Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

Home video release poster
Directed by Curt Geda
Produced by
Screenplay by Paul Dini
Story by
  • Paul Dini
  • Glen Murakami
  • Bruce Timm
Based on DC Comics characters
Music by Kristopher Carter
Edited by Joe Gall
Distributed by Warner Home Video
Release dates
  • December 12, 2000 (2000-12-12)
Running time
  • 73 minutes (edited)
  • 76 minutes (uncut)
Country United States
Language English

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (also known as Batman of the Future: Return of the Joker in Europe and Australia) is a 2000 American direct-to-video animated film featuring the comic book superhero Batman and his archenemy, the Joker. It is set in the continuity of the animated series Batman Beyond, in which Bruce Wayne has retired from crime fighting, giving the mantle of Batman to high school student Terry McGinnis, and serves as a sequel to both Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. As in the TV series, Will Friedle and Kevin Conroy star as Terry McGinnis and Bruce Wayne, respectively. Mark Hamill, who played the Joker opposite Conroy in Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, reprises his role.

Before its release, the film was heavily edited to remove scenes of extreme violence, and some dialogue was altered, thus creating the "Not-Rated" version of the film. The original version was subsequently released on DVD following an online petition to have the original version released. It received a PG-13 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for violence, the first animated Batman film and from Warner Bros. Family Entertainment to do so.

Mephisto Odyssey and Static-X contributed the song "Crash (The Humble Brothers Remix)" on the film's soundtrack, along with a music video directed by Len Wiseman featured on the DVD.


In Neo-Gotham City, the Joker mysteriously resurfaces after having disappeared 35 years ago,[1] taking over a faction of the criminal gang Jokerz. On his orders, they steal high-tech communications equipment. Despite the intervention of Terry McGinnis (Bruce Wayne's successor as Batman), the Joker escapes. Bruce insists that the Joker must be an impostor, claiming to have witnessed the Joker's death after their last battle. Unwilling to let Terry face the Jokerimpostor or notBruce demands that he return the Batsuit, to which he reluctantly complies. Later, Terry and his girlfriend Dana are attacked by the Jokerz at a nightclub. At the same time, the Joker ambushes and attacks Bruce in the Batcave, leaving him for dead. Terry defeats the Jokerz, and Dana is taken to the hospital for her injuries. Terry rushes to Wayne Manor, and finds Bruce near-dead from the Joker's trademark toxin. Terry quickly administers an antidote, and tends to Bruce with the help of Barbara Gordon.

At Terry's insistence, Barbara reluctantly tells him what really happened to the Joker. Decades earlier, after Nightwing (Dick Grayson) moved to the adjoining city of Blüdhaven to fight crime on his own, the Joker and Harley Quinn kidnapped Tim Drake, Dick's successor as Robin, disfigured him to look like the Joker, and tortured him for three weeks, at which point Tim revealed Batman's secrets. After hearing Joker taunting Tim, Batman snaps and fights him only to end up stabbed and weakened. During the final battle, although the Joker attempted to make Tim kill Batman, Tim turned on the Joker and killed him before suffering a mental breakdown. Batman and Batgirl comfort Tim and then buried the Joker's body in a mineshaft deep beneath Arkham Asylum, while Harley fell into a pit while fighting Batgirl and was presumed dead. One year after the incident, Tim was successfully rehabilitated, but Bruce forbade Tim from being Robin again, blaming himself for what happened and vowing to never again endanger another young partner. Tim eventually settled down with a wife and family and now has a career as a communications engineer.

Terry decides to question Tim, who denies any involvement and bitterly says he had grown sick of his past life as Robin. Terry then suspects Wayne Enterprises' operations manager Jordan Pryce, who would have taken control of the company were it not for Bruce's return. Terry finds the Jokerz with Pryce on his yacht, who reveal that Pryce had hired them and given them access codes. However, the Joker has sent them to kill Pryce, as he is no longer needed. Terry rescues Pryce before a laser blast destroys the boat, and then turns him in to the police with a recording of Pryce's conversation with the Jokerz.

