One of the greatest animated films and Batman features of my childhood life, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, has been resurrected by fans at the creative group, Re:Anime. Made by the fans, for the fans, this 8-minute feature evokes the sheer terror and intensity of Joker facing off against the Batman of Tomorrow.
Asian actor Will Tomi suits up as Terry McGinnis with a tough exterior, gritty determination, and a smart mouth to back it up for the climactic showdown of the Return of the Joker. Note: Batman has always been my favorite superhero, yet it wasn’t until Batman Beyond that I could see myself actually being the character. Bruce Wayne was always too old, too rich, and too white for me to imagine being. Yet, Terry McGinnis was still in school, had family problems, and had certain features that just made me believe as a child that I could be him. That being said, it’s great to see that fantasy come to life with an actor that looks more like me than Ben Affleck or Christian Bale.
Playing the titular role of the villain is Hunter Smith, whose voice perfectly captures the sinister sound of Mark Hamill. Not only that, Smith brings the character to life with his physical demeanor, unsettling eyes, and range of whimsical facial expressions fitting for the Clown Prince of Crime.
For those unfamiliar with the original animated film, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, the story begins during Bruce Wayne’s tenure as the Dark Knight. The Joker kidnaps Tim Drake, the current Robin of the time, and brainwashes him into being his Joker Junior. When Batman arrives to save Tim, the Joker has the upper hand which is no surprise given that Batman has been tirelessly searching for Tim throughout Gotham for days. When Joker summons his Junior to deliver the finishing shot, Robin is able to fight off his reprogramming and ends Joker instead.
And yet, it is Joker who gets the last laugh even in death. While he used technology to implant his persona onto Tim and set it to activate decades later around the time he thought he would die of natural causes, the Joker’s unexpected death results in a Joker-less Gotham. Of course, with the exception of the Jokerz gang of Neo Gotham he helped inspire.
The fighting abilities of this Joker have his uncontrolled fury paired with the years of training given to Batman’s protege. With that in mind, it’s understandable how this old clown gives Batman Beyond a run for his money.
Created by Producer Nik Shaw, Re:Anime was born out of the frustration with the way Hollywood misrepresents the culture and characters of Anime in their live-action adaptations. Re:Anime hopes to be the bridge between the anime and live-action world. A company made by fans, for the fans.
Here at Re:Anime, we give opportunities to Asian American actors as well as respect the creative direction of the anime. Our goal is to create live-action visual content based off of our favorite anime shows that resonate with the anime community. Our content is here to celebrate the anime, not replace it.
What did you think of this fan film? Did it bring up the excitement of watching superhero cartoons as a kid? Do you just want to go back and rewatch the whole Batman Beyond series?