Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Movie Poster Image
Tamer than live-action, but still moody, violent.
  • PG
  • 2008
  • 74 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 22 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Batman never kills and seems to act noble and suitably heroic. Though his quest for justice suggests that being a vigilante has ruined Bruce Wayne's personal life, his righteous motivations and crimefighting are contrasted with the much bleaker personal vengeance mission of the Phantasm. Andrea is a particularly strong female character. Gangsters are of stereotypically Italian-American descent, and Gotham City businessmen, police, and government officials are mob-connected or threatening.

Violence

Much fighting, gunshots, and explosions. Some blood and dead bodies shown.

Sex

Just a hint that Bruce Wayne and Andrea have spent the night together.

Language
Consumerism

Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking; Bruce Wayne gets wine tossed on him at a party by an ex-girlfriend.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a more mature Batman cartoon than the ones they might remember from their Saturday morning-TV childhoods. There is real death (including a parent), much violence -- even if it's animated -- involving explosions, guns, knives, etc. There's even some unsettling imagery involving corpses and the Joker that may upset the youngest kids. Anyone unfamiliar with the Batman saga might have some trouble following the story.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJohn Fode October 22, 2012

It's rated PG, but should have been rated PG-13

I myself saw this movie when I was 6 years old (19 years ago), and I found it at the time to be a little scary, and even a little somber; it was just too much t... Continue reading
Adult Written byTinyToya July 29, 2011

The Phantasm, The Joker, and a Dark Undertone Are Scary but Make for An Exceptional Batman Thriller

This movie is one I just recently watched again and I still love it . Yes, the Joker and his Laughing Gas are very freaky (a man with a smile quite horridly str... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old January 16, 2011

A true masterpiece so watch it

A complete masterpiece, however it is very frightening.
Teen, 14 years old Written bymkalv February 1, 2009

Sorry, Bats.

As the first animated Batman film to be released theatriclly, it's a lttle diisapointing. I don't know why, I just don't like this film.

What's the story?

Though released to theaters, BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM was produced as a feature-length pilot to Batman: The Animated Series on TV. It fills out some Bat-lore about the character's early career. As college-age orphan millionaire Bruce Wayne starts out uncertainly in his personal crime-fighting crusade, initially dressed in sort of a ninja suit. When he falls in love with a smart co-ed named Andrea (who can do martial arts just as well as he), Bruce considers giving up the superhero thing altogether for marriage and a normal life. We see this in flashback; in the present, Bruce has become the legendary Batman, and he learns the long-lost Andrea is revisiting Gotham City. At the same time, another black-caped, costumed avenger is killing local mobsters, and Batman is getting unfairly blamed by both police and the homicidal Joker.

Is it any good?

It's easy to deduce the identity of the mysterious "Phantasm" -- Batman doesn't earn points here as a great detective; the real surprise is how the characters draw you into this so-so storyline. Watching Bruce Wayne brooding over thwarted romance and the choices he made is genuinely moving. This is definitely economy-style animation, but it's rendered with a nicely nostalgic Art Deco look. It works well in the exciting showdown in the Joker's lair at the dystopian ruins of the Gotham City World's Fair. And, while overshadowed by a flock of spectacular, live-action Batman movies, Mask of the Phantasm possesses an emotional nuance missing from the megabudget Bat-epics. Yes, that's Lucasfilm hero Mark Hamill, reportedly an actor who takes comics with great seriousness, relishing his unrecognizable voiceover as the Joker.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the style and storyline. Is an animated Batman more effective than an actor in a live-action epic? Do you like a Batman with personal problems or a basic high-tech crimebuster? You can also discuss Bruce Wayne's single-minded devotion to his mission. Is he doing the right thing? Is Batman a vigilante? How did kids like Mark Hamill's Joker, and who is their favorite version of this classic bad guy?

Movie details

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