Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Eric Radomski
Bruce Timm
Produced by Alan Burnett
Michael Uslan
Benjamin Melniker
Bruce Timm
Screenplay by Alan Burnett
Martin Pasko
Paul Dini
Michael Reaves
Story by Alan Burnett
Based on Characters by
Bob Kane
Starring Kevin Conroy
Dana Delany
Hart Bochner
Stacy Keach
Abe Vigoda
Mark Hamill
Music by Shirley Walker
Editing by Al Breitenbach
Studio Warner Bros. Animation
Distributed by Warner Bros. Family Entertainment
Release date(s) December 25, 1993 (1993-12-25)
Running time 76 minutes
Language English
Budget $6 million
Box office $5,617,391

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (also known as Batman: The Animated Movie) is a 1993 animated superhero film based on the fictional DC Comics character Batman, and is a spin-off of the Emmy Award-winning Batman: The Animated Series. Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm directed the film, which stars Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker, as well as Dana Delany, Hart Bochner, Abe Vigoda, and Stacy Keach. The film's storyline introduces Andrea Beaumont, an old love interest of Bruce Wayne's, who returns to Gotham City, restarting their romance. At the same time, a mysterious killer begins systematically eliminating Gotham's crime bosses, and due to the person's dark appearance, he is mistaken for Batman. Now on the run from the police, Batman must apprehend the killer, clear his name, and deal with the romance between himself and Andrea.

Development for the film started after the success of Batman: The Animated Series on the Fox Network. Warner Bros. assigned Alan Burnett to write the story, and Burnett collaborated with writers Paul Dini, Michael Reaves, and Martin Pasko. The original idea was to release the film as direct-to-video, but the studio decided for a theatrical release, giving the filmmakers a strenuous eight-month schedule. Mask of the Phantasm was released with positive critical success, but was a box office bomb due to the decision to release the film in theaters on such short notice. The film has since found cult success through its various VHS and DVD releases.



During a conference of crime bosses held in a Gotham City skyscraper, gangster Chuckie Sol is killed by a mysterious cloaked figure shortly after Batman bursts in on the meeting. Batman is blamed for Sol's death. Councilman Arthur Reeves tells the media that Batman is a public menace, then attends a party at the mansion of billionaire Bruce Wayne, Batman's alter ego. Reeves taunts Bruce for his bad luck with women and for having allowed an old girlfriend, Andrea Beaumont, to get away.

In a flashback to Bruce's college days, Bruce meets Andrea in a cemetery while visiting his parents' grave. That night, he dons a mask and black ninja-styled outfit and foils an armored car robbery, but is discouraged that the criminals did not fear him. Around the same time, he begins a romance with Andrea. Eventually, Bruce decides to quit his plan on becoming a crime-fighter and proposes marriage to Andrea. However, Andrea mysteriously leaves Gotham with her father, Carl Beaumont, ending her engagement to Bruce in a Dear John letter. Believing that he has lost his only chance of having a normal life, Bruce finally dons the mask of Batman.

In the present, the mysterious vigilante finds and kills another gangster, Buzz Bronski. Batman discovers evidence linking Andrea's father with a number of organized crime figures. The killer later targets Salvatore Valestra, the mob boss for whom both Sol and Bronski once worked as enforcers, but instead encounters a decoy set up by the Joker, whom Valestra had consulted for help; Batman is blamed again and has a close call with the police after a brief confrontation with the killer. Rescuing Batman in her car, Andrea explains that she and her father had been hiding in Europe from the Valestra mob, to whom he owed a lot of money. Carl Beaumont eventually repaid them, but they wanted more. Batman believes that Andrea's father may be the killer, but soon gets Reeves (who now knows Batman is innocent but has also been poisoned by the Joker with Joker venom) to confess that he told the mob where Beaumont was hiding in return for campaign contributions, and that the mob ordered Beaumont's death.

