REVIEW: BATMAN: HUSH

Starring

Jason O’Mara (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Jennifer Morrison (Once Upon A Time)
Jerry O’Connell (Veronica Mars)
Rebecca Romijn (X-Men)
Maury Sterling (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Rainn Wilson (Star Trek: Discovery)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty)
Peyton List (Remember Me)
Bruce Thomas (Army of Darkness)
Stuart Allan (Rise of The Guardians)
James Garrett (Titanic)
Geoffrey Arend (Body of Proof)
Jason Spisak (Batman: Bad Blood)
Peyton List (Gotham)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes To Rome)

Batman: Hush (2019)Bruce Wayne is attending an evening party where he meets Selina Kyle and his childhood friend and renowned brain surgeon Thomas Elliot, until he receives an alert from Alfred about a child kidnapping from Bane. After a brief fight, Batman is confronted by Lady Shiva who tells him an unknown intruder has used the Lazarus Pit and asks for his assistance in identifying them. Batman rescues the child, but Catwoman steals the ransom money. As Batman swings through Gotham City in pursuit of her, a mysterious villain shoots his grapple line and he falls to the ground, fracturing his skull. He is nearly killed by a group of nearby criminals until he is saved by Catwoman and Batgirl. Catwoman delivers the ransom money to Poison Ivy, who is controlling her through a hypnotic kiss.Batman: Hush (2019)Alfred summons Thomas Elliot to remove skull fragments from Bruce’s brain. Batman recovers and pays a trip to Blackgate Penitentiary to interrogate Bane on the whereabouts of the money. Bane eventually escapes and Batman strikes a deal with Amanda Waller, who allows Bane’s escape so Batman can track him. Bane leads Batman to Poison Ivy’s now abandoned greenhouse where Catwoman is. Waller captures Bane and returns him to Blackgate Penitentiary.Batman: Hush (2019)Seeking retaliation for Ivy’s manipulation, Catwoman offers information on her whereabouts to Batman in exchange for a kiss and a tenuous romance blooms between them. Batman and Catwoman follow Poison Ivy to Metropolis. Batman finds Lex Luthor, now a probationary member of the Justice League, and asks for information on a delivery list of an ethylene compound to track down Ivy’s location. There they find Ivy has taken control of Superman and she commands the Man of Steel to kill Batman and Catwoman. Batman observes that Superman is subconsciously resisting Ivy’s influence, holding back on his attempts to kill both of them. Using knuckledusters made from Kryptonite, Batman stalls Superman while Catwoman lets Lois Lane fall from the Daily Planet building. Superman breaks free of Ivy’s control to save Lois. Batman, Superman, and Catwoman work together to capture Ivy, who reveals that she was being manipulated by a mysterious foe called Hush.Batman: Hush (2019)Bruce Wayne goes on a date with Selina, who is unaware of the former’s identity as Batman, much to the encouragement of his family. The two, along with Thomas Elliot, attend an opera when Harley Quinn arrives and attempts to kill Bruce. In the ensuing struggle, Dr. Elliot is apparently shot dead by Joker. An enraged Batman violently beats Joker who claims that he is innocent, and he is stopped short of killing him by Commissioner James Gordon. Bruce attends Elliot’s funeral and deduces Joker’s innocence as well that Hush must know his secret identity. After foiling a robbery by Riddler, Batman chases after Hush but fails to catch him. Afraid for her safety, Batman asks Selina to leave Gotham so she doesn’t fall victim to Hush, who vowed to murder everyone close to him. He eventually decides to trust Catwoman and reveals his identity to her, and the two become a romantic crime-fighting couple.Batman: Hush (2019)Later, Batman investigates the office of Thomas Elliot and discovers one of his patients was someone called Arthur Wynne who sought an operation for an inoperable brain tumor. Nightwing and Catwoman investigate a graveyard break-in and are attacked by the Scarecrow. Nightwing is overpowered by the fear toxin, but Catwoman defeats Scarecrow and gets Nightwing to safety. However, she is captured by Hush after Nightwing escapes.Batman: Hush (2019)At Arkham Asylum, Batman interrogates Riddler who reveals that he has been Wynne as well as Hush. He had used a Lazarus Pit to cure himself of his brain tumor and during his time in the Lazarus Pit, he figured out Batman’s identity as Bruce Wayne and formed a plan involving several villains to destroy both the personal life and the crime-fighting career of Batman. Batman deduces that Riddler is actually Clayface mimicking his identity while the latter communicated via satellite. After defeating Clayface, Batman finds Riddler’s location and the two engage in a final confrontation. Riddler is nearly killed, but is saved by Batman with his grapnel. However, Catwoman cuts the line and allows Riddler to fall to his death. In the aftermath, Batman and Catwoman decide to go their separate ways after a fierce disagreement over Batman’s ethical code. Both of them acknowledge that while their relationship cannot happen presently, it may someday.Batman: Hush (2019)We see Batman go through a lot of trials in this movie. He takes on his gallery, he explores love, and his code is tested. The movie is great in the visuals, the writing, the music, the voice acting, and so much more. There are changes made to make it fit in the current universe and it works well. A good balance of humor and drama in between all the action. Some will complain about the changes and cuts, but the movie maintains the heart of the story when it comes to Batman and his challenges. A worthwhile watch for fans of Batman.

