump: Lampshaded when the Joker tries to avert this by sending a flying bomb in through the window first.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • When Chuckie Sol's car crashes from a pretty good drop, Sol is killed on impact, especially given that his windshield was broken and he went through a concrete barrier, unlike most cartoons where car crashes occur all the time and everyone escapes uninjured.
    • In stark contrast to most cartoons, when Batman takes a blow that leaves him bleeding and disoriented, he is still suffering from it later in the movie, and he is forced to spend a night off to heal from it correctly.
    • One man against four precincts of cops, a SWAT team, and a police chopper isn’t really going to be able to evade them easily. It’s only thanks to the timely arrival of Andrea that Bruce isn’t either captured or killed.
    • Carl Beaumont's inability to pay off Valestra within the 24 hour window he's given. Many wealthy people are actually cash poor and have all their money tied up in equities and investments. Liquidating these assets cannot be done overnight and takes days and weeks to legally execute.
  • Taking You with Me:
    Joker: I'm your only chance to get out of here. Let me go or we'll both die!
    Batman: Whatever it takes!
  • Talking to the Dead: Andrea to her mother, Bruce to his parents.
    Andrea: So, tell me—with all that money and power, how come you always look like you want to jump off a cliff?
    Bruce: Why should you care?
    Andrea: I don't. Mother was asking.
  • Taught by Experience: Bruce's first foray into vigilantism has him show up in black clothes, a utility belt and a ski mask, and he just jumps down into the group of crooks and starts barking police orders. Reflecting on the event, Bruce is pleased with his skills and overall ability to handle the situation, but notices that they didn't fear him and he needs to have that advantage before a confrontation.
  • Technobabble: Batman describes Phantasm's fog as "adaptogenic." Points for using an actual word, but it usually refers to something in herbal medicine.
  • Tempting Fate: The movie opens with Chuckie Sol showing his men some counterfeit money. After explaining his plan to launder it through the casino, he asks if anyone has a problem with that. Cue Batman smashing through the window.
  • Those Two Guys: Jake and Dougan, Bronski's two bodyguards, who take him to the cemetery, wait by the car and then try to respond to his screams for help.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: When Batman first gets the blame for the gangster murders, Gordon flat out rejects the charge on the ground that the guy doesn't kill. Batman stands by his convictions when the unmasked Phantasm says he can either help kill the Joker or just get out of the way.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Chuckie Sol manages to shake the Phantasm off his car and leaves the vigilante kneeling on the ground behind his car. Rather than take this opportunity to escape, Sol decides to turn his car around and attempt to run over the Phantasm. This results in the Phantasm blinding Sol with smoke, causing Sol to lose control of his car and experience a deadly Destination Defenestration.
  • The Tooth Hurts: For a cartoon, in that when Batman decks the Joker hard, a tooth is knocked out—and remains out.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Bruce Wayne finally going from well-meaning citizen to full-blown vigilante. No matter how you slice it, it's 100% badass...
    • The Phantasm. While Andrea has taken some self-defense classes in the flashback sequences, she's still overpowered by the mob goons easily. Fast forward to when she's become the Phantasm, and she is terrifying.
    • The Joker. While he was already a hitman in the past, in the present he's a full-blown literal supervillain.
  • Torch Song: The credits song "I Never Even Told You" as sung by Tia Carrere.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Andrea leaves her locket in the Batcave, which Bruce clutches tearfully.
  • Tragic Villain: Andrea. Her need to avenge her father destroys her love for Bruce and deprives both of them of the chance of a happy life.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The Joker showing up about a third of the way into the movie was supposed to be a surprise; too bad the trailer decided to feature him.
  • The Unfought: Batman and the Phantasm only meet once before their true identities are revealed to each other, and their tussle is over almost before it begins thanks to the police.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: The identity of the Phantasm is implied when the Joker says “There’s no jumping out of the window this time, Toots!” and it isn’t until the next scene where it’s explicitly shown who the Phantasm really is.
  • Villainous Valor: Bronski briefly attempts to fight the Phantasm with an abandoned pick and doesn't scream for his bodyguard to come help him for a surprisingly long time.
  • The Voiceless:
    • That mob hitman with the pointy nose has no lines, likely to obscure the fact that he's a pre–chemical dip Joker.
    • Summer Gleeson has a recurring role on the TV series, but only appears in the beginning with no lines.
  • Wacky Sound Effect: When Joker greets Sal, he runs up and stops short with a SPROING! cartoon sound effect.
  • Walk-In Chime-In: Arthur seeths when he's told that four police precincts couldn't corral Batman:
    Arthur: Unbelievable.
    Joker: (suddenly at Reeves' door) Tsk tsk. And to think our tax dollars go to pay those jerks.
  • What's an X Like You Doing in a Y Like This?: The Joker asks a variation of this:
    The Joker So, what's an old-timer like you want with a two-timer like me?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite the police believing that Batman has become a murderer and sending SWAT teams after him, Batman never clears his name with the authorities. Though tie-in comics reveal that Batman was cleared of the murder charges, especially when Arthur's criminal past was revealed. The end of the film has Batman responding to the Bat-Signal, implying that somehow the cops discovered he didn't do it. (Sal's grinning corpse was probably a big clue, or would be if it hadn't been blown to pieces.)
    • Whether Arthur Reeves or the Joker survive through the end is never shown in the movie itself, though the latter does make several DCAU appearances following the movie. The former was eventually brought back in the DCAU comics, though he is eventually killed by Andrea after learning her and Bruce's identities.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Andrea becomes angry at her father for having to go on the run with him, forcing her to not only cancel her and Bruce's wedding, but never see him again. Breaking into tears, she asked why he got them involved with the mob. Ashamed, he tells her he's trying to give her a good life, but now swears he'll get them out of their debt.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: When Bruce analyzes the residue from the Phantasm's smoke, he gives Alfred some Technobabble about "adaptogenic macromolecules", but otherwise it's never explained how Andrea got the technology to build the Phantasm suit.
  • "You!" Exclamation: In the final flashback, Andrea does this when she sees a certain hitman in her house.
    • Arthur effects this when the Joker appears at his office door.
  • You're Insane!: Joker, of all people, says this to Batman for focusing on trying to apprehend him rather than escaping the inevitable explosion.
  • Zeerust: In a flashback, Bruce and Andrea are shown having a wonderful time visiting the Gotham World's Fair, with its lively and optimistic Raygun Gothic view of the future with standard things such as robot butlers. When the fair is revisited in the present, it is in ruins, seemingly paralleling Bruce and Andrea's future, and serves as the final battleground for the two former lovers and the Joker. Lampshaded, as a skeptical Andrea doubts that we'll see carrot-chopping robot maids in the future.

"I didn't count on being happy."


Video Example(s):


Batman: Mask of The Phantasm

The opening theme for the movie are accompanied by Ominous Chanting to the tune of Shirley Walker's memorable BTAS theme. The chorus is actually chanting the last names of production team members in Sdrawkcab speech. These members helped Shirley Walker with the final mixing of many of her tracks for the film and the animated series, but were never credited because their contributions were considered too small.

Playing the lyrics backwards, they are clearly saying:
"Tom Milano, Patti Zimmitti, Jean MacCurdy, (Unknown), Hans Zimmer, Mike McCuistion, Eric Radomski, Joel Franklin, Richard Bronskill!"

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / OminousLatinChanting

Media sources: