|Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker|
Home video release poster
|Directed by||Curt Geda|
|Screenplay by||Paul Dini|
|Based on||DC Comics characters|
|Music by||Kristopher Carter|
|Edited by||Joe Gall|
|Distributed by||Warner Home Video|
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (also known as Batman of the Future: Return of the Joker in the United Kingdom and Australia) is a 2000 American direct-to-video superhero mystery animated film featuring the comic book superhero Batman and his archenemy, the Joker. It is set in the continuity of the animated series Batman Beyond, in which Bruce Wayne has retired from crime fighting, giving the mantle of Batman to high-school student Terry McGinnis, and serves as a sequel to both Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. As in the TV series, Will Friedle and Kevin Conroy star as Terry McGinnis and Bruce Wayne, respectively, and Mark Hamill, who voiced the Joker opposite Conroy in Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, reprises his role.
Before its release, the film was heavily edited to remove scenes of intense violence, and some dialogue was altered, thus creating the "Not-Rated" version of the film. The original version was subsequently released on DVD following an online petition to have the original version released. It received a PG-13 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for violence, the first animated Batman film and from Warner Bros. Family Entertainment to do so.
In Neo-Gotham City in 2040, the Joker mysteriously resurfaces after having disappeared some forty years ago, taking over a faction of the criminal gang Jokerz. Bruce insists that the Joker must be an impostor despite the evidence, claiming to have witnessed the Joker's death after their last battle. Later, Terry and his girlfriend Dana are attacked by the Jokerz at a nightclub while the Joker simultaneously ambushes Bruce in the Batcave, poisoning him with his trademark toxin and leaving him for dead.
At Terry's insistence, Barbara reluctantly tells him what really happened to the Joker - the reason she and Bruce believe him to be dead. Decades earlier, after Nightwing (Dick Grayson) moved to the adjoining city of Blüdhaven to fight crime on his own, the Joker and Harley Quinn kidnapped Tim Drake, Dick's second successor as Robin, disfigured him to look like the Joker, and tortured him for three weeks, at which point Tim revealed Batman's secrets. After the Joker sadistically taunted both Tim and Batman himself, Batman furiously attacked the Joker for what he did to Tim. During the final battle, although the Joker attempted to make Tim kill Batman, Tim turned on the Joker and killed him before suffering a mental breakdown; Harley Quinn is also believed to have perished after falling from a mineshaft during her fight with Batgirl. Batman and Batgirl comforted Tim and then buried the Joker's body in a mineshaft deep beneath Arkham Asylum, while Tim was eventually rehabilitated by Dr. Leslie Thompkins, Bruce forbade Tim from resuming his vigilante role, blaming himself for what happened and swore that he would never endanger another young partner again before Tim soon left, choosing to make the right decision for himself.
Terry decides to question Tim, who denies any involvement with the Joker and bitterly claims he had grown sick of his past life as Robin. Terry then suspects Wayne Enterprises' operations manager Jordan Pryce, who would have taken control of the company were it not for Bruce's return. Terry finds the Jokerz with Pryce on his yacht, who reveal that Pryce had hired them and given them access codes. However, the Joker has sent them to kill Pryce, as he is no longer needed and to cover their tracks. Terry rescues Pryce before a laser blast destroys the yacht, and turns him over to the police.
Back in the Batcave, Terry deduces that Tim must be working with the Joker when he discovers that the high-tech equipment the Jokerz have been stealing could be combined by someone with Tim's expertise as a top-level communications expert to form a machine that would be able to take control of any satellite, even an orbiting military satellite with an automated defense system, and fire it at will, thus explaining what happened on the yacht.
Terry tracks the Joker to the abandoned Jolly Jack Candy Factory where he instead finds Tim, who then transforms into the Joker before his eyes. The Joker reveals that when he kidnapped Robin, he secretly implanted a microchip built from cutting-edge genetics technology (revealed later to have been stolen from Project Cadmus), into Tim's brain. The microchip carries the Joker's consciousness and genetic material, allowing the Joker to transform Tim into a clone of himself, eventually becoming strong enough to permanently control Tim's body.
Terry discovers the Joker to be a formidable combatant since he has extensive knowledge of Bruce's tactics as Batman. Terry improvises by using his own street fighting maneuvers and taunting the Joker's obsession with Bruce as well as his origin, sending the Joker into a fury to put him off balance. Retrieving the Joker's joy buzzer—which had minutes earlier fallen against several control wires, shocking them and causing the active laser to redirect itself towards the candy factory—Terry delivers a shock to the Joker's neck, destroying the microchip and reverting Tim to his old self, finally freeing him from the Joker's control and ending the Joker permanently. Terry escapes with Tim before the satellite destroys the factory and the satellite-jamming device, safely shutting itself down.
As Tim recovers in the hospital, he is visited by Bruce, and they both express gratitude towards Terry for saving Tim's life and acknowledge his worth to the Batman mantle as Bruce and Tim reconcile. Harley is also revealed to have survived her fall decades earlier when an elderly Harley is seen bailing her grandchildren (Dee Dee) out of prison.