 

REVIEW: BATMAN VS TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

Starring

Troy Baker (Young Justice)
Eric Bauza (The Liud House)
Darren Criss (Glee)
Baron Vaughn (Mystery Science Theater 3000)
Kyle Mooney (zoolander 2)
Ben Giroux (Henry Danger)
Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Brian George (The Big BAng Theory)
Tom Kenny (The Superhero Squad)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)

Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)While touring at Powers Industrial, Barbara Gordon witnesses a powerful generator being stolen by the Foot Clan and also spots four creatures she believes are metahumans during the robbery. She relays the information to Batman, who fights the Foot Clan at Wayne Enterprises before he is defeated by the Shredder. The four metahumans Batgirl was referring to are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who have arrived in Gotham to stop Shredder’s schemes and find out who his new ally is. After defending Wayne Enterprises from Penguin, the Turtles meet Batman in an alleyway and proceed to fight him as both sides believe the other is working with Shredder. The Turtles are forced to retreat when Batman gains the upper hand on them with his superior fighting prowess.Troy Baker, Ben Giroux, and Rachel Bloom in Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)After researching Batman and his reported locations, Donatello manages to lead the Turtles into the Batcave, where they have a brief scuffle with Robin. After Batman and Batgirl arrive, the Turtles introduce themselves and offer their assistance to the Bat Family when they realize they have the same goal. Robin reveals to the group that Shredder is working with Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins. In exchange for the secrets of the Lazarus Pit, Shredder and his subordinates aid Ra’s in building a machine that will throw Gotham into chaos by infecting everyone in the city with mutagen combined with the Joker’s venom. The two break into Arkham Asylum, where Joker gives them the formula for his venom in exchange for a canister of mutagen.Brian George, Eric Bauza, Troy Baker, Ben Giroux, Darren Criss, Baron Vaughn, and Rachel Bloom in Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)The Bat Family and the Turtles are alerted of an incident in Arkham Asylum by Commissioner Gordon, where they discover that Joker has used the mutagen to transform all of the inmates and himself into mutant animals. The heroes face off against the mutated rogues gallery, and Joker injects Batman with the mutagen and venom combination to turn him into an unhinged mutant bat. After defeating Joker, the heroes use Batgirl and Donatello’s retro-mutagen to cure Batman and the inmates, but realize that it was all a distraction for Shredder and Ra’s al Ghul to acquire the Wayne Enterprises cloud seeder from Penguin.Troy Baker and Andrew Kishino in Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)As Batman recovers in the Batcave, the two teams find out that their villains are launching their machine at the Ace Chemicals plant. Batman initially orders the Turtles to leave Gotham due to their impulsiveness, but Raphael convinces him that they are better off working together to learn from their mistakes. As the two groups advance towards Ace Chemicals, they defeat most of the Foot Clan and League of Assassins forces before confronting Shredder and Ra’s al Ghul. Leonardo defeats Ra’s, Batman and Raphael take down Shredder, and Donatello and Michelangelo destroy the machine before it activates. The debris from the ensuing explosion knocks Shredder into a vat of chemicals and detonates the plant. Before the Turtles depart Gotham, Batman treats the heroes to pizza.Eric Bauza and Troy Baker in Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)In a post-credits scene, Shredder is revealed to have survived the explosion, as he now strongly resembles the Joker and starts to laugh maniacallyEric Bauza, Troy Baker, Darren Criss, Baron Vaughn, and Kyle Mooney in Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)Absolutely Loved it. Dc has done everything right this year. Doom Patrol, Titans and now this. Everything is on the right track.

