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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is an animated film first released in 1993. It was created by the same cast and crew as Batman: The Animated Series, having been originally intended as a direct-to-video spin-off from the series.

Many fans consider Batman: Mask of the Phantasm the best Batman movie ever made. Film critics Siskel & Ebert gave the film a two-thumbs up, the only Batman film to be given such praise.


Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

The film's story divides into two parts: one in the film's "present", and one, told through flashbacks, in the early days of Bruce Wayne's crimefighting career.

Bruce Wayne's fledgeling career faces two major obstacles: first, he is having trouble getting criminals to take him seriously at first sight (not having yet hit upon the bat motif); second, he has fallen in love. Realising that an ongoing relationship with the beautiful Andrea Beaumont would massively complicate his crusade against crime, Bruce decides that one of them has to go. After a long internal struggle, the crusade loses. Bruce proposes to Andrea, and she accepts. The next day, Andrea sends her engagement ring back with a note telling Bruce to forget her, and leaves the country. Devastated, Bruce throws himself back into crimefighting, discovers a large bat-haunted cavern in his back yard, and becomes the Batman.

In the present, a mysterious cloaked figure is stalking and killing Gotham City mob bosses. The murders are the work of a new vigilante, the Phantasm, but many attribute them to Batman, who becomes the target of a police manhunt. The situation becomes complicated when Andrea Beaumont returns to Gotham, forcing Bruce Wayne to deal with the feelings he still has for her. Things are further complicated when Batman discovers that Andrea's father is the link between the murdered mobsters, with whom he had business dealings. Also present in the mix is the Joker, who in the days before his life-changing accident worked for one of the mob bosses, making him another of the Phantasm's targets and meaning that in short order he is the only man still living in Gotham who can explain what the Phantasm is up to.