Is This the Best Batman Movie?

People love Dark Knight and Batman 89, but has the best Batman movie slipped under our radar? Nostalgia Critic takes a look at Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

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About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.


  1. This!

    Yeah, I liked Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, but to me they didn’t really stand out as Batman movies. Same said for Tim Burton, who was closer in style but still a long shot being on the definition of the character.

    The best Batman, and general superhero adaptations are always gonna be in animation and video games, as they are much closer to the source material in more ways than one, plus there’s a lot more to get away with than on Camara.

  2. Personally, I think Under the Red Hood is a little better.

    • I remember when I showed that movie to a group of friends who weren’t too much into comic or animation. By the time of the credits, they stood silent until one of them said “this is the best movie I’ve ever seen”.

  3. Probably off topic, but does anyone know the name of the music NC used in the background? I don’t know why, but it was amazing and I need to listen it at its full.

  4. MountCDOSgamer

    The fact that this was an animated film not made by Disney was my exact thought as to why this film wasn’t as big a hit as it deserved.

    I remember watching this film when I was a kid and being absolutely terrified by the scene when the attorney was having an uncontrollable fit of laughter because of the joker gas. That goes to show the power of the phycological horror in Batman: The Animated Series. I’m still horrified by the flash-back scene in Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker when Tim Drake was revealed to have been turned into a mini-me joker!

  5. Mark Hamill actually did take his family out to see this during its theatrical run. The attendance was sparse, but those who were there had the fortune of chatting with Mark.

  6. I’d say most of the animated films beat out the live action in terms of being closer to batman, but this is definitely at the top. It also holds the distinction of being the only animated theatrical release of batman (to my knowledge). That animated series was lightning in a bottle. I don’t know how it managed to be that good, though it was the crowning glory of what was already WB animated’s hayday. I’m not saying the live action movies were bad, but Doug was right. They were people trying to say something through batman, not people trying to portray batman. Still good movies but for Batman in his glory, animation wins every time.

  7. mmmm I don’t know, I think Joker’s laugh at the end of the flashback in “Batman Beyond Return of the Joker” was much bigger, crazier, and honestly a hell of a lot creepier than that laugh you showed. the one in Return of the Joker was long and started off slower and quieter and it just kept building and growing into this insane frenzy of psychopathic hysteria. This one just sounded like a usual “Big Joker laugh” only with an epic chorus behind it.

  8. Everybody knows that the best batman movie is the Adam West one.

  9. I’ve been saying for years Phantasm was the best Batman movie. And Kevin Conroy is the best Batman. And Mark Hamil is the best Joker. (Come at me, Ledger Bros!)

  10. Old vs New is returning! But wait, why Cinderella? I thought Doug Walker hated the new one. That alone should give the old one a win.

  11. I personally prefer the uncut version of Batman Beyond – Return of the Joker, but this one looks pretty cool too. 🙂

  12. This may be the wrong crowd to announce that no one remembers Mask of the Phantasm in, lol, but I’m here to throw my hat in with the rest of the lot. This is my Batman. I can’t remember the first time I saw this movie. I was 3 when it came out. I’m pretty sure we saw it in theaters as a famiky, my father loved all things batman, and my 2 year old brother and I were already cutting our teeth on the animate series. I do know that throughout my entire childhood both my parents and my grandmother had a vhs of this film on hand. I must have watched it a thousand times. As a child it was just so cool, and I knew it meant something that I couldn’t quite articulate. I felt, rather than understood the tragedy of Bruce losing the woman he loved to to same demons that plagued him. I wasn’t terrified of and enamored with the Joker. I was scared, I laughed and I knew that the movie wasn’t talking down to me, it felt very adult, like it didn’t really need to me to understand all the nuances it was giving me as long as I could feel the weight of what the characters were going through. I think it was one of the first movies to really present me with hard moral questions, where’s the libe, why is what one character does ik, and another not, is revenge and murder really that bad when so much has been taken. And even if we can say it’s objectively wrong, how wrong does it really feel when you feel the pain of the one who is taking revenge. We have Batman sacrificing so much for the sake of his personal code, and we see his adversary sacrifice their happiness for revenge they feel is fundamentally necessary, even as a child that felt unfair and sad. Now as an adult I appreciate so much more from the film, all the things mentioned in the review, as well as a few laughs at my own expense for what went over my head. I especially appreciate the old school cut to a curtain that has long symbolized sex in classic cinema, totally didn’t catch thatv at age 3. To close, I would like to go back to the idea that no one remembers this film, with a brief story. My partner and I have been together for 5 happy years, for much of it we were long distance and the only way we could connect was through shared interests. One of the first things we connected over was Batman, and the happy accident that we had the strongest feelings for the same 2 films from our respective childhoods. Mask of the Phantasm, and Batman Forever. Kiss from a Rose has been our song since the weekend I traveled 5 hours just to sit on the couch and watch a movie with him, I saw Batman Forever on his shelf and freaked out, he was a little embarrassed until he realized it was one of my all time guilty pleasure (not even guilty, a movie doesn’t have to be good to be fun) movies as well. We then had many a debate over our favorite Batman, as well as what we considered the best Batman, and for the title of best Mask of the Phantasm has always been what we concluded. It would be no exaggeration to say that the best thing in my life is built on a foundation of Batman, and no I don’t think that’s shallow when for much of my generation it’s so formative, and Mask of the Phantasm (and our shared love an appreciation for it) is part of how I knew this person was cut from my same cloth. This movie means so much to me on so many levels throughout my life. It’s more than any other Batman movie could ever be, at least to me, favorite is meaningless at this point, fundamental is as close as I can think of at the moment.