REVIEW: THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART

Starring

Chris Pratt (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Will Arnett (Blades of Glory
Tiffany Haddish (Night School)
Stephanie Beatriz (In The Heights)
Charlie Day (Pacific Rim)
Alison Brie (The Post)
Nick Offerman (Good Omens)
Brooklynn Prince (The Angry Birds Movie 2)
Maya Rudolph (Happytime Murders)
Will Ferrell (Anchorman)
Richard Ayoade (The Watch)
Channing Tatum (G.I.Joe)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones)
Margot Rubin (Margot & Marie)
Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad)
Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter)
Will Forte (Booksmart)
Bruce Willis (Glass)
Ben Schwartz (Sonic The Hedgehog)

Elizabeth Banks and Chris Pratt in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)Following the destruction of the Kragle, Finn’s sister Bianca has been invited to share their father’s LEGO collection; in the LEGO universe, this is represented by the arrival of Duplo aliens. Emmet builds the aliens a heart as a token of friendship, but when one eats it and playfully demands more, Lucy interprets this as an attack and retaliates. The Duplo creatures cry and invade, making a mess of Bricksburg. President Business unhelpfully tells everyone to “get along” before leaving to go golfing, but Emmet tells Lucy that “Everything can still be awesome”.Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Charlie Day, Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt, and Alison Brie in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)Five years later, Bianca has taken some of Finn’s LEGO creations and other toys in their basement to play with. In the LEGO universe, the Duplo army’s invasions have turned Bricksburg into the post-apocalyptic wasteland Apocalypseburg, hardening its citizens. Emmet remains upbeat and wants to move into a dream home with Lucy, but he is troubled by visions of an impending cataclysm dubbed “Armamageddon”.Elizabeth Banks and Chris Pratt in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)A mini-doll named General Mayhem arrives and proclaims that Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi of the Systar System (Bianca’s bedroom) wants to marry Apocalypseburg’s leader. Mayhem’s forces arrests Batman, Lucy, Benny, MetalBeard, and Unikitty to the Systar System, where Batman eventually agrees to marry Wa’Nabi, while the others are placed in environments designed to tempt them, which only Lucy resists.In pursuit, Emmet converts his house into a spaceship and travels through “the Stairgate” – out of the basement – and is saved from an asteroid field by rugged adventurer Rex Dangervest. Emmet begins to mimic Rex, hoping to impress Lucy. Lucy and her friends are taken to a spa; seeing her friends enjoy the catchy pop music, Lucy thinks they are being brainwashed and escapes to find Emmet. Rex and Emmet evade Wa’Nabi’s forces and find Lucy. Emmet devises a rescue plan: Lucy will switch off the music, and Emmet will destroy the reception cake, encased in a temple, to stop the wedding.As Lucy fights Mayhem, she learns the Systar System never meant to antagonize Apocalypseburg, but merely failed to communicate their desire to coexist in peace – in the real world, Bianca simply wants Finn to play with her. She also discovers that Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi’s original form was the heart Emmet gave the aliens. Realizing Rex has sinister motives, Lucy tries to stop Emmet but, manipulated