The killer tracks Joker to his hideout — a miniaturized replica of Gotham City — and removes the ominous costume: The killer is Andrea, intent on avenging her father's death by killing the mobsters who targeted him. The Joker is also revealed to be the last surviving member of the Valestra mob; before his fateful first encounter with Batman, he was an unnamed hitman who personally murdered Beaumont on Valestra's orders. During the course of their struggle, Batman arrives, begging Andrea to give up her quest for revenge. She refuses, stating that the mob ruined any chance she had at happiness; she then tells Batman that he himself is driven by revenge. Andrea vanishes and Batman battles with the Joker. Moments later, Andrea reappears and seizes the Joker, bidding Batman goodbye before vanishing with the supervillain in a cloud of smoke. The model city then erupts in a series of rigged explosions, which Batman barely escapes by falling into a waterway and being swept away to safety by the current.

Back in the Batcave, a heartbroken Bruce receives consolation from Alfred, who tells him that no one could have helped Andrea. Bruce finds a locket with a picture of himself and Andrea in it in the cave. Meanwhile, Andrea stands on the deck of an ocean liner, alone. The final scene shows Batman standing on top of a building; when the Bat-Signal emerges in the distance, he swings off into the night.


Bruce discovers a locket that Andrea left for him in the Batcave.
  • Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne / Batman: A billionaire industrialist whose parents were killed by a mugger when he was eight years old. After traveling the world for several years to seek the means to fight injustice, he returns to Gotham. At night, Bruce becomes Batman, Gotham City's secret vigilante protector.
  • Mark Hamill as The Joker: Once an assassin for Valestra (and is implied to be responsible for the murder of Carl Beaumont) who later hideously transformed into his more recognizable appearance. His identity is still unknown, as he was never referred to by name. Valestra hires him to kill Batman, and is later killed by him. Hamill claims he took the opportunity of reprising his role from Batman: The Animated Series by way of creating new "laughing vocabularies".[1]
  • Dana Delany as Andrea Beaumont: A woman Bruce meets in the early years of his return to Gotham after traveling the world. The decision to propose to her in marriage leads to him abandoning his plans for becoming a vigilante. However, after she unexpectedly and mysteriously leaves, Bruce's frustration leads to his becoming Batman. The character would later return in Justice League Unlimited. Delany's voice performance in the film impressed the filmmakers, leading to her casting as Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated Series.[2]
  • Hart Bochner as City Councilman Arthur Reeves: A corrupt city official who was once an intern for Carl Beaumont. He later becomes involved with Valestra's gang in order to gain the influence to enter City Council, and told them where his former boss was hiding in return for campaign funds. Years later, the Joker tracks him down and poisons him with Joker venom. He last appears in the Gotham City Mental Hospital, having been driven insane by the Joker's chemicals.
  • Stacy Keach as Carl Beaumont and The Phantasm: Andrea's father, who made deals with the Valestra gang. He goes in debt to Valestra and flees to Europe with Andrea, but is later murdered. Keach also provided the voice for the Phantasm.
  • Abe Vigoda as Salvatore Valestra: A powerful crime boss who goes into business with Carl Beaumont, and threatens to kill him for embezzling money. Once Andrea returns, he is an old, decrepit man, dependant on an oxygen tank to live due to excessive smoking. He hires the Joker to kill Batman, but ends up killed by his Joker Venom (Joker says that he wanted him to have "A nice big smile"). His body also perished in an explosion set up by Joker in an attempt to destroy whoever was the murderer: in this case, the Phantasm.
  • Dick Miller as Charles "Chuckie" Sol: A crime boss and The Phantasm's first victim.
  • John P. Ryan as Buzz Bronski: A crime boss who seemed to have had a brief partnership with Chuckie Sol. He is later killed by The Phantasm at the graveyard while visiting Sol's grave.
  • Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. as Alfred Pennyworth: Once the trusted butler to Bruce Wayne's parents, he continues his loyal service to their son after their deaths. He is Bruce's closest confidante.
  • Bob Hastings as Commissioner James Gordon: The police commissioner of Gotham City and Batman's closest ally. He refuses to capture Batman, believing the Dark Knight is not responsible for any of the murders.
  • Robert Costanzo as Detective Harvey Bullock: A police detective with the Gotham City Police Department who distrusts Batman.


