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Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
Promotional poster
Directed byCurt Geda
Screenplay byPaul Dini
Story by
Based onDC Comics characters
Produced by
Edited byJoe Gall
Music byKristopher Carter
Distributed byWarner Home Video
Release dates
  • December 12, 2000 (2000-12-12)
(unrated television version)
  • April 23, 2002 (2002-04-23)
(PG-13 "theatrical" version)
Running time
  • 73 minutes (unrated television version)
  • 76 minutes (PG-13 "theatrical" version)
CountryUnited States

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is a 2000 American direct-to-video superhero film produced by Warner Bros. Animation and distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. It is the third film in the DC Animated Universe and is based on the animated series Batman Beyond while also serving as a continuation of and resolving plot points from Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. The film features the DC Comics superheroes Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Terry McGinnis (Will Friedle), as they try to unravel the mysterious return of the former's archenemy, the Joker (Mark Hamill), preparing a climatic showdown with the villain.

The film was heavily censored following the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and Warner Bros.'s objection to its content, causing its release to be delayed from Halloween 2000 to December 12, 2000. Subsequently, an uncut version was released on DVD on April 23, 2002.

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A new faction of the Jokerz gang—consisting of Bonk, Woof, Ghoul, Chucko, and the Dee-Dee twins—attempts to steal high-tech electronic equipment but are intercepted by Batman (Terry McGinnis), the protégé of the original Batman, Bruce Wayne. The gang reports back to their leader, revealed to be the Joker, Bruce's arch-nemesis who has been presumed dead for decades. The Joker kills Bonk for his defiance and to intimidate the other members.

Later, the Jokerz attack a press conference commemorating Bruce's return to Wayne Enterprises and the Joker reveals himself to Bruce, who insists that it cannot be him. After fending off the attack, Terry demands information from Bruce and police commissioner Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl, but neither gives him answers. Not wanting Terry to face the Joker, Bruce orders him to return the Batsuit so he can investigate the Joker on his own despite the limitations of his age. However, the Jokerz attack Terry, nearly killing his girlfriend Dana Tan, while the Joker poisons Bruce and his Great Dane, Ace — revealing that he knows Bruce was Batman and Terry is his successor.

After Terry saves Bruce's life with an antidote, Barbara finally explains the Joker's disappearance: four decades ago, after Nightwing (Dick Grayson) left Gotham City for Blüdhaven, the Joker and Harley Quinn kidnapped his successor Tim Drake, then Robin, while he was on patrol, torturing and brainwashing him for three weeks at the abandoned Arkham Asylum, learning Batman's secret identity, and turning him into a miniature version of the Joker. After Batman and Batgirl find Tim, a battle ensues, during which Tim briefly comes to his senses and kills the Joker with his own gun, while Harley falls down a ravine and is presumed dead. Over the next year, Tim recovered with help from Wayne family friend Leslie Thompkins, was forced to retire from superheroics, and severed ties with Bruce, leaving to make it on his own in life.

Terry visits Tim, now a successful telecommunications engineer with a family, who voices bitterness towards his past but denies involvement in the Joker's return. Terry's next suspect is Jordan Pryce, a Wayne Enterprises executive who hates Bruce for ruining his chance to take over the company. He ultimately finds that Pryce is not the Joker, but had conspired with him in an attempt to kill Bruce. When a directed-energy weapon strikes Pryce's yacht, Terry rescues him before turning him in to the police. In the Batcave, after realizing the Joker only destroyed the Robin costume, Terry recalls Tim's grudge against his old persona and deduces he must be involved. Cross-referencing Tim's expertise as an engineer with the Jokerz' thefts, Terry and Bruce discover that their stolen equipment can create a jamming system to seize control of a laser-armed military satellite.

When Terry goes to face Tim in his workplace, he triggers a trap set by the Joker, who he follows to an abandoned candy factory. Subduing the Jokerz with Ace's help, Terry confronts Tim, who subdues Terry by disabling his Batsuit and then physically transforms into the Joker. He explains that he previously encoded a copy of his consciousness into a microchip hidden behind Tim's ear, allowing him to survive death by overtaking Tim's body and intending to do so permanently. With the satellite, the Joker plans to kill Bruce and Terry's loved ones before destroying Gotham City. As they battle, Terry uses one of the Joker's joy buzzers to destroy both the weapon and the microchip, killing him. Terry, Tim, and Ace escape as the satellite destroys the Joker's lair.