by Rex, he destroys the cake’s temple.In the real world, Emmet’s destruction is carried out by Finn angrily destroying Bianca’s LEGO creations. Emmet realizes his mistake but is seized by Rex, knocking Lucy onto a shelf. Now in the real world, she watches the siblings bicker. Aboard his ship, Rex reveals that he is an embittered version of Emmet from the future; abandoned for years underneath the dryer after crashing in the asteroid field, he became Rex – “Radical Emmet Xtreme” – and built a remote time machine to save Emmet. As revenge for being neglected while the other toys were played with, Rex has tricked his past self into bringing about Armamageddon.When Emmet asks Rex what Armamageddon really is, he gets his answer when Rex explains what is happening in the real world right now; Bianca and Finn’s mother halts their bickering and asks them to put away their LEGO sets, representing Armamageddon (as in “Our momma gets in”, as Lucy discovers). Everything in the Lego Universe begins to crumble and fall into the dark hole of the Bin of Storage, represented by Finn and Bianca taking their creations apart and putting them in bins. Bianca puts Lucy in storage last, and it all brings an apparent end to the LEGO universe that Lucy calls into question. In the real world, Finn hears Lucy and the others singing “Everything’s Not Awesome” as Rex knocks Emmet under the dryer. Lucy rallies the others into escaping from the storage bin in various spacecraft and returning to the LEGO universe to save Emmet and stop Rex. Evading Rex’s raptor Rexwing fighter squadron, Emmet and Lucy overpower Rex and sabotage his time machine. Rex redeems himself as he and his timeline fade from existence, and Emmet and Lucy reconcile.Wa’Nabi and Batman wed, as Finn and Bianca agree to play together again. Their mother returns their LEGO sets and Finn repairs Bianca’s creations, reversing Armamageddon. The LEGO universe is transformed into a mishmash of the restored Bricksburg and the Systar System: the peaceful “Syspocalypstar”. President Business returns from golfing but is immediately ejected from the LEGO universe by fireworks due to Benny accidentally setting fire on his hair. Emmet’s dream house is rebuilt, with an original album of “Everything Is Awesome” on his couch revealing that Lucy co-created the song, much to Emmet’s surprise.Overall, The Lego Movie 2 ended up being better than I was expecting it to be. It’s always going to be hard to top the original and yeah it doesn’t feel as fresh and they do reuse some ideas, themes, and jokes in it, but as an Animated sequel I think it delivers on giving us a movie in the same ball park that works both for kids and adults.

 

REVIEW: THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE

CAST

Will Arnett (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Zach Galifanakis (The Hangover)
Michael Cera (Juno)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter)
Jenny Slate (The Lorax)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Billy Dee Williams (BAtman)
Mariah Carey (Glitter)
Eddie Izzard (Hannibal)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Jemaine Clement (Men In Black 3)
Ellie Kemper (21 Jump Street)
Jason Mantzoukas (Bad Neigbours)
Doug Benson (Super High Me)
Zoe Kravitz (Divergent)
Kate Micucci (The Big Bang Theory)
Riki Lindhome (Much Ado About Nothing)
Channing Tatum (Dear John)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Laura Kightlinger (Lucky Louie)
Ralph Garman (Ted)
Chris Hardwick (Terminator 3)

