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The Return of the Joker: A Review

Posted by Adam Graham on January 24, 2006

The ears are too big and I miss the cape and cowl-The Joker on the New Batman

Before, getting into my review of Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker, I’ve got to explain the reason the series had trouble catching on. The Clown Prince of Crime expressed the opinion of many fans of Batman. The Series Batman Beyond centers on 40 years in the future where Bruce Wayne has retired and is now helping a teenager (Terry McGinnis) carry on as Batman.

In the end, the show had a lot going for it: fight scenes, excellent animation, good dialogue, and strong writing. The show’s weakness is that with all that, most people still couldn’t see it as Batman. My wife and I watched the movie and we talked about it afterwards and even a few times throughout and I never once recall one of us referring to Terry McGinnis as Batman. Batman’s Bruce Wayne (its even been an answer on Jeopardy), the brooding Dark Knight, not the smart aleck 21st century answer to Spider-Man. The show’s greatest challenge is trying to make a new “Batman.” The idea that Batman is Bruce Wayne is so ground into our cultural understanding, you can’t put anyone else in that position.

However, if you can get past that, Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker is a good film with a solid cast, great animation, and smart writing .

40 years after the Joker died, he returns to terrorize Gotham once more. Bruce Wayne, haunted by regret and fear of a dark secret being uncovered asks McGinnis to quit as Batman after the Joker’s reappearance. The movie focuses on a side of Batman rarely seen: the demanding mentor whose young charges often leave embittered and angry at his perfectionism. The character development and motivations are realistic and believable in both Wayne and his charges.

How the Joker reappeared is an amazing mystery that twists and turns to a shocking conclusion. The final battle between McGinnis and the Joker is classic and highlights how different the old Batman is to the “new one.”

Overall, it was an enjoyable movie. Like my previous Batman review, I would not recommend this movie for younger kids, but ten and up should be fine. There’s quite a bit of violence, but none of it is bloody or graphic, but some of the themes may be hard for younger viewers.

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker gets my seal of approval.

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