The very first thing I have to say about this is that Return of the Joker was probably the single most depressing animated anything I have ever watched. I missed seeing some of the reoccurring characters from the series like Max who was exactly the kind of role model I think kids should look up to, but I’ll talk about her more when I discuss my thoughts about the rest of the series.
The storyline for Return of the Joker did a great job of tieing together the original Batman story with the new Batman Beyond story. Batman’s interactions with the Joker have never been pleasant, as the Joker was the prime example of the worst kind of bad guy. But the story used here in this movie was sadder and more depressing than I was prepared for. I didn’t realize that this was going to be such a heart-breaking movie. I’m not usually a very big Batman fan. In my youth, I read the occasional comic book and I watched some of the cartoons. I knew that in the comics, the first Robin was actually killed by the Joker, but I didn’t really pay too much attention to the rest of the people who Batman trained and mentored. So when Tim Drake’s story came up, I had no idea if it mirrored the comic books or not. It didn’t actually matter in the end, because the story was completely capable of standing on its own.
Watching what the Joker did to Tim Drake as Robin was terrible and heart-wrenching. The Joker had Robin for three whole weeks and in that time used all his tricks to take a person out of Batman’s life. Not just death, but torture and brainwashing, leaving a lifetime of scars and pain. And then to take over Tim Drake’s body as well? And cause the destruction of huge parts of the city as well as killing or injuring hundreds of innocents? It was a horrible thing to watch. It both pushed the lesson of why heroes need to exist so they can stop people like the Joker as well as why being a hero sucks so much. Chosing to be a hero means that you and likely the people you love will become targets for all the really crazy people in the world. At some point as a hero, you’ll suffer and be tortured, potentially made worse by being forced to watch the people you love suffer first. That’s the role of the hero – to take any action necessary to protect other people from bad guys who have selfish intent.
I am glad that I bought Return of the Joker when I bought the complete series boxed set. I think that the series ended rather abruptly and that this movies provided a nice conclusion to the series. Every time Terry McGinnis said that he wasn’t like any of the other, previous youths to work with Batman, I kept wanting him to do something really spectacular that proved that he was different. And in the end, when he mocked the Joker, that was pretty neat and made me think that maybe he really was a different type of hero.
I might type out more of my thoughts later, but right now, I really am just stuck on how absolutely depressing this movie was. It was good, don’t get me wrong. I guess that’s the mark of a well-done show is that it’s written so well that it plays on your emotions and actually causes you to feel things. But it was still super depressing.