Three years after saving the Lego Universe with Emmet and Wyldstyle, Batman continues fighting crime in Gotham City. During a mission to prevent The Joker from destroying the city, Batman hurts his arch-rival’s feelings by telling him he is not as important in his life as he thinks he is, leading to the Joker to desire seeking the ultimate revenge on him.
The following day, Batman attends the city’s winter gala as his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, to celebrate the retirement of Commissioner Gordon and the ascension of his daughter Barbara as Gotham’s new police commissioner, but is infuriated when she announces her plans to restructure the city’s police to function without the need of Batman. The Joker crashes the party with the rest of Gotham City’s villains, but has all of them surrender to the police. Despite realizing that this makes him no longer relevant to the city’s safety, Batman suspects his arch-rival is up to something and decides to stop him by banishing him into the Phantom Zone, a prison for some of the most dangerous villains in the Lego Universe.
Before he can make plans to acquire the Phantom Zone Projector that Superman uses, Alfred intervenes and advises him to take charge of Dick Grayson, whom Bruce had unwittingly adopted as his ward during the gala to which he eventually agrees and fosters Dick as Robin. The pair manage to recover the Projector from the Fortress of Solitude, before breaking into Arkham Asylum and using it on the Joker. Annoyed at his reckless actions and suspecting that the Joker wanted this to happen, Barbara locks up Batman and Robin. While the Projector is being seized as evidence, Harley Quinn steals it back and uses it to free the Joker, who unleashes the villains trapped within the Phantom Zone to cause havoc upon Gotham, including Lord Voldemort, King Kong, Sauron, the Wicked Witch of the West, Medusa, Agent Smith and his clones, the Daleks, and the Kraken.
Realizing that the city does still need him, Barbara releases Batman and Robin and reluctantly teams up with them as “Batgirl” to stop the Joker, with the team joined by Alfred. Batman soon finds himself able to trust and rely on the others, allowing them to defeat Sauron, but upon reaching Wayne Island, he ditches the team out of fear of losing them like his parents, before confronting Joker alone. Upon seeing that the Batman will never change, Joker zaps him to the Phantom Zone, before stealing the Batcave’s stash of confiscated bombs and heading for the city’s Energy Facility. Arriving in the Phantom Zone, Batman witnesses the harm he has caused to everyone because of his selfishness and slowly accepts his greatest fear when Robin, Barbara and Alfred decide to come to his aid. Making a deal with the Phantom Zone’s gatekeeper, Phyllis, to bring back all the villains in exchange for returning to Gotham City, Batman arrives to save the trio and admits to them his mistakes, requesting their help to save the day.
Seeking to stop Joker from setting off the bombs beneath the Energy Facility, thus causing the plates beneath Gotham to come apart and send the city into the infinite abyss, Batman and his allies team up with the city’s regular list of villains, after they had felt neglected by Joker, with the group successfully sending back the escaped villains to the Phantom Zone. However, Batman fails to reach the bombs in time, the detonation causing the city to split apart. Realizing how to stop the city from being destroyed, Batman reluctantly convinces Joker that he is the reason for being the hero he is, and working together alongside Batman’s friends, the villains, and the city’s inhabitants, chain link themselves together, reconnecting the city’s plates and saving Gotham City.
With the city saved, Batman prepares to be taken back into the Phantom Zone to fulfill his bargain with Phyllis, only to be rejected by the gatekeeper who chooses to let him remain after she saw how much he had changed in order to save everyone. Batman allows the Joker and the rest of his rogues gallery to escape with the confidence that whenever they return, then they’ll be no match for the combined team of himself, Robin, Batgirl, and Alfred.Overall, this is a very enjoyable movie with a gripping story, fantastic animation that tops its predecessor and clever humor. I definitely recommend giving this a watch if you’re a fan of The Lego Movie.

