In the early 90s, Batman was in full swing. Small and big screen. Thanks to the success of two feature films directed by Tim Burton. And the animated series started in 1992. Originally intended to be a sequel to the Michael Keaton films from which it draws its musical theme, the show quickly became a phenomenon in its own right.
So much so that Warner Bros. And FOX, its broadcaster, is thinking bigger. So a feature film was ordered from screenwriter Alan Burnett, who was then joined by Martin Pascoe, Paul Dean and Michael Reeves to create this original story, which can be watched independently of the events of the series, despite the presence of the Joker.
Titled Batman vs. The Phantom Menace, the feature film was released in US theaters on December 25, 1993. And it’s a great Christmas present for fans who still consider it one of the best Bat-Man films ever made. The French public will have to wait until August 1, 1994 and the VHS release to find out for sure.
After interrupting a meeting of Gotham City mobsters, Batman finds himself guilty of murdering their leader. In fact, a murder committed by a mysterious newcomer: a masked ghost, an angel of death who has come to atone for their crimes against certain individuals in the city. All obviously not, otherwise it would take more than 76 minutes to achieve this feature film.
To make matters worse, Bruce Wayne reunites with an old love: Andrea Beaumont. A woman who could change his life. A character created for the occasion, thanks to which the film connects the past, present and future of the superhero. Filled with flashbacks, his investigation of the masked ghost goes back to his early years as a vigilante and the relationship that could have set him off that path.
Masked while hitting (OHÉ OHÉ)
Like the recent Batman, which reminisced about Batman’s younger years without being the origin story, Masked Ghost is partially inspired by the comics. “second year”Published in 1987, in which the hero especially went to his parents’ grave in costume and met a villain who called himself The Reaper.
But that’s just one influence among many others in this story, which remains primarily true to the animated series. Both in its visual style and film noir atmosphere with gothic accents. and recalls one of his lesser-known and surprising episodes, centered not on a cartoon villain but on a violent gang war.
Despite the presence of the Joker, of whom we discover little of his past life, or the look and feel of the main antagonist, Batman vs. The Masked Ghost remains deeply human and shines through with his introspective side. Because the hero sees in his new enemy a distorted mirror of himself. What could have happened if he had taken revenge and not given up killing.
And this is when Bruce Wayne, thanks to the return of Andrea, relives his past and sees the possibility of a future life without the mask and cape. Where loneliness would not be his main companion. As ever, the billionaire and his alter ego are shown as two sides of a tragic figure who is doomed to remain on the difficult path he has chosen.
An aspect that is consistent with Tim Burton’s films is a foreshadowing of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight and Matt Reeves’ Batman. With the exception of Yoel Schumacher’s opus, which came out a few years later (in 1995 and 1997), which leave the darkness approaching the atmosphere of the fluorescent colors and techno parade.
The results are as critical as Batman vs. The Phantom Menace, with the same rating as The Dark Knight Rises on AlloCiné, averaging 4.3 out of 5. Even if the popularity of the latter is not so high. It should be. Is this related to his live video status? Its connection to the iconic animated series, but which one might not have crossed generations like some live-action feature films? Whatever the reason, re-release it on video will help fix it.
For its thirtieth anniversary, the film is being released on 4K Blu-Ray in a Steelbook edition. The colors are vivid and the shadows cast, and the story has not lost its power or its tragic dimension. And it comes with a bonus tribute to Kevin Conroy, the voice actor for Bat-Man, who died on November 10, 2022.
A golden opportunity to (re)discover what is not only a great animated film, but one of the best Batman films ever made. And proof that animation isn’t just for kids, as the series has already made clear. The latter is also available on Prime Video’s Warner Pass, should you ever feel like diving into The Masked Ghost (spoiler: it will happen).
Rose James is a Gossipify movie and series reviewer known for her in-depth analysis and unique perspective on the latest releases. With a background in film studies, she provides engaging and informative reviews, and keeps readers up to date with industry trends and emerging talents.