Following the Jokerz' arrests, Barbara hides Tim's unwitting involvement to protect him, while the Joker is declared dead and the Dee-Dee twins are bailed out by their grandmother, an elderly and reformed Harley Quinn. Bruce makes amends with Tim and Barbara while Tim recovers in the hospital, during which he and Bruce acknowledge Terry as worthy to carry the Batman mantle.

Voice cast


The Joker's death in the unedited version of the film (top) compared to his death in the edited version (bottom)

The film was initially put into production after the cancellation of Boyd Kirkland's Batman: Arkham, the intended sequel to Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero.[1] When Bruce Timm and Glen Murakami were given the greenlight to produce a Batman Beyond feature-length film, they decided to use the extra time to answer questions pertaining to the time period between Beyond and Batman: The Animated Series.[2]

The animation was outsourced to TMS Entertainment in Japan.[3][4] It is also the first Batman direct-to-video animated film to use digital ink and paint.

Dwayne McDuffie, writer for the DCAU series Static Shock, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, stated that the events of the flashback sequence in the film take place at the end of the present-day timeline of the DCAU, following the end of Justice League Unlimited but prior to the start of Batman Beyond. [5]


Return of the Joker was originally set for release on Halloween 2000, but following the backlash against violence in children's media that resulted from the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, and general apprehension by the higher-ups at WB over the film's content, the creative team was forced to make edits that delayed its release to December 12, 2000.[6]

The most dramatic change was the method of the Joker's death; in the original cut of the film, he is impaled by a flag shot out of a handgun by Tim Drake; in the re-edit, he is electrocuted after becoming tangled in water tubing. Nearly two years after the film's initial release, and following online petitions, Warner Home Video released an uncut and unaltered version of Return of the Joker, with more violence and some altered language, as well as the Joker's original death scene.[7][8]

While the 2000 release was not rated, the uncut version was the first animated Batman film to receive a PG-13 rating from the Motion Picture Association,[7] as well as the only PG-13 rated film to be released under Warner Bros' now-defunct Family Entertainment label.

The uncut version was released on Blu-ray on April 5, 2011.


A comic adaptation of the film was released in February 2001, drawn by Craig Rousseau. The page depicting the Joker's death had to be redone in accordance with the edits made to the film.[9] A tie-in video game was released in 2000 for Game Boy Color,[10] PlayStation,[11] and Nintendo 64.[12] Scholastic released a novelization of the film, penned by Michael Teitelbaum, on October 1, 2000.[13]


Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedOctober 17, 2000
LabelRhino Records
Professional ratings
Review scores

Released on October 17, 2000, the soundtrack to Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker contains music composed by Kristopher Carter, as well as two tracks of music featured in the direct-to-video film.

All tracks are written by Kristopher Carter

1."Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Main Title)"Kristopher Carter02:10
2."Industrial Heist"Kristopher Carter03:48
3."Meet the Joker"Kristopher Carter02:47
4."Joker Crashes Bruce's Party"Kristopher Carter01:19
5."Terry Relieved of Duty"Kristopher Carter01:54
6."Nightclub Fight / Terry Rescues Bruce"Kristopher Carter04:39
7."A Trap for Tim"Kristopher Carter01:26
8."Joker Family Portrait"Kristopher Carter02:05
9."Arkham Mayhem"Kristopher Carter03:31
10."Batman Defeats the Jokerz"Kristopher Carter01:36
11."Joker Meets His End (Again)"Kristopher Carter04:21
12."Healing Old Wounds"Kristopher Carter02:03
13."Crash (The Humble Brothers Remix)"Mephisto Odyssey (feat. Static-X)03:26
14."Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (End Title)"Kenny Wayne Shepherd03:02
Total length:38:13

Critical reception

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 100% of 10 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8/10. The website's consensus reads: "This feature length entry in the Batman Beyond mythos sends off the Mark Hamill-voiced Joker in thrilling fashion, hitting the same caped crusading peaks of the original series."[15]

