What DC can learn from the masterpiece that is “Mask of the Phantasm”

batman phantasm dceu.jpgImage via Warner Bros

After finishing Stranger Things, I felt I was out of things to watch until television series start picking back up over the next couple of weeks.  So, I had the grand idea to re-watch Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the 1993 animated feature based off the animated series.  I hadn’t seen the film in its entirety since I was six or seven years old, picking up parts of it on television every now and then.  Having seen the film again, I concluded that not only it is a masterpiece, but that DC and Warner Bros can take some ideas and apply it to their upcoming films, especially those involving Batman.

***Spoilers for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm ahead.***

Handling Batman’s One Bad Day

batman dceu grave.jpgImage via Warner Bros

One of the most understood criticism’s of Batman’s first appearance in the DCEU is that it gives us a third retelling of the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne.  Granted, the death of Bruce’s parents are his single biggest motivator (a part of the character I felt was missing from The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises), but Mask of the Phantasm is able to show the emotional gravity Bruce still feels from their death in the perfect way.  He visits their grave, and often looks to their portrait for advice.  All of this, and we don’t see their murder in Crime Alley.  Mask of the Phantasm handles Bruce’s parent’s death in a way that DC should recreate.  No flashbacks, no back story, and no Martha from this point on, but we do know that it is still the driving force behind why Batman puts on the cowl (we might see another reason in the DCEU, which seems more likely to me honestly, which is the death of Robin, but I think they should still have references to the dead Waynes).

The Joker is pretty much perfect in this film

the joker phantasm dceuImage via Warner Bros

Mark Hamill’s iteration of the Joker always seems to be perfect, but his characterization in this film stands above most of the character’s other outings.  The reason is simple: Mask of the Phantasm boils down the Joker to his core concept, and that is mayhem.  Joker has no agenda in this film. His goal, as always, is to get Batman.  But everything he does is perfect, using the Future of the City as his base of operations is classic Joker vs. Batman.  Everyone likes to think that Batman is the only one equipped to deal with things when they do not go his way; Joker proves that to be wrong, especially in this film.  Of course, rigging the place to blow is classic Joker, but it goes to show that he isn’t some laughing crazy person; he is a laughing crazy person with a plan, which is how the Joker should be characterized.

It Sets the bar for original storytelling in comic book adaptations

phantasm batman joker dceu.jpgImage via Warner Bros

You’re probably right that I should consider this more of a spin-off of a television series than a comic book adaptation, but I’m not going to let that bother me.  Mask of the Phantasm is a completely original story written specifically for the screen.  Even the character of Andrea Beaumont/Phantasm was created for this movie.  DC has shown us that a story doesn’t need to adhere to the comics or even draw inspiration from the comics to create good stories (see: Harley Quinn).  With The Batman rumored to be an original story written by Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns, they could take some cues from the writers of this film.  While I do not think there will be any original characters in the DCEU anytime soon, this story shows that a successful comic book adaptation needs no basis in comic books.

It shows the struggle between Batman and Bruce Wayne

batman mask of the phantasm dceuImage via Warner Bros

I already touched on this a little bit, but I will expand here.  Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t do it, most likely because the film was already overstuffed and Bruce Wayne’s life isn’t important to the plot of that movie.  Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy attempted to do it, but either there was not enough of it in The Dark Knight or too much moping in The Dark Knight Rises.  Mask of the Phantasm shows us a struggle that Batman has to go through- take up a normal life with Andrea, or keep the vow he made to his parents.  This helps to humanize Batman to audiences.  We kind of saw it with Superman already in the DCEU, so why not with Batman.  We do not need a lot of it, but enough for audiences to think that he isn’t just Batman, but also Bruce Wayne (which honestly I find unlikely, especially after the mid-credits scene in Suicide Squad).  

Well, those are my thoughts on Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.  It really sets the bar high for DC animated movies and superhero movies in general.

What are your thoughts on Mask of the Phantasm? Let me know in the comments!

Why Batman Killing is Important

ben-affleck-batman.jpgImage via Warner Bros

By now, you’ve probably seen the video that shows Batman killing 21 people in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, or, you noticed the level of aggression that Ben Affleck’s Batman had when you watched the film yourself.  Batman never kills, or so we are told.  But Batman killing this many people in Batman v Superman is not only important for the arc of the character, but it informs us of some things that we should expect in Justice League and future DC Extended Universe films featuring Batfleck.  Spoilers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition are contained in this post.

This isn’t you grandfather’s Batman


The DCEU offers us a more modern version of the classic DC characters that we all know and love.  The visual style shows a maturity that previous adaptations of the characters have not had- such as Superman’s new suit lacking underwear over it and toning down the color saturation on Wonder Woman’s costume.  Not only is the visual style more mature, but so are the characters themselves.  As you can see above, we’ve come along way from Adam West holding a bowling-ball-with-a-wick type bomb and running around panicking with it.  Two films in, and the threats in the DCEU are the biggest we’ve seen in any DC movie, and they’re only going to get bigger.  So what Batman never killed in the comics? This isn’t the comics, and Batman killing is the perfect way to tell audiences that it’s a different story being told on screen.