  13. Consider Hamill? Hamill is the Joker.


    Doug claims that when people look to the best Batman movie, Batman (1989) & The Dark Knight are the one and only ones but what about Batman Begins. Truth be told that was like the best Batman movie ever until Dark Knight came and don’t get me wrong I like the 1989 movie too and Mask of the Phantasm too.

  15. The reason nobody knows about MotF is because releasing it in theaters was an afterthought.

    It was supposed to be a direct-to-video episode of The Batman TAS. The decision to bump it up to theaters was made by Warner Bros right before the animation process started. They had to reformat and rethink the storyboards which were already finished with the 4:3 TV ratio to fit the theater screen. They had less than a year of production time and a strict budget. They hadn’t even lined up the better overseas animation company TMS (ex BTAS Feat of Clay part 2). The fact that it came out so damn well is a testament to how good the BTAS crew was.

    Also, it had a short theater run and a Christmas(93) launch.

    So, no, it wasn’t snubbed. It just wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place and by the time the word got out, it was already gone.

    Modern Masters Volume Three : Bruce Timm
    Batman Animated (Production Art Book)

  16. Why is this not on blu ray yet? i still have the VHS copy and have been holding out on upgrading until then. Might just have to get the DVD.

  17. Yknow. Batman subzero was also supposed to be in theatres, but when batman and Robin tanked, it got shelved.. I’d love to see an NC look at that film. Honestly I think it gets less attention than Phantasm from fans, and it really is a solid picture. Or maybe DC video film vlogs?

  18. “Consider Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil in a discussion on best Batman and Joker.” Yeah, most of the internet is way ahead of you.

  19. Okay, this one really makes me want to watch do the Vessel thing just so I can see that Old vs New early, that will be awesome!

  20. This movie is great, one of the greatest Batman movies ever. But, I’ll be honest, Under the Red Hood is still my favorite. I enjoyed the emotional confrontation between Batman and Red Hood a lot more, it felt so deep and complex. It was a tug in the heartstrings, specially the ending.

  21. Blaze The Movie Fan

    I really need to see this movie.

  22. “I didn’t count on being happy” is my favorite line in the movie, it sums up Batman’s character pretty well for me.

  23. Ogre Samanosuke

    I’ve always been of the mind when someone asked my favorite incarnation of Batman or the Joker I’d say Conroy and Hamill. I still watch The Animated Series every few years, cause it was one of the best cartoons ever made. Conroy being hired for Arkham Asylum was pretty much the main reason I decided to give those games a shot, because I desperately wanted to see Conroy and Hamill playing off each other again. And barring the stupid final boss encounter, it went fabulously.

  24. With all this talk about Batman, I’ve always wonder if Doug ever played the Arkham games?

  25. Mask of the Phantasm is definitely the best Batman movie of them all, Kevin Conroy’s Batman & Mark Hamill’s Joker for the win! And gotta love the Phantasm, such a spooky & mysterious character >:3

  26. Zoey Posthuman

    The other two Batman TAS movies are also pretty damn good, and the Batman Beyond movie (the uncensored version) is incredible.

  27. Don’t worry, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil has always been my favorites in those roles 😛

  28. ILuvGundam2001

    Please review Gundam SEED Destiny, lots of Gundam fans hate it but I like it and I actually watched through the whole series. So, I would like your thoughts on it.

  29. This is a very awesome one
    Dark Knight sucks
    In the dark knight the part is The Joker

  30. Awesome that you did a review on this movie…it was the first Batman movie I saw as a kid and I was so lucky to own it on VHS. Definitely the most accurate representation of “Batman.”

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