Impressed by the success of the first season of Batman: The Animated Series, Warner Bros. assigned Alan Burnett to write a story for a full-length animated film. Although the Joker does play a pivotal role in the film, it was Burnett's intention to tell a story far removed from the television show's regular rogues gallery. Burnett also cited he "wanted to do a love story with Bruce because no one had really done it on the TV show. I wanted a story that got into his head."[3] The writers were highly cautious of placing the Joker in the film as they did not want any connection to Tim Burton's Batman (1989), but writer Michael Reaves said, "We then realized that we could make his appearance serve the story in a way that we never could in live-action."[4] Aiding Burnett in writing the script were: Martin Pasko, who handled most of the flashback segments; Michael Reaves, who wrote the climax; and Paul Dini, who claims he "filled in holes here and there."[3] Citizen Kane (1941) served as an influence for the flashbacks, a story about loss and the passage of time.[5]

“It was basically an expanded episode. We boarded the script and did all of our designs and shipped it overseas. We were treating it with more quality, but we originally didn’t intend it for the big screen.”

—Eric Radomski on Warner Brothers' decision to release the film theatrically[6]

Early in production, Warner Brothers decided to release Phantasm with a theatrical release, rather than straight to video. That left less than a year for production time (most animated features take well over two years from finished story to final release). Due to this decision, the animators went over the scenes once more in order to accommodate widescreen theatrical aspect ratio.[7] The studio did cooperate well, granting the filmmakers a large amount of creative control.[8]

In addition to the creative control, the studio increased the production budget to $6 million,[6] which gave the filmmakers opportunities for more elaborate set pieces. The opening title sequence featured a flight through an entirely computer-generated Gotham City.[3] As a visual joke, sequence director Kevin Altieri set the climax of the film inside a miniature automated model of Gotham City, where Batman and the Joker were giants. This was a homage to a mainstay of Batman comic books of the Dick Sprang era, often featuring the hero fighting against a backdrop of gigantic props.[7] From start to finish, the film was completed within eight months.[6] Composer Shirley Walker cited the score of Mask of the Phantasm as a favorite among her own compositions.[9]


Bruce about to don the mask of Batman for the first time. This was calculated by writer Michael Reaves to be a standing point in the film.

Paul Dini intended each of the flashbacks into Batman's love life to "have a tendency to get worse, when you hope things will get better." Bruce's relationship with Andrea, which at first shows promise, eventually turns into turmoil.[10] At first, Bruce and Andrea are set for marriage, but then Bruce is given a farewell note from Andrea cutting off their relationship. This eventually leads into Bruce's decision to become Batman.[10] Richard Corliss of Time felt this scene paralleled Andrea's decision to avenge her own parents and reject love, when she finds her own father Carl dead by the hands of an assassin. Both events transform the two people (Bruce becomes Batman, Andrea becomes The Phantasm).[11]

One scene depicts Bruce Wayne at his parents' tombstone saying "I didn't count on being happy." According to writer Michael Reaves, this scene was to be a pivotal moment in Bruce's tragic life, as he is denied the opportunity to live a normal life.[4] Reaves also stated: "When Bruce puts on the mask for the first time, [after Andrea Beaumont breaks their engagement], and Alfred says 'My God!' he's reacting in horror, because he's watching this man he's helped raise from childhood, this man who has let the desire for vengeance and retribution consume his life, at last embrace the unspeakable."[4]


Batman: Mask of the Phantasm - The Animated Movie
Film score by Shirley Walker
Released December 14, 1993
March 31, 2009
Label Warner Bros / Wea
La-La Land Records
Professional reviews

The reviews parameter has been deprecated. Please move reviews into the “Reception” section of the article. See Moving reviews into article space.

The soundtrack score to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was originally released on December 14, 1993 under the label of Reprise Records.