REVIEW: THE BATMAN – SEASON 5

Main Cast

Rino Romano (Spaceballs: TAS)
Alastair Duncan (Providence)
Evan Sabara (The Polar Express)
Danielle Judovits (Toy Story)
Mitch Pileggi (Stargate: Atlantis)

The Batman (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

George Newbern (Justice Leegue)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Dana Delany (Superman: TAS)
James Remar (BLack Lightning)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Legend of The Mummy)
Gwendoline Yeo (Desperate Housewives)
Chris Hardwick (The X’s)
Jason Marsden (Young Justice)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Amanda Anka (Buffy: TVS)
John Larroquette (Stripes)
Charlie Schlatter (18 Again)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Miguel Ferrer (Iron Man 3)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants)
Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns)
Hynden Walch (Teen Titans)
Jerry O’Connell (The Death of Superman)
Patton Oswalt (Caprica)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Peter MacNicol (Veep)
Chris Pratt (Avengers Endgame)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Dorian Harewood (Terminator: TSCC)

The Batman (2004)Over time the show has definitely grown and it’s safe to say that it’s come into its own. Though this may be the final season it’s definitely one of the stronger ones and in the end this is a ride any fan of the character should take. In the previous seasons of The Batman all sorts of things happened that continue to have an impact upon Gotham in this fifth outing. Batgirl was added to the roster during the third season with Dick Grayson as Robin in the fourth. Several familiar villains were brought into the fold as well but most notably the finale of the fourth season featured an alien invasion and the introduction of The Justice League. That’s right where we pick up this time around with Gotham reeling in the aftermath of the alien attack.Ring_TossDestruction is everywhere and the people are in need of support. Lucky for them Superman comes to town with a massive check from Metropolis but unluckily for Superman Metallo is waiting for his chance to strike. What transpires is a team up between Batman and Superman to take down Lex Luthor who has his eyes set on Gotham. In the meantime Superman falls under Lex’s control thanks to some help from Poison Ivy and kryptonite. Naturally it’s up to Batman and Robin to stop the man of steel and there’s plenty of fighting between the DC legends.Joker_ExpressIf you have been following the series this marks Superman’s first appearance on the show and you’ll notice a trend that follows throughout this year. The previous season’s introduction of characters such as Green Arrow, Flash, Hawkman, and Green Lantern fleshes out The Batman’s roster somewhat and really gives is a Justice League feel.Batman_superman_robinThis season is very entertaining even though the focus shifts from Batman and his universe. At this point in The Batman’s run the creative cast definitely had it going on but you can tell that even in the final moments they were experimenting. I see what the producers were aiming to do with this season and for all intents and purposes it is successful.

REVIEW: THE BATMAN – SEASON 4

Main Cast

Rino Romano (Spaceballs: TAS)
Alastair Duncan (Providence)
Evan Sabara (The Polar Express)
Danielle Judovits (Toy Story)
Mitch Pileggi (Stargate: Atlantis)Rino Romano in The Batman (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Grey Griffin (The Book of Life)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Jason Marsden (Young Justice)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Steve Harris (The Rock)
Wallace Langham (CSI)
Julianne Grossman (Star Trek: Discovery)
Allison Mack (Smallville)
Brandon Routh (Legends of Tomorrow)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
James Remar (BLack Lightning)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters II)
Jerry O’Connell (The Death of Superman)
Kellie Martin (ER)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Hynden Walch (Teen Titans)
Townsend Coleman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Bob Gunton (Daredevil)
Brooke Shields (Pretty Baby)
Gina Gershon (Red Heat)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Legend of The Mummy)
Dorian Harewood (Terminator: TSCC)

