Warner Bros. just gave DCAU fans something to look forward to by announcing an HD remaster of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. The new edition of the film will be available on Blu-Ray sometime this year.
No word on special features, snazzy packaging, or even if the retouched Batventure will get a digital release. It’s exciting enough, though, just to finally have this movie in HD.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was the very first DC Animated Universe movie. It came out in 1993 during the original run of Batman: The Animated Series. The show was hugely successful, winning a Daytime Emmy and earning the movie a theatrical release.
And wow, did the movie deliver on that promise. It’s a genuinely new twist on Batman’s origin story, adding new characters who enhance the myth without distorting or cheapening it. All of this is told through the eyes of Batman in his prime, whose past comes back to haunt him as he battles the Joker and a new enemy.
The success of B:TAS, Mask of the Phantasm, and the DCAU in general owe a great deal to the voice actors. Kevin Conroy gives us possibly the best portrayal of Batman in any media. The depth of emotion he delivers through that gravel will always be amazing.
Meanwhile, Mark Hamill’s Joker is widely regarded as the best Joker in animation, and even gives The Dark Knight’s Heath Ledger a run for his money.
Mask of the Phantasm is a masterpiece in story, acting, and art. However, the visuals are pretty dated today. There’s a fair amount of film grain and blurriness, and a full-frame 4:3 picture just doesn’t play well on modern TVs. The Blu-Ray promises to fix that by digitally removing imperfections, sharpening lines, and even giving us a wide-screen 16:9 aspect ratio. And that sweet, sweet high resolution image.
With Justice League Action doing so well with its kid-friendly stories and bright colors, Mask of the Phantasm is a nice reminder that not every Batman cartoon is for kids. There’s a place for both, and there’s definitely a place for Mask of the Phantasm in any film collection.
Look for the Blu-Ray edition of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm later this year. No firm release date is available.