  1. "Main Title" (1:35)
  2. "The Promise" (0:46)
  3. "Ski Mask Vigilante" (3:06)
  4. "Phantasm's Graveyard Murder" (3:43)
  5. "First Love" (1:35)
  6. "The Big Chase" (5:32)
  7. "A Plea for Help" (1:55)
  8. "The Birth of Batman" (4:17)
  9. "Phantasm and Joker Fight" (4:05)
  10. "Batman's Destiny" (3:50)
  11. "I Never Even Told You" - Performed by Tia Carrere (4:20)

Remastered version:

On March 31, 2009, La-La Land Records released a limited edition remastered version of Shirley Walker's soundtrack score through their "Expanded Archival Collection". The new release included bonus tracks that extended the score 27 minutes longer than the original release.

  1. "Main Title: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" (Expanded) (5:01)
  2. "The Promise" (Expanded) (1:25)
  3. "Ski Mask Vigilante" (Expanded) (4:28)
  4. "Fancy Footwork" (0:40)*
  5. "Phantasm's Graveyard Murder" (3:52)
  6. "Bad News* / Set Trap* / May They Rest in Peace*" (1:51)
  7. "First Love" (1:59)
  8. "City Street Drive* / Sal Velestra* / Good Samaritan*" (2:16)
  9. "Birth of Batman" (Expanded) (6:01)
  10. "The Joker's Big Entrance"* (3:02)
  11. "The Big Chase" (5:40)
  12. "Nowhere to Run"* (2:01)
  13. "A Plea for Help" (1:01)
  14. "A Tall Man / Arturo and his Pal* /Makes You Want to Laugh* / What's So Funny?*" (4:04)
  15. "Andrea Remembers* / True Identity*" (3:18)
  16. "Phantasm and Joker Fight" (6:01)
  17. "Batman's Destiny" (1:46)
  18. "I Never Even Told You" (4:23) - Performed by Tia Carrere
  19. "Theme from Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" (2:06) (Bonus Track)
  20. "Welcome to the Future!"* (1:01) (Bonus Track)


Critical response

Based on 23 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm received an average 87% overall approval rating with the consensus stating, "Stylish and admirably respectful of the source material, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm succeeds where many of the live-action Batman adaptations have failed."[12]

Empire cited it as the best animated film of 1993, and felt it contained better storylines than Tim Burton's Batman and Batman Returns.[13] TV Guide was impressed with the art deco noir design that was presented. In addition the film's climax and Batman's close call with the Gotham City Police Department were considered to be elaborate action sequences.[14] Richard Harrington of The Washington Post agreed with overall aspects that included the animation, design, dialogue. and storyline, as well as Shirley Walker's film score.[15] Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert regretted not having viewed the film in its theatrical release. They did give a positive reaction, with Siskel feeling that Phantasm was better than Batman Returns and Batman Forever, and only slightly below Batman.[16]

Stephen Holden of The New York Times thought the voice performances were "flat and one-dimensional".[17] Chris Hicks of the Deseret News felt "the picture didn't come alive until the third act" feeling that the animators sacrificed the visuals for the storyline. In addition, he felt Mark Hamill "stole the show."[18] Leonard Klady of Variety had mixed reactions towards the film, but was overly negative. He felt the overall themes and morals were clichéd and cited the animation to be to the "point of self-parody".[19]

Box office

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm opened on Christmas Day 1993 in the United States in 1,506 theaters, accumulating $1,189,975 over its opening weekend. The film went on to gross $5,617,391 in the domestic total box office intake.[20] The filmmakers blamed Warner Bros. for the unsuccessful marketing campaign. Mask of the Phantasm did eventually pass its $6 million budget with its various home video releases.[7]


Alongside The Lion King and The Nightmare Before Christmas, Mask of the Phantasm was nominated for an Annie Award in the category of Best Animated Feature, but lost out to The Lion King.[21] IGN ranked Mask of the Phantasm as the twenty-fifth favorite animated film of all time in a list published in 2010.


