|Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker|
|Directed by||Curt Geda|
|Screenplay by||Paul Dini|
|Based on||DC Comics characters|
|Edited by||Joe Gall|
|Music by||Kristopher Carter|
|Distributed by||Warner Home Video|
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (also known as The Return of the Joker, Batman Beyond: The Movie or The Batman Beyond Movie in the working title) is a 2000 American direct-to-video animated superhero mystery film produced by Warner Bros. Animation and distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. It is the third film in the DC Animated Universe and is based on the animated series Batman Beyond.
Return of the Joker features the DC Comics superheroes Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) and Terry McGinnis (Will Friedle), as they try and unravel the mysterious return of the former's archenemy, the Joker (Mark Hamill). Following the Columbine High School massacre, the film received heavy edits that delayed its release until December 12, 2000. An uncut version was subsequently released on DVD in 2002, to generally positive reviews.
A new faction of the Jokerz gang - consisting of Bonk, Woof, Ghoul, Chucko and the Dee-Dee twins - attempts to steal high-tech electronic equipment, but they are intercepted by Batman (Terry McGinnis), the protégé of Bruce Wayne. The gang reports back to their leader, revealed to be the Joker, who was Bruce's nemesis and had supposedly died years ago. The Joker kills Bonk for defiance and intimidation to other members.
Later on, the Jokerz attack a press conference commemorating Bruce's return to Wayne Enterprises and the Joker reveals himself to Bruce, who insists that it cannot be him despite evidence to the contrary. After fending off the attack, Terry demands information from Bruce and Gotham City Police Department's Commissioner Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl, but neither gives him answers. Eventually, Bruce orders Terry to return the Batsuit so he can investigate and confront the Joker on his own despite limitations of age. However, the Jokerz attack Terry, nearly killing his girlfriend Dana Tan, while the Joker poisons Bruce and his Great Dane, Ace - revealing he knows Bruce was Batman and that Terry is his successor.
After Terry saves Bruce's life with an antidote, Barbara finally explains the Joker's disappearance; Four decades ago, following Dick Grayson's departure from Gotham City to Blüdhaven, the Joker and Harley Quinn kidnapped his successor Tim Drake, then Robin, inflicting three weeks of torture and brainwashing on him to learn Batman's secrets. When Batman and Batgirl found Tim, he was altered to resemble the Joker, a fight ensued - during which Tim turned on and killed the Joker, suffering a complete nervous breakdown, while Harley fell down a ravine and was presumed dead. The Joker's body was buried beneath Arkham Asylum and Tim, after he recovered, was forced into retirement, severing his ties with Bruce and left to make it on his own in life.
Terry visits Tim, who voices bitterness towards his past as Robin but denies any involvement in the Joker's return. Terry's next suspect is Jordan Pryce, a Wayne Enterprises executive who hates Bruce, but he only finds Pryce guilty of conspiring with the Jokerz to have Bruce killed. When the beam of a directed-energy weapon strikes Pryce's yacht from above, Terry rescues Pryce before turning him in to the police. In the Batcave, after realizing the Joker only destroyed the Robin costume, Terry recalls Tim's grudge against his old persona and deduces he must be involved; cross-referencing Tim's expertise as a telecommunications engineer with the Jokerz' thefts, Terry and Bruce discover the stolen equipment can create a jamming system to seize control of a laser-armed military satellite.
When Terry goes to face Tim, he triggers a trap set by the Joker, who he then follows to an abandoned candy factory after surviving further attacks from the satellite. Subduing the Jokerz with Ace's help, Terry confronts the Joker, who reveals he encoded his DNA and consciousness into a microchip built with genetic technology hidden behind Tim's ear - allowing him to survive his death by turning Tim into the Joker's replicate, who is on the verge of completely taking over Tim's body. With the satellite, the Joker plans to kill Bruce and Terry's loved ones before destroying Gotham City but, in the consequent battle, Terry uses one of the Joker's joy buzzers to destroy both the weapon and the microchip, saving the city and freeing Tim as the Joker finally meets his end.
Following the Jokerz' arrests, Barbara hides Tim's unwitting involvement to protect him with the Joker declared dead in the factory's explosion, while the Dee-Dee twins are bailed out by their grandmother - an elderly Harley Quinn, who survived her apparent death and reformed. Bruce, Tim and Barbara make amends while Tim recovers in the hospital, during which Bruce and Tim acknowledge Terry as worthy to carry the Batman mantle.