Nisha Gopalan of Entertainment Weekly praised the uncut version of the film, in particular how it "sheds light on the dark, obsessive relationship between the villain and his vigilante counterpart."[16] Gerry Shamray of Sun Newspapers said that Return of the Joker "would have made a great live-action Batman movie."[17] Ryan Cracknell of Apollo Guide called the film "an animated masterpiece."[18]

Peter Canavese of Groucho Reviews called it an "energetic and unsettling Batman adventure," adding that it "provides a memorable showcase for Hamill's celebrated take on the Joker, and allows both McGinnis and Wayne to see action and face emotional challenges."[19] Michael Stailey of DVD Verdict gave the uncut version a score of 92 out of 100, calling it "a taut, high-impact film" and "a must-buy to Bat-fans and animation lovers alike."[20]

Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons had a mixed response when reviewing the uncut version, saying that "the script is pretty solid, the animation superb, and the voice performances all work well," but added that "the Terry character's personal scenes aren't anywhere near as engaging [as the scenes featuring the Joker or Bruce Wayne], and the investigative subplot doesn't work as well as it should."[21] Jeremy Conrad of IGN gave the uncut version a score of nine out of 10 for the movie itself, six out of 10 each for video and audio, and eight out of 10 for extras, adding up to an overall score of seven out of 10.[7]


Award Category Subject Result
Annie Award Best Animated Home Entertainment Production Won
Directing in a Feature Production Curt Geda Nominated
Writing in a Feature Production Paul Dini, Glen Murakami, and Bruce Timm Nominated
Voice Acting in a Feature Production Mark Hamill Nominated
DVD Exclusive Award Best Animated Character Performance Won


  1. ^ "Backstage - Rejected/Unproduced Series & Movie Pitches". The World's Finest. Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  2. ^ Dini, Paul (4 February 2021). Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, The Official Screenplay. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill Publications. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-8230-7717-5. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  3. ^ "The world's Finest - Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker". Archived from the original on 2021-05-13. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  4. ^ "The world's Finest - Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker". Archived from the original on 2022-03-06. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  5. ^ Stephanie (November 1, 2005). "Delphi Forums". Archived from the original on November 2, 2022. Retrieved November 1, 2022.
  6. ^ "The Animated Batman Beyond Movie Had to be Re-Cut from PG-13 to G". 29 June 2022. Archived from the original on 23 January 2024. Retrieved 23 January 2024.
  7. ^ a b c Conrad, Jeremy (23 April 2002). "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Uncut)". IGN. Archived from the original on 24 December 2020. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  8. ^ Meenan, Devin (14 July 2020). "10 Differences Between The Censored & Uncut Versions Of Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on 11 December 2020. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  9. ^ "Backstage - ROTJ Adaptation". The World's Finest. Archived from the original on 19 June 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  10. ^ "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker Release Information for Game Boy Color". GameFAQs. Archived from the original on 2018-07-26. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  11. ^ "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker Release Information for PlayStation". GameFAQs. Archived from the original on 2018-05-01. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  12. ^ "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker Release Information for Nintendo 64". GameFAQs. Archived from the original on 2018-07-26. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  13. ^ "Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker by Michael Teitelbaum". Goodreads. Goodreads, Inc. Archived from the original on 5 April 2023. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  14. ^ "AllMusic review". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2020-07-28. Retrieved 2020-08-12.
  15. ^ "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 6 January 2024. Edit this at Wikidata
  16. ^ Goplan, Nisha (May 10, 2002). "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (The Original, Uncut Version) Review" Archived 2020-07-28 at the Wayback Machine. Entertainment Weekly.
  17. ^ Review by Gerry Shamray, Sun Newspapers of Cleveland, 7 February 2003
  18. ^ Review Archived December 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Ryan Cracknell, Apollo Guide, 24 July 2001
  19. ^ Review Archived 2010-01-05 at the Wayback Machine, Peter Canavese, Groucho Reviews, 15 February 2005
  20. ^ Review Archived May 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Michael Stailey, DVD Verdict, May 27, 2002
  21. ^ "Review". Archived from the original on June 28, 2007. Retrieved September 2, 2016., Garth Franklin, Dark Horizons, December 12th 2000

External links

This page was last edited on 16 June 2024, at 04:16
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