Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, one of the most beloved stories in the history of the Dark Knight, is finally getting a proper Blu-ray release. Long hailed as a crowning achievement in Batman’s storied history, Mask of the Phantasm (an extension of the much beloved Batman: The Animated Series) tells the tale of a mysterious, reaper-like new villain, the Phantasm, who is systematically killing off a select group of Gotham’s mob. Batman is tasked with stopping the Phantasm and attempting to ascertain their motives. At the same time, a figure from Bruce Wayne’s past, Andrea Beaumont, returns to Gotham, leading to Bruce reminiscing on their romance and its direct effect on his origins as Batman.
It’s a refreshing use of flashbacks to show us Batman’s origin from a new angle, concentrating on a portion of his life that is generally ignored by the comics and movies – his days as a young man who hasn’t quite made the leap into full on vigilantism. That the flashbacks end up dovetailing with the modern day Phantasm plot in shocking, tragic ways makes Mask of the Phantasm not just a great animated movie, but one of the best Batman movies, period. One could make a decent argument that Batman Begins indirectly owes a bit to Mask of the Phantasm’s elegant storytelling structure.
Announced by Warner Archive Collection via Facebook and Twitter, the film is getting a full 1080p HD remaster next month and will be presented in both its original theatrical 16×9 aspect ratio and open matte 4×3. No word yet on extras beyond the theatrical trailer.
Mask of the Phantasm features a cavalcade of legendary voice talent, including the long serving Batman brooding of Kevin Conroy, a turn by Dana Delany as Andrea Beaumont so impressive that the producers signed her as Lois Lane for the proceeding Superman animated series, and, of course, Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, in quite possibly his best, most terrifying turn as the Joker.
It has long been a curiosity that such a beloved film has only ever received sporadic, perfunctory releases, and by the time the movie was released on a bare bones DVD over a decade ago, the transfer was very noticeably not up to the rigors of the high definition age. The prospect of seeing the beautiful, revolutionary animation style of Batman: The Animated Series in all its remastered glory will be a lovely gift to tide over Batfans until director Matt Reeves finishes up his War for the Planet of the Apes duties and gets started on The Batman. Reeves matching the brilliance of Mask of the Phantasm would be a genuine achievement.
Source: Warner Archive Collection