We may know what drove Batman to kill

batman killing robin deathImage via Warner Bros

Of course you remember the Robin costume with graffiti over it from inside the Batcave in Batman v Superman.   This has led to many theories of who Robin could have been, and after months of speculating, we know it is Jason Todd, who is deceased (some rumors and fan theories have suggested we may find out more about this through Jared Leto in Suicide Squad).  Perhaps the death of his trusted sidekick drove him over the edge.  We know that Affleck isn’t an idealized version of Batman who is going to do the right thing in every situation; he’s been around the block a few times, and he knows what’s up.  He is a more broken down, desperate Batman, which could lead to him killing.  Maybe all of those years of doing the ‘right thing’ and sparing the lives of Gotham’s worst only led to the death of Jason Todd, and Batman turns to killing, as he sees it is the only way to make change permanent in Gotham.

The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition shows us more of this grizzled Batman

clark kent batman superman deathImage via Warner Bros

Batman v Superman did a good job by mostly skipping Batman’s familiar backstory; what we could have used instead was a little bit more behind Batfleck, such as his motivations.  Luckily, the Ultimate Edition of the film gives us a little bit of insight into this.  While Clark is supposed to be investigating football in Gotham, he is at an apartment where he runs into some residents of Gotham, who tell him firsthand how brutal Batman has become, warning Clark to leave the city before dark.  It is clear that Batman is tired, which could be one of the reasons he kills.

Clearly, Batman has a lot on his mind, and he also kills.  It will definitely be interesting to see where this updated, darker, older, and more desperate version of Batman goes in the next few films.

What do you think of DC’s choice to have Batman be a killer in the DCEU? Let me know in the comments!


Commissioner Gordon to be more similar to comics in ‘Justice League’

James_Gordon.jpgImage via Warner Bros.

Rumor has it that Commissioner Gordon and Batman will have a relationship more similar to that of their comic book relationship in Justice League, according to JK Simmons, who will be playing the character opposite Ben Affleck in the movie. This is good news for Batman fans everywhere.

We all know and love Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, where he rose up from being one of the few honest cops in Gotham to leading their police department.  His version of Gordon didn’t have the same relationship with Batman as they did in the comics, but do not fear, JK Simmons is here to change that.

In many comic stories, Gordon is a man who stands with Batman when the time calls for it.  The two are close allies.  In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, we saw a Batman that had been around the block a couple of times- here’s hoping that Gordon has been around that block with him.

Having their relationship be similar to that in the comics opens some more doors as to where the DCEU could go with this.  My mind instantly gravitates toward The Killing Joke, where the Joker tries to get to Batman by driving Commissioner Gordon insane.  The Killing Joke is too short of a story to make an entire Batman movie out of, but I could definitely see them using parts of the story as inspiration in a future Batman movie.

What else is interesting is that Warner Bros. isn’t exactly shooting for realism in their extended universe, like their rivals Marvel.  The realism that attempts to be present in Marvel films has no place in the DCEU, which has at times felt like a hyper-reality, especially in Batman v Superman.  The films also seem to have a visual style similar to the DC Animated Universe, which I am a huge fan of, mostly because it fills me up with nostalgia every time I see colors or textures that I saw in the DC television shows growing up.

In summation, more adherence to the comic books is good for the DCEU, especially in terms of the relationships between characters.  I think that JK Simmon’s true potential as Jim Gordon will be seen not in Justice League, but in The Batman, where they can truly explore the complex relationship between the two characters.

What do you think of JK Simmons statement? Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing? Let me know in the comments!

Review: ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition’ and ‘Justice League’ Expectations

maxresdefault (6)Image via Warner Bros.

Remember when you walked out of the theater after seeing this movie the first time?  If you were like me, you thought there were good parts of it but overall, the film was completely lackluster due to no clear direction and a very convoluted plot.  The Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice does nothing to clear those two previous issues up, but does add some scenes that clear up some of the problems.  No spoilers ahead.

What happens here in the Ultimate Edition is addition; nothing major is added, but there is enough.  If you could follow the plot of the regular cut of the film, then you will have no problem following this one along.  Characters get added backstories, and there is a pretty good twist at the end, which I almost had to double-take at.  The Ultimate Edition does not fix the failures of its predecessor, although it is undoubtedly better.  It also does a much better job of showing us the future of the DCEU, adding in a scene towards the end that signals the arrival of a villain who will be a major player in the upcoming Justice League films.

We actually know quite a bit about the Justice League films, with Part One slated to come out next year.  Like Batman v Superman, it is being directed by Zack Snyder.   We will get a chance to see Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman in action.  I’m calling it now, Justice League will be better than the first Avengers movie.  You might say I’m full of hot air,  but hear me out.  Stop reading here if you want to avoid a spoiler-ish piece of information(not technically a spoiler since DC released the clip earlier this year, but if you didn’t know, don’t say I didn’t warn you).

What DC has over Marvel, even in the early stages of its shared universe are its villains.  DC has such great villains that they have a whole movie centered around them in Suicide Squad; could you imagine a Marvel supervillain- centered film?  I just image a room with Ronan the Accuser, Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, Malekith, The Mandarin/ Trevor Slattery, and Ultron arguing for two hours about their motivations.  DC has decided that the villain in Justice League will be Darkseid, who is a better villain than the Other and the faceless CGI army in The Avengers.  DC has also shown characters sharing the screen leading up to Justice League. Marvel didn’t have any of their main heroes share a screen until their team up in The Avengers.  Zack Snyder fit too much into Batman v Superman which was hopefully setting things up for his next DCEU entry, so he should be able to hit the ground running in terms of kicking off the plot in Justice League.  Mark my words, Justice League will be better than The Avengers, and remember, you heard it from me first.

What did you think of the Ultimate Edition? Do you think I’m a moron for what I’ve predicted about Justice League? Let me know in the comments.