The Batman (2004)Few animated TV shows have improved as greatly and as rapidly as much as “The Batman.” When the program debuted on the Kids WB! network in 2004, it was a reboot of the franchise, and while repeat viewings did help the show’s more radical changes become acceptable to lifelong fans of the character, it still never quite hit the heights of the 1990s’ “Batman: The Animated Series,” deemed by most as the definitive presentation of the hero.Strange New World (2006)The season opens with the introduction of Robin, the Boy Wonder. Series producers took a brave risk the season prior by breaking from the continuity of the Batman mythology and bringing in Batgirl as a sidekick first; the official reason given is that Robin was tied up on the “Teen Titans” cartoon, but the switcheroo seems to go beyond that, as it led to a shakeup that helped breathe new life into the franchise.The Batman (2004)Perhaps to counterbalance such changes, the season premiere strays very little from the established Robin backstory: young Dick Grayson (seen here at around age 10 or 11, unlike several other incarnations that aged him slightly) is the son of a successful circus act. Here, Dick’s father also runs the circus, so he’s directly responsible for shooing away the thugs that show up one night for a little extortion. Batman arrives to thwart the baddies, but they return to sabotage the trapeze. The Graysons are killed mid-performance, and Bruce Wayne, seeing a parallel with his own history, takes Dick in as a foster son. Dick later discovers the Batcave, dons his old circus outfit, and sets out to capture the mobsters; by episode’s end, he’s properly christened as Robin.The Batman (2004)It’s interesting to note that every time this legend is retold, its writers find new ways of infusing some modern day logic into the proceedings. Like Dick’s circus costume, which now comes right off the bat with the familiar “R” crest, only for “Richard,” not “Robin.” He later decides to use “Robin” as his superhero alter ego not in tribute to Robin Hood, or because of the goofy motorcycle helmet design from “Batman Forever,” but simply because Dick’s mom liked that nickname. It adds a bittersweet human touch to the myth that feels so natural, I’m surprised it’s never been used before. (In a nice touch, Kevin Conroy, the voice actor who played Batman in the 1990s, appears as Dick’s father. It’s a wonderful passing-the-torch moment that reminds me of when Adam West showed up on “Batman: The Animated Series” as the Grey Ghost. Also providing guest star voice work this season are Mark Hamill, Louis Gossett, Jr., Ron Perlman, James Remar, Wallace Langham, and Brandon Routh.)The Batman (2004)Batgirl is absent from this episode (wisely so – although it’s an excellent story, it’s also pretty cluttered with characters and events). She returns in the follow-up, and there we set the stage for the rest of the season’s tone. The sidekicks spend their time bickering and trying to one-up each other, in pure brother-sister mode. It’s a fun dynamic to the show that allows Batman to remain his moody self without forcing the series to become overly brooding. A peculiar moment regarding the sidekicks comes late in the season, when Robin pauses in the middle of a dangerous mission to ask Batgirl if she’s afraid. After some fudging between the two, she admits that she is. Not only is this a deeper, more thoughtful character moment than the series would have ever attempted a few years earlier, but it’s a startling moment of character honesty that you rarely get in a children’s adventure.

REVIEW: BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER

 

CAST (VOICES)

Will Friedle (Boy Meets World)

Kevin Conroy (Batman:
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Angie Harmon (Agent Cody Banks)
Teri Garr (Young Frankenstein)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Tara Strong (Comic Book: The Movie)
Matthew Valencia (Lawnmower Man 2)

Melissa Joan Hart (Melissa & Joey)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Henry Rollins (Wrong Turn 2)
Rachael Leigh Cook (Antitrust)
Ryan O’Donohue (The Iron Giant)
Vernee Watson (The Big Bang theory)

It’s a shame that Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker did not have the opportunity to grace the silver screen. Though the film was originally conceived as a direct-to-video effort, Bruce Timm reported in San Diego during the summer of ’99 that Warner was flirting with the idea of a theatrical release. Was not to be, though, and as the Halloween 2000 release date of the video and DVD drew closer, the entertainment industry was under the watchful eye of the government, fending off accusations that it was delivering adult content to children. A nearly two month delay for the dark, violent Return of the Joker was announced shortly thereafter, and fans were aghast at the timing. Rumors began to circulate that Warner was unhappy with the content of the movie in this hostile political climate and sought to water it down considerably. Writer Paul Dini confirmed in an interview with Ain’t It Cool News that edits were in the wings, and though he was positive about the changes spearheaded by partner Bruce Timm, it did apparently lead to a rift in the seemingly insurmountable team.