The film was initially put into production after the cancellation of Boyd Kirkland's Batman: Arkham, the intended sequel to Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero. When Bruce Timm and Glen Murakami were given the green-light to produce a Batman Beyond feature-length film, they decided to use the extra time to answer questions pertaining to the time period between Beyond and the rest of the DC Animated Universe. Will Friedle, Kevin Conroy, and Mark Hamill reprised their roles as Terry McGinnis, Bruce Wayne, and the Joker, respectively, while Dean Stockwell and Angie Harmon joined the voice cast as Barbara Gordon and Tim Drake. Arleen Sorkin returned as Harley Quinn, a role she originated in Batman: The Animated Series. The animation was outsourced to TMS Entertainment in Japan, however, Timm and his crew also used TMS as an outsourced pre-production unit, as a result, TMS also storyboarded almost half of the film in addition to doing the animation.
It is also the first Batman direct-to-video animated film to use digital ink and paint.
Return of the Joker was originally set for release on Halloween 2000, but, following the backlash against violence in children's media that resulted from the Columbine High School massacre in April 1999, the creative team was forced to make edits that delayed the film's release until December 12, 2000. The most dramatic change was the method of the Joker's death: rather than being shot and killed by Tim Drake, he is instead electrocuted after becoming tangled in water tubing.
Two years after the film's initial release, and following online petitions, Warner Home Video released an uncut and unaltered version of Return of the Joker, with more violence and some altered language, as well as the Joker's original death scene. While the 2000 release was rated PG, the uncut version was the first animated Batman film to receive a PG-13 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America.
|Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||October 17, 2000|
Released on October 17, 2000, the soundtrack to Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker contains music composed by Kristopher Carter, as well as two tracks of music featured in the direct-to-video film.
All tracks are written by Kristopher Carter.
|1.||"Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Main Title)"||Kristopher Carter||02:10|
|2.||"Industrial Heist"||Kristopher Carter||03:48|
|3.||"Meet the Joker"||Kristopher Carter||02:47|
|4.||"Joker Crashes Bruce's Party"||Kristopher Carter||01:19|
|5.||"Terry Relieved of Duty"||Kristopher Carter||01:54|
|6.||"Nightclub Fight / Terry Rescues Bruce"||Kristopher Carter||04:39|
|7.||"A Trap for Tim"||Kristopher Carter||01:26|
|8.||"Joker Family Portrait"||Kristopher Carter||02:05|
|9.||"Arkham Mayhem"||Kristopher Carter||03:31|
|10.||"Batman Defeats the Jokerz"||Kristopher Carter||01:36|
|11.||"Joker Meets His End (Again)"||Kristopher Carter||04:21|
|12.||"Healing Old Wounds"||Kristopher Carter||02:03|
|13.||"Crash (The Humble Brothers Remix)"||Mephisto Odyssey (feat. Static-X)||03:26|
|14.||"Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (End Title)"||Kenny Wayne Shepherd||03:02|
On Rotten Tomatoes, 91% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 11 reviews, with an average rating of 7.7/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "This feature length entry in the Batman Beyond mythos sends off the Mark Hamill-voiced Joker in thrilling fashion, hitting the same caped crusading peaks of the original series."
Nisha Gopalan of Entertainment Weekly praised the uncut version of the film, in particular how it "sheds light on the dark, obsessive relationship between the villain and his vigilante counterpart." Gerry Shamray of Sun Newspapers said that Return of the Joker "would have made a great live-action Batman movie." Ryan Cracknell of Apollo Guide called the film "an animated masterpiece."
Peter Canavese of Groucho Reviews called it an "energetic and unsettling Batman adventure," adding that it "provides a memorable showcase for Hamill's celebrated take on the Joker, and allows both McGinnis and Wayne to see action and face emotional challenges." Michael Stailey of DVD Verdict gave the uncut version a score of 92 out of 100, calling it "a taut, high-impact film" and "a must-buy to Bat-fans and animation lovers alike."
Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons had a mixed response when reviewing the uncut version, saying that "the script is pretty solid, the animation superb, and the voice performances all work well," but added that "the Terry character's personal scenes aren't anywhere near as engaging [as the scenes featuring the Joker or Bruce Wayne], and the investigative subplot doesn't work as well as it should." Jeremy Conrad of IGN gave the uncut version a score of nine out of 10 for the movie itself, six out of 10 each for video and audio, and eight out of 10 for extras, adding up to an overall score of seven out of 10.
|Annie Award||Best Animated Home Entertainment Production||Won|
|Directing in a Feature Production||Curt Geda||Nominated|
|Writing in a Feature Production||Paul Dini, Glen Murakami, and Bruce Timm||Nominated|
|Voice Acting in a Feature Production||Mark Hamill||Nominated|
|DVD Exclusive Award||Best Animated Character Performance||Won|