Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)

batman beyond return of the joker poster 2000 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Solid story, good art

Edited cut down version

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Batman Beyond:  Return of the Joker

Studio:  Warner Bros. Family Entertainment

Genre(s):  Animated/Comic Book/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  December 12, 2000

MPAA Rating:  PG

batman beyond return of the joker artwork

Is he back?

Terry McGinnis finds the Batman mantle ripped away from him when Batman’s deadliest enemy the Joker returns to Gotham City.  Despite Bruce’s warning to keep away, Terry must determine if it is the real Joker and learn what happened between Joker and Batman in the past to end the battle between the two.  For answers, Terry must go to Commissioner Gordon for a tale of Harley Quinn, Joker, Batman, Batgirl, and the kidnapping of the Boy Wonder Robin and why Tim Drake’s disappearance changed Batman forever!

Directed by Curt Geda, Batman Beyond:  Return of the Joker is a DC animated superehero movie.  The film was a direct-to-video spin-off of the WB series Batman Beyond.  The movie seems to fall sometime after the Batman Beyond—Season 3 episode “King’s Ransom”.  The movie was released in two versions with an edited version due to backlash toward violence in the wake of the Columbine massacre and a Director’s Cut version with a PG-13 rating released later.

batman beyond return of the joker bruce wayne terry mcginnis mad

Bruce…what’s the joke?

Batman Beyond was an enjoyable series, but not as good as Batman:  The Animated SeriesBatman Beyond:  Return of the Joker presents some of the best aspects of both worlds and is a pretty dark story which adds to the fun.

I like it when cartoons aren’t afraid to get dark without being too dark for kids.  The edited version of the cartoon does lack the punch of the PG-13 Director’s Cut but still is pretty dark.  The great part of this film is that it helps to bridge the gap between the original series and the future of Batman Beyond.  There is a ton of debate as to where the series falls into the canon of the DC Universe since most of DC’s series are really tied together (something that is far superior to Marvel’s comic book TV series).

batman beyond return of the joker tim drake robin crazy

We all go a little mad sometimes

The story of Tim Drake in this is a sad one, but part of the shock.  The movie takes one of the most likable Robins (instead of the obvious Jason Todd choice) and turns him completely insane.  The idea that Drake’s whole life is shattered essentially by Batman is a core theme to the Batman series and worth exploring even more than this film did…is Batman a corruptive force or savior?

The film brings the cast of Batman Beyond together for the movie which includes Will Friedle (Terry), Kevin Conroy (Bruce), Angie Harmon (Gordon), and Teri Garr (Mary McGinnis) but also Batman:  The Animated Series voice actors like Arleen Sorkin (Harley Quinn) and Mathew Valencia (Tim Drake).  The series smartly brings back Mark Hamill as the Joker but also raises the red-herring level by having him voice Jordan Price as well.  Other voice actors include Dean Stockwell (old Tim Drake), Melissa Joan Hart, Michael Rosenbaum, Rachael Leigh Cook, and Henry Rollins.

The truth?!?! You can’t handle the truth!

Batman Beyond’s animation is probably love it or hate it.  The movie does make references to Darwyn Cooke’s great opening for the TV series with some dancing scenes, but I rather wish that the whole movie had been done in Darwyn’s art style since I love the opening of the TV series so much.  I do love the flashback art which does echo the art of Batman:  The Animated Series more than Batman Beyond.

Batman Beyond:  Return of the Joker is a worthwhile venture for those who enjoyed Batman Beyond but also good for those who just like comic book movies.  You don’t particularly need to know about Batman Beyond (but it does enhance the viewing) to watch and enjoy this film and probably will like it better than the series since it isn’t entirely set in the future.  Give this movie a chance and enjoy a fun comic adventure!

Related Links:

Batman Beyond—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Batman Beyond—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Batman Beyond—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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