Steeped in controversy, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is about as dark and violent as family animation can get. It also happens to be the best interpretation of the character since the Batman: The Animated Series premiered in 1992. While the story does, indeed, follow the heir to the Dark Knight's throne -- Batman Beyond -- anyone who is familiar with the revamped series will know how integral Bruce Wayne is to the basic story line. With Batman Beyond: The Movie already covering the original Caped Crusader's last days on the job, Return of the Joker takes things one step further and lets viewers in on the final, climatic battle with the clown prince of crime, The Joker. Told through flashbacks, it's a brutal and nasty moment that shows once and for all why the character is undoubtedly regarded as a psychopath. Credit should go to Mark Hamill, who devilishly takes center stage as the maniacal villain once again, concocting a wicked performance that's both hilarious and downright disturbing at the same time. Thankfully, the rest of the animated film is just as tight, combining the perfect amount of drama, mystery, and full-blown bat-action for the audience to eat up. With flawless character design and highly stylized fight choreography, the feature is a visual marvel that never fails to impress. In fact, the storytelling is so visceral and seamless that it's amazing that the film was done in such a short amount of time only to be dumped to the video market (for which, in all fairness, it was developed). It might be a little extreme for the youngins, but for all others, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is a true classic that delivers an inventive and adventurous take on the character's mythos.
by Jeremy Wheeler review