In December 1993, two novelizations were released. One was written by Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, and Andrew Helfer[22] with the other authored by Geary Gravel.[23] DC Comics released a comic book adaption written by Kelley Puckett and drawings by Mike Parobeck.[24]

Home video

The film was released on VHS in May 1994[25] and again in April 2003, though this time, part of a three tape pack with Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero and Batman Beyond: The Movie.[26] Mask of the Phantasm was first released on DVD in December 1999 as a snap case[27] and in October 2005 as a keep case with the insert.[28] The film was released in April 2004 as a three disc DVD box set that included SubZero and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, but it is currently out of stock.[29] Warner Home Video released the film once more in February 2008, but as a double feature DVD with SubZero.[30]


  1. ^ Jacquie Kubin (April 1997). "An Interview With Mark Hamill". Animation World Magazine. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  2. ^ Barry Freiman (2005-06-14). "Exclusive Interview with Dana Delany". Superman Homepage. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  3. ^ a b c Paul Dini; Chip Kidd (1998). Batman Animated. Titan Books. p. 114. ISBN 1-84023-016-9. 
  4. ^ a b c Joe Tracy. "Interview with Michael Reaves". Animation Artist. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  5. ^ Les Daniels (2000). Batman: The Complete History. Chronicle Books. p. 184. ISBN 0-8118-2470-5. 
  6. ^ a b c Bob Miller (June 1994). "Knight Vision". Comics Scene. 
  7. ^ a b c Dini, Kidd, p.117
  8. ^ Emru Townsend (1999-05-17). "Paul Dini: From Babs and Buster Bunny to Batman". Purple Planet Media. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  9. ^ Randall Larson (2006-12-07). "Remembering Shirley Walker". Mania Music. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  10. ^ a b Richard Verrier (1996-09-14). "More That Meets the Eye: Producer-Writer of Batman Gives All". Los Angeles Times. 
  11. ^ Richard Corliss (April 1994). "Corliss' Roundups of Latest VHS Releases". Time. 
  12. ^ "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  13. ^ "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm". Empire. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  14. ^ "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  15. ^ Harrington, Richard (1993-12-27). "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  16. ^ Roger Ebert; Gene Siskel (1995-06-12). "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm". Siskel & Ebert. Retrieved 2008-04-22. [dead link]
  17. ^ Holden, Stephen (1993-12-25). "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  18. ^ Hicks, Chris (1994-01-06). "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm". Deseret News.,1257,144,00.html. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  19. ^ Klady, Leonard (1993-12-27). "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm". Variety. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  20. ^ "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  21. ^ "Annie Awards: 1994". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  22. ^ "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm - The Animated Movie, A Novelization". Amazon. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  23. ^ "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (Mass Market Paperback)". Amazon. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  24. ^ "Mask of the Phantasm: Batman : the Animated Movie (Comic)". Amazon. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  25. ^ "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)". Amazon. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  26. ^ "Batman Animated Collection (Sub Zero/Batman Beyond - The Movie/Mask of the Phantasm) (1998)". Amazon. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  27. ^ "Batman - Mask of the Phantasm (1993)". Amazon. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  28. ^ "Batman - Mask of the Phantasm (Keepcase) (1993)". Amazon. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  29. ^ "Batman Collection DVD 3-Pack (Mask of the Phantasm / SubZero / Return of the Joker) (1998)". Amazon. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  30. ^ "Batman & Mr. Freeze - SubZero / Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (Double Feature)". Amazon. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 

Further reading

  • Bruce Timm; Erick Nolen-Weathington (June 2004) (Paperback). Modern Masters Volume 3: Bruce Timm. A detailed analysis on the works of Bruce Timm, the director of this film. TwoMorrows Publishing. ISBN 1893905306. 
  • Alan Burnett; Paul Dini; Andrew Helfer (1 December 1993) (Paperback). Batman: Mask of the Phantasm - The Animated Movie, A Novelization. Novelization of the film. Skylark. ISBN 0553481746. 
  • Geary Gravel (1 December 1993) (Mass Market Paperback). Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Novelization of the film. Bantam Books. ISBN 0553565818. 
  • Kelley Puckett; Mike Parobeck (illustrator) (December 1993) (Paperback). Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Comic book adaptation of the film. DC Comics. ISBN 1563891220. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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