Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Disappointed with the junky Green Lantern live-action movie? Wondering why Iron Man 3 is best seen drunk? Maybe you should try your hand at some ANIMATED fantasy films...

To take advantage of the Tim Burton live-action film Batman Returns, Warners Bros. asked its animation unit (which up until now had been producing Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs for the Fox network) to do a Batman animated television series. This series, Batman: The Animated Series, ran from 1992 to 1995 and again as The New Batman Adventures from 1997 to 1999. The Emmy-winning series -- it won in writing, music, best animated series, and more -- starred Kevin Conroy as Batman, with 109 episodes produced. The startling 1940s-style animation, dubbed "Dark Deco", proved immensely influential in animation (and remains so to this day).

In 1993, Warner Bros. Animation produced a $6 million film, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, as a tie-in to the television series. The 76-minute film was theatrically released and earned $5.6 million at the box office. DVD and Blu-ray sales reached 12 million units.

The plot centers around Bruce Wayne before he becomes Batman, but after he has decided to fight crime. His fiancee, Andrea Beaumont, flees Gotham with her father due to the high amount of crime, and afterward Wayne adopts the Batman persona.

In present-day Gotham, a new villain -- The Phantasm -- is killing members of the gang which drove the Beaumonts out of Gotham. Batman suspects the Joker is behind the killings, but that makes no sense. The Phantasm clearly knows Batman's methods, and not only succeeds in escaping Batman's but killing more gangsters. Worse, The Phantasm almost kills Batman. Who is The Phantasm?

The film was so successful, Warner Bros. Animation produced another FOUR feature-length Batman films over the next 10 years. In 2006, Warner's animation unit produced its first non-Batman animated feature film, spawning what is now called the "DC Animated Universe" (DCAU) series of films.

As of 2014, there have been a whopping 27 DCAU films, featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Justice League, and the Teen Titans. Each film has a budget between $3.5 million and $6.5 million, and is feature-length. About a third of the films have had a limited theatrical release, but all have aired on Cartoon Network (owned by Warner Bros.) and all are on DVD and Blu-ray.

A 28th film is due for release in mid-2014.

The Phantasm is the villain of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

Andrea Beaumont is Bruce Wayne's old flame, and the love interest of the film.

Here are some more images from the film...

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