Our list moves into the top 15, with picks that received at least one top-five vote from someone on the panel and support from others as well. Tomorrow: #13.
14) Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (3 votes, 129 points)
Shaun: I totally voted for this one, and I’m ashamed! In my opinion, it’s one of the most interesting Batman stories ever told. The animation’s not stellar or anything, but it pits Terry’s Batman against Batman’s arch-nemesis into a showdown in the FUTURE.
Along with the great storytelling, the end is what really sells me on this film, simply because in my humble opinion, Terry McGinnis truly demonstrates how he has surpassed Bruce Wayne as the best Batman. What he lacks in raw skill, he makes up for in will and spirit, and once he actually starts getting inside the Joker’s head, we finally see a hero who can get the best of the Clown Prince. Awesome movie.
Chris: I also totally voted for this one, and I’m not ashamed!
Return of the Joker is the perfect meshing of two worlds. We get familiar faces (and the iconic voices of Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and Arleen Sorkin) from Batman: The Animated Series mixed with some of the best elements from Batman Beyond, all in a dark and surprisingly graphic package. Paul Dini and Bruce Timm were not afraid to push the envelope here, and the result is a tale that encapsulates exactly the right tone.
Without spoiling too much of the plot (because if you haven’t seen this, you totally should), Bruce Wayne’s most famous antagonist suddenly reappears in Neo Gotham City. The Joker nearly kills the original Batman with his standard laughing toxin, forcing Terry to figure out what the hell is happening — because the Joker was supposedly killed years ago. That convoluted web involves Tim Drake and Harley Quinn and the Jokerz and everything in between. It’s super good.
Return of the Joker is a gritty movie that perfectly bridges the gap between the first two Batman series with Beyond, and if you have any love for the Dark Knight, you should check it out immediately.
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