Back in the Batcave, Terry deduces that Tim must be working with the Joker when he discovers that the high-tech equipment the Jokerz have been stealing can be combined to form a machine that takes control of any satellite, even an orbiting military satellite with an automated defense system and fire it at will, thus explaining what happened on the yacht—and it can only be built by an engineer of Tim's caliber. Although skeptical, Bruce sends Terry to question Tim. The Joker, who confirms that he and Tim are indeed working together, lures Terry into a trap.

After escaping, Terry tracks the Joker to the abandoned Jolly Jack Candy Factory. After fighting off the Jokerz, he finds Tim, who transforms into the Joker before his eyes. The Joker confesses that when he kidnapped Tim, he secretly implanted a microchip, built from cutting-edge genetics technology (revealed later to have been stolen from Project Cadmus) into Tim's brain. The chip carries the Joker's consciousness and genetic material, allowing the Joker to transform Tim into a clone of himself, eventually becoming strong enough to permanently control Tim's body. The Joker prepares to fire the satellite to kill Terry's girlfriend Dana Tan, his family and Bruce before destroying the city, but Terry sets Bruce's dog, Ace, on him. Terry knocks the Joker's joy buzzer into the controls, destroying the beam's guidance system and causing it to head to the factory.

The Joker attempts to escape, but Terry seals the factory. The two fight, but the Joker is a formidable opponent since he has extensive knowledge of Bruce's tactics as Batman. Terry improvises by using his own street fighting maneuvers and taunting the Joker's obsession with Bruce, sending the villain into a fury to put him off balance. The Joker pins Terry to the floor and begins to strangle him. However, having covertly retrieved the Joker's joy buzzer, Terry delivers a shock to the Joker's neck, destroying the chip, reverting Tim to his old self and ridding the Joker once and for all. Terry escapes with Tim and Ace before the satellite destroys the factory and the satellite-jamming device. The satellite is deactivated and floats into outer space.

In the city jail, the female twin members of the Jokerz (collectively known as "Dee Dee") are bailed out by their grandmother, an elderly and apparently reformed Harley Quinn. Later, while visiting Tim in the hospital to reconcile, Bruce acknowledges to Terry that he is worthy of the mantle of Batman. The film ends with Terry donning the Batsuit and flying off into the heart of the city.


The new Batman and young apprentice to Bruce Wayne who has aged and retired being Gotham's vigilante.
The original Batman, who has aged and mentors Terry.


The film was put in production after the cancellation of Batman: Arkham.[2] It was produced during the second and third season of Batman Beyond, and aired as part of the third season, specifically after the episodes "King's Ransom" and "Untouchable".

The design of the Joker in the film was the second revamp of physical appearance, after his redesign in The New Batman Adventures. This design was later used in the episodes "Injustice for All", "Only a Dream, Part 1" and "Wild Cards" of Justice League and in the episode "The Big Leagues" of Static Shock.[3] According with the DVD commentary, Joker's new design was based on an illustration of Hannibal Lecter from the novel The Silence of the Lambs, although some elements of this new design could be inspired in the villain Frieza from the Dragon Ball franchise. Mark Hamill reprised his role as the Joker, and also voiced Jordan Pryce, a red herring character, for deceive the public about the new Joker's true identity.

In the early scripts of the film, Joker's sidekick Harley Quinn was originally set to be killed in the flashback sequence. However, a short scene near the end of the movie, just after the climax, features an older woman who resembles Harley releasing her twin granddaughters (Delia and Deidre Dennis) from prison. When the old woman scolds the twins about their actions, one of them replies: "Shut up, Nana Harley!" Producer and screenwriter Paul Dini included this scene in the script because of his displeasure at being asked to kill off what he felt was one of his biggest contributions to the Batman mythos. Producer Bruce Timm chose to retain it because he felt it provided some necessary comic relief. Also, it was originally planned that after being shot, Bonk's corpse was to be seen in the background twitching throughout the rest of the scene, but the producers were asked to leave it out early in the film's development. Chucko's design was also inspired in a clown costume of Eric Radomski.