 

To get an idea of how drastically certain portions were changed, World’s Finest has a assembled a detailed list of edits, though bear in mind that there are substantial spoilers. Sales of the edited disc were lackluster, due in large part to a lack of any real promotional effort by Warner Bros. Though the quality of the butchered product was still exceedingly high, it seemed as if the untainted version would never see the light of day. Slowly, positive news began to trickle from Tinseltown. Paul Dini, at the Wizard World Convention last summer, stated that he was certain that an unedited release would be forthcoming. This was confirmed by Warner two months later in a chat on the Home Theater Forum. Now, just over three years after Paul Dini first put pen to paper for his initial draft of the Return of the Joker screenplay, Warner has finally given the movie the release it deserved from the very beginning.


Batman Beyond, for those unfamiliar, takes place some fifty years after the previous animated series. Bruce Wayne had long since shelved the cape and cowl, and Gotham City went two full decades without a protector. Derek Powers, who picked up the reins at Waynecorp, was using Wayne’s company to traffic weapons, including some of the thoroughly nasty biological variety. The father of troubled teen Terry McGinnis stumbled upon this secret and paid for this knowledge with his life. Terry, after a chance encounter, deduced Wayne’s secret identity and lifted a Batman suit, setting out to punish those responsible for his father’s murder. Despite some early friction between Bruce and Terry, the mantle was passed, and Terry took over as Gotham’s champion.


The Clown Prince of Crime has been painted in the animated series as more of an entertaining nuisance than a psychotic murderer, a far cry from how the character has appeared in comics for the past couple of decades. Return of the Joker shows the title character for what he truly is: a genuinely deranged, insane soul. Bruce has made a conscious effort to avoid telling Terry about his greatest foe, though such facts cannot remain buried forever. A gang of thugs inspired by the Joker has been ripping off bleeding-edge tech, which isn’t exactly their style. While Terry tries to determine who it is they’re fencing for, Bruce regains control of his corporation after a prolonged battle, much to the chagrin of the worm who was next in line. At a celebration to commemorate his return, the gang strikes again. This time, they are led by an individual who looks and sounds exactly like the Joker, unmarred by the ravages of time. Terry is assured that the genuine article is dead, though Bruce and Commissioner Gordon are both reluctant to provide a detailed explanation. Whatever may have happened decades ago was obviously traumatizing for the elder Wayne, who is concerned enough to request that Terry step down as Batman. Though the Joker is six feet under the festering remains of Arkham Asylum, whoever’s stepping into the role is well-aware of the secret identity of both Batmans, seizing the opportunity to rid himself of the Caped Crusaders once and for all. Long-buried secrets are unearthed, and not everyone will walk away from the final battle unscathed.

I cannot heap enough praise upon Return of the Joker. The animation is theatrical quality, sharper and more fluid than any of the previous animated tales or the best of the television series. The roster of voice actors put in excellent performances, particularly Mark Hamill as the Joker and the always-reliable Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne and the original Batman. Return of the Joker also doesn’t pull any punches…literally. Though it’s not really any more violent than what can be found on the printed page, this is undoubtedly the most extreme representation of the Caped Crusader to date, live-action or animated. It’s kept in character, though. Bruce Wayne has said time and again in the animated series that Batman does not kill, but in the film’s central flashback, he lobs a knife at the Joker with fatal force. It may have missed, but it’s difficult to fully describe the sensation of seeing Batman pushed that far. The intensity of the flashback to the torture inflicted by the Joker rivals most any live-action film I can recall offhand.

This DVD-only release of the unedited Return of the Joker includes the supplemental material from the previous release, as well as its original commentary track and intended aspect ratio. Devoted fans of the Batman Beyond series ought to find a purchase to be a no-brainer, and even those who didn’t much care for the concept of the series may very well feel differently about Return of the Joker.