Batman has undergone many changes during his time, especially in the medium of animation. While 'The Batman Strikes' is the latest incarnate for the Dark Knight, a few years ago, 'Batman Beyond;' updated Batman for the new millennium. The animated series, made in 1999, was transformed into the feature film 'Batman of the Future: Return of the Joker'. Set fifty years in the future, Terry McGinnis (Will Friedle) has inherited the identity from Wayne (Kevin Conroy, who provided Batman's voice in 'Batman: the Animated Adventures'), who was forced to retire due to heart problems. Rather than fill his days with gardening and easy listening radio, Bruce, accompanied by his faithful dog Ace, keeps vigil in the Batcave.
Terry's costume is dramatically changed as the new Batman: gone is the familiar black cape and cowl, replaced by a sleeker, technologically- advanced black-and-red costume. Originally built to assist an advancing Wayne, the costume jettisons the cape in favour of wings, which allow Batman to glide. The suit is imperious to small arms fire, and can withstand extreme temperatures. Built-in listening devices allow Terry to communicate with Bruce in the Batcave, and finger microphones pick up sound through walls and windows.
Terry first met Bruce while trying to investigate his father's death. After figuring out Bruce's dual-identity, Terry "borrows" the new batsuit and becomes Batman (after Bruce forbade him to do so). Part of Terry's reason is to atone for his wayward childhood, which keeps him in the suit after his father's death is solved.
'Batman of the Future: Return of the Joker' deals with the return of the Dark Knight's greatest foe. The old Joker died years ago, as shown in a vital flashback, and his reappearance has everyone baffled. Terry, with Bruce's help, must discover the new Joker's identity among the handful of suspects (including Bruce's Wayne Enterprise rival Johnathan Pryce and a bitter Tim Drake, one of the former Robins). Terry's quest is intensified when the Joker breaks into the Batcave and nearly kills Bruce, before later revealing his new master plan for the destruction of Gotham City. As the film progresses, Terry learns to separate himself from being little more than an "updated" Batman, and strives to make the costume his own.
While some animated superhero movies can be clichéd, BOTF:ROTJ is, thankfully, in a different league. Backed by an electronic/metal soundtrack, BOTF is an enjoyable ride, with enough plot development to keep you interested (while the eventual identity of the Joker isn't that surprising, the reasoning behind it is), and with a few ties to the past to avoid alienating old school Batman fans. The action scenes are superb as the film kicks off with a big fight between Batman and "the Jokerz", the Joker's gang of thugs.
If you enjoy Batman, regardless of the era, than you'll love 'Batman of the Future: Return of the Joker'.
5 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?