What do you get when a simple farm boy from Tatooine decides to do cartoons? You get one of the best arch-nemisis Batman has ever faced. In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker Mark Hamill again reprises his role as the voice of The Joker, Batman's most fearsome foe. Only now Batman is an old man and is mentor to the new Batman, Terry McGinnis. Will McGinnis be able to stop Batman's most fearsome foe?
Its a shame that the live action Batman movies have been unable to achieve the kind of quality that Batman: The Animated Series, and subsequently the first Batman Animate movie: Mask of the Phantasm brought to the screen. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker carries this animated tradition admirably as it tells the story of what really happened to the Joker. Strangely enough... or perhaps not so strangely, the highlights of the film are flashbacks featuring the original Batman and Robin, and the Hobbit was left wanting more of these. Batman Beyond is a good series as far as cartoons go, but somehow in this Hobbit's eyes McGinnis just doesn't have the chops that the good ole Dark Knight has.
Early reports indicated that this film recieved massive editing strokes just before release in order to tone it down for younger viewers... the fear was that the film would suffer. But there was little evidence that much of importance was lacking, in fact the film is quite enjoyable, and might have done well in your neighborhood theatre, had it not been put straight to video.
The real star of Return of the Joker though, is of course Joker himself, and by extension, his voice, Mark Hamill. Who would have thought that Luke Skywalker could make such an admirable Joker? In the entire history of Batman, no one has so captured the sick, twisted, and ultimately silly nature of the Joker. Hamill truly deserves an award for what he has done here folks, heck he deserves one for each and every Batman animated episode and film he has appeared in. Its sad to see such great work long go unnoticed.
If nothing else, rent Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker to listen to Hamill in action. Avid Batman fans will delight at the questions this film answers, and the average guy on the street gets a well crafted film. Farm boy or no... its good to see the Joker back in action.