The film was put in production after the cancellation of Boyd Kirkland's Batman: Arkham, the intended sequel to Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, as well as the planned third Batman: The Animated Series feature film. It was produced during the second and third season of Batman Beyond, and aired as part of the third season, specifically after the episodes "King's Ransom" and "Untouchable", although in fact, the movie's events could have happened even after "Unmasked", the show's series finale, as there is no reference to the previous two mentioned episodes. Something interesting to note is that the show's recurring character Maxine "Max" Gibson is inexplicably absent from the film.
The design of the Joker in the film was the second revamp of physical appearance, after his redesign in The New Batman Adventures. This design was later used in the episodes "Injustice for All", "Only a Dream, Part 1" and "Wild Cards" of Justice League and in the episode "The Big Leagues" of Static Shock. According to the DVD commentary, Joker's new design was based on an illustration of Hannibal Lecter from the novel The Silence of the Lambs, although some elements of this new design could be inspired by the villain Frieza from the Dragon Ball franchise. The design of the character of Chucko was inspired in a clown costume of Eric Radomski, while the character of Ghoul's design was loosely based on The Scarecrow, one of Batman's original foes. The character of Woof was created as a tribute to Bud and Lou, the pet hyenas of The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. Dee Dee's original designs were also very different to the final ones, resembling very much the classic disguise her grandmother Harley Quinn.
Apart that the main cast of the TV series returned to reprise their roles, the producers cast Michael Rosenbaum, a voice actor that voiced many characters in Batman Beyond, as Ghoul, one of the Joker's Jokerz. The others were voiced by other DCAU voice actors. According to the DVD commentary, Rosenbaum modeled his voice on that of actor Christopher Walken. Rosenbaum's performance ended up leading the producers to gave him the role of The Flash in Justice Legue. Dean Stockwell was cast as an adult Tim Drake, being inspired by one of his earliest roles in The Boy with Green Hair when he was a child actor, while casting director Andrea Romano played young Tim when he was Joker Junior. Mark Hamill, apart of reprising his role as the Joker, also voiced Jordan Pryce, a red herring character, in the film, in order to deceive the public about the new Joker's true identity. Tara Strong, who voiced Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, was first credited as Tara Charendoff, her maiden name. For the scene of the old Harley Quinn, Bruce Timm originally wanted to cast an old actress for the role, but at the end, he decided to maintain Arleen Sorkin in the role.
In the early drafts of the film's script, Joker's sidekick Harley Quinn was originally set to be killed in the flashback sequence. However, a short scene near the end of the movie, just after the climax, features an older woman who resembles Harley releasing her twin granddaughters Dee Dee (Delia and Deidre Dennis) from prison. When the old woman scolds the twins about their actions, one of them replies: "Shut up, Nana Harley!". Producer and screenwriter Paul Dini included this scene in the script because of his displeasure at being asked to kill off what he felt was one of his biggest contributions to the Batman mythos. Producer Bruce Timm chose to retain it because he felt it provided some necessary comic relief. The Hyperion-class Satellite idea was taken from Katsuhiro Otomo's sci-fi film Akira. The Jolly Jack Candy Factory, the resurrected Joker's hideout, is a reference to American comic book artist Jack Kirby, who, during his early Marvel Comics days, was known as "Jolly" Jack Kirby.
Many scenes written in the film's original script, like one featuring The Penguin being interrogated by Batman at the Iceberg Lounge during the flashback sequence in order to discover the whereabouts of The Joker and Robin or one showing the Jokerz being arrested by Barbara Gordon and the Gotham City Police Department, were deleted due many reasons like time constraints. Woof even had a line in the original script, but was cut. As an interesting fact, the scene in which Bruce listens records taken from The New Batman Adventures episode "Holiday Knights" was originally planned to retain the episode's animation, but at the end it was edited to replace the Joker's old appearance. Even although many scenes were deleted from the final cut, some planned scenes were storyboarded but never made. For example, it was originally intended that after being shot at the film's beginning, Bonk's corpse was to be seen in the background twitching throughout the rest of the scene, but the producers were asked to leave it out early in the film's development. Another deleted concept was that in the "Our Family Memories" video, Joker's apron was originally going to say "Kill the Cook", rather than the final's "Kiss the Cook", and the table was supposed to have surgical tools rather than the final's bagels, plungers, and cream cheese, but it was changed due being too gruesome.
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The film was initially released amid the backlash against violence in films and video games aimed at children that followed the Columbine High School massacre, in which Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and one teacher before committing suicide on April 20, 1999. As a result, the film was substantially re-edited shortly before release on December 12, 2000, to reduce the violence. The original unedited version was eventually released as "The Original Uncut Version" on April 23, 2002.
The following are scenes that were changed in the edited-for-content version:
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|Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Various artists|
|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 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|
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||Nominated|
|Voice Acting in a Feature Production||Mark Hamill||Nominated|
|DVD Exclusive Award||Best Animated Character Performance||Won|
The comic adaption of the film was released in February 2001. While the comic was largely uncensored, the page depicting the Joker's death was redone to match the uncensored version of the movie.
The comic includes several scenes that did not make it to either version of the film. Two examples are:
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker|
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