Created back in 1999 as a follow-up to the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond followed a teenager named Terry McGinnis, who would become the next Batman. The series was set some 40 to 50 years after the events of the previous show, and there were obvious changes.
became Neo-Gotham, a cyberpunk inspired metropolis where flying cars, advanced weaponry, and even gene splicing are common sights. Considering that the team responsible for the show included names like Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Alan Burnett, it was no surprise that the show turned out to be great and exceed most peoples’ expectations. Part of what made the concept work was that instead of simply remaking Batman as a futuristic sci-fi, the series was very much a continuation of the Batman mythos, especially pertaining to the one established in the animated series. Bruce Wayne, now too old to be the dark knight, is an old man who lives alone with his dog, isolated from the rest of the city holed up in his mansion. Terry acts as Batman in his stead, taking orders from him almost like a field agent. It’s important to note that Terry is not Bruce Wayne. He doesn’t have the same obsessive drive and cold nature, making him a stark contrast to the old Batman. Gotham City
The movie is set somewhere within the continuity of the show. The origin of the characters is explained, but not shown; therefore this movie is mainly targeting fans of the series as opposed to bringing in new viewers. The real goal is to further tie Batman Beyond and Batman: TAS together by filling in more of the blanks that occurred within the long gap separating the time periods. The story begins with Batman battling a group of clown-based criminals who are part of a citywide gang known as the Jokerz (the name is part of the original Joker’s legacy). This particular gang has a new boss claiming to be the real Joker who - according to Bruce Wayne - has long been dead. Regardless of whether or not that’s true, this Joker causes a reign of terror spreading chaos and destruction on a massive scale.
As with the previous animated Batman movies, the entire cast from the show returns to play their characters. The real highlights are Kevin Conroy as the elderly Bruce Wayne and Mark Hamill as the Joker. Both are masters of their characters at this point and have appropriately aged them only to make them darker and sound more bitter or sinister. The screenplay was written by Paul Dini, who has a talent for writing Batman stories and there are some truly great moments in this that allow for each character to shine in his or her own way. His dialogue combined with Mark Hamill’s voice is exactly what makes this animated version of the Joker so memorable and still used so many years later. The dynamic between the hero and villain and the scenes dealing with Batman and the Joker’s history are perfectly crafted.
|The Joker confronts Batman|
Unlike in Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero, there's no use of three dimensional computer animation to be found instead relying on the style that this team has become known for. The animation is superb, and possibly the highest quality that I’ve seen it look. While it matches the look and feel of the show, the quality is just so much better; the background animations are imaginative and varied, ranging from large and colorful settings like the abandoned candy factory the Joker uses for his base, or the multi-leveled club that Terry goes to with his girlfriend. The city of
is also different from the more retro look of the old Batman movies and is instead more reminiscent of a setting like Neo-Tokyo in Akira (a movie this one borrows heavily from). Part of what makes this movie so interesting is how dark it gets with its material, especially concerning characters and their history together. Despite all the fun and adventure that's attributed to costumed crime fighting, the danger and constant dealings with insane villains wears on the main characters. There’s an extended flashback sequence that details the final encounter of Batman and the Joker. What the Joker did to bring it about is deranged and horrific. Much as you would expect, their final battle is dark and alarmingly disturbing. The filmmakers were not afraid to cross over certain lines that they couldn’t while working on a television series directed at kids. And do they ever. Neo-Gotham