The producers cast Michael Rosenbaum, a voice actor that voiced many characters in Batman Beyond, as Ghoul, one of the Joker's Jokerz. The others were voiced by other DCAU voice actors. According to the DVD commentary, Rosenbaum modeled his voice on that of actor Christopher Walken. Also, Tara Strong was first credited as Tara Charendoff, her married name.

Behind the scenes

Connections to the television series


"That's not funny..." The Joker's death in the uncut version (PG-13).
The Joker's death in the edited version of the film (Not-Rated).

The film was initially released amid the backlash against violence in films and video games aimed at children that followed the Columbine High School massacre, in which Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and one teacher before committing suicide on April 20, 1999. As a result, the film was substantially re-edited shortly before release on December 12, 2000, to reduce the violence. The original unedited version was eventually released as "The Original Uncut Version" on April 23, 2002.

The following are scenes that were changed in the edited-for-content version:


Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released October 17, 2000
Genre Rock
Length 38:13
Label Rhino 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 written by Kristopher Carter. 

No. TitlePerformers Length
1. "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Main Title)"  Kristopher Carter 02:10
2. "Industrial Heist"  Kristopher Carter 03:48
3. "Meet the Joker"  Kristopher Carter 02:47
4. "Joker Crashes Bruce's Party"  Kristopher Carter 01:19
5. "Terry Relieved of Duty"  Kristopher Carter 01:54
6. "Nightclub Fight / Terry Rescues Bruce"  Kristopher Carter 04:39
7. "A Trap for Tim"  Kristopher Carter 01:26
8. "Joker Family Portrait"  Kristopher Carter 02:05
9. "Arkham Mayhem"  Kristopher Carter 03:31
10. "Batman Defeats the Jokerz"  Kristopher Carter 01:36
11. "Joker Meets His End (Again)"  Kristopher Carter 04:21
12. "Healing Old Wounds"  Kristopher Carter 02:03
13. "Crash (The Humble Brothers Remix)"  Mephisto Odyssey (feat. Static-X) 03:26
14. "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (End Title)"  Kenny Wayne Shepherd 03:02
Total length:

Critical reception

The film received critical acclaim. It holds an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[6]

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."[7] Gerry Shamray of Sun Newspapers said that Return of the Joker "would have made a great live-action Batman movie."[8] Ryan Cracknell of Apollo Guide called the film "an animated masterpiece."[9]

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."[10] 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."[11]

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."[12] 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.[13]


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 Nominated
Glen Murakami Nominated
Bruce Timm Nominated
Voice Acting in a Feature Production Mark Hamill Nominated
DVD Exclusive Award Best Animated Character Performance Won

Comic adaptation

The comic adaption of the film was released in February 2001. While the comic was largely uncensored, the page depicting the Joker's death was redone to match the uncensored version of the movie.[14]

The comic includes several scenes that did not make it to either versions of the film. Two examples are:


  1. Dini, Paul (2000). Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: The Official Screenplay. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill Publications. p. 71. ISBN 0823077179.
  4. Dini, Paul (2000). Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: The Official Screenplay. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill Publications. p. 91. ISBN 0823077179.
  5. AllMusic review
  6. "Batman Beyond - Return of the Joker". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 22 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-23.
  7. Goplan, Nisha (May 10, 2002). "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (The Original, Uncut Version) Review". Entertainment Weekly.
  8. Review by Gerry Shamray, Sun Newspapers of Cleveland, 7 February 2003
  9. Review Archived December 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., Ryan Cracknell, Apollo Guide, 24 July 2001
  10. Review, Peter Canavese, Groucho Reviews, 15 February 2005
  11. Review Archived May 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., Michael Stailey, DVD Verdict, May 27, 2002
  12. "Review". Retrieved September 2, 2016., Garth Franklin, Dark Horizons, December 12th 2000
  13. Conrad, Jeremy (April 23, 2002). "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Uncut)". IGN. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  14. ROTJ Page Comparison

External links

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