Holy '90s Nostalgia

30 Years Ago, We Were All Devastated By Batman’s Hidden Tragedy

Here’s what you might not remember about Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

When it comes to the enemies of Batman, there is only one nemesis that truly causes trouble for him – dating. The romantic life of Bruce Wayne reached a critical turning point on December 25, 1993, when The Mask of The Phantasm arrived in theaters. The first animated movie for The Caped Crusader came one year after the success of Batman Returns and the debut of his animated series, and while it didn’t achieve a fraction of the ticket sales the live-action sequel garnered, it’s become a cult classic that many believe is one of the best big-screen versions of Batman, period.

Being in theaters instead of TV allowed for a more mature tone, with realistic stakes like blood and a few bad guys meeting fatal ends. What really made Mask of The Phantasm special was the introduction of a new character who shook up both parts of the vigilante’s identity and revealed an event that neither comic or cartoon fans knew about. Yet, somehow this character vital to Batman’s creation was hardly seen again over the next three decades, relegated to an obscure footnote despite her huge role in shaping Gotham’s guardian bat.

Who Is The Phantasm in Batman Canon?

Warner Bros. Discovery

Gotham’s underworld is running in terror, but this time it’s not because of the Batman. An eerie grim reaper is stalking a specific group of mobsters, picking them off one by one. The police suspect Batman is the culprit, and The Caped Crusader evades The Law while deducing not only who’s behind this spree but who will be next. While Batman puts the clues together, a romance from Bruce Wayne’s past named Andrea Beaumont returns, complicating his personal life and reminding him what could have been if not for his responsibilities under the mask. Both worlds collide when The Joker enters the fray, leading to an explosive showdown that could change Bruce and Batman’s life forever.

Batman: The Animated Series established a smidgen of romantic tension between The Caped Crusader and Catwoman during its first season in 1992, but the cartoon was fresh enough to allow space for originality. Enter Andrea in Mask of The Phantasm, a mirror to Bruce Wayne in many ways, but a foil to Batman’s stance on justice. She rejected his marriage proposal for reasons out of her control uncovered during the movie, but even when she stepped back into his life years later the two remained unable to make it work.

Andrea’s concept was plucked from the comics, specifically the follow-up to Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli’s “Year One” from 1987, which traced the first 12 months of Batman arriving in Gotham. “Batman: Year Two” shares a few similarities with Mask of The Phantasm, but the biggest is how Andrea was inspired by pieces of Rachel Caspian. The daughter of Gotham’s first sentinel, The Reaper, the animated movie borrowed elements from this story arc with an emphasis on the romance angle. Unlike what unfolds in the comic where Rachel retreats to a convent to become a nun, Bruce’s girlfriend dons a mask rather than a habit to resolve her vendetta against the gangsters who offed her father, opting for extreme violence over Batman’s trust in the justice system.

Warner Bros. Discovery

Mask of The Phantasm acts as an extension of Batman’s origin story, a chapter previously unexplored in any media. It’s not quite a “Year One” story, but moreso the events that happened before “Year One” kicked off and started Batman on his one-man battle against crime. In the movie, Bruce grapples with the vow he made on his parent's grave to protect his city versus simply living a happy married life, a prospect he never planned for. Unfortunately, the world’s greatest detective can’t figure out love and after receiving Andrea’s engagement ring back with a vague note, Bruce chooses the cowl. The reality is, no matter what symbol Bruce wears on his body, his heart will always be on his sleeve, and Andrea’s rejection shattered his fleeting dream of love.

This femme fatale straight out of 1930s noir films was named after Andrea Romano, the prolific casting/ voice director responsible for discovering many of the iconic voices you grew up with on your Saturday morning cartoons. Dana Delany provided the voice of Andrea and her masked alter ego in her first voiceover role ever (“The Phantasm” moniker is never said during the film! Really!) The folks over at Warner must have loved what she did because two years later she began voicing Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated Series, playing the part in many animated incarnations from 1995 through 2013.

What Happened To Andrea Beaumont/ The Phantasm After The Movie?

Warner Bros. Discovery

As the climactic battle from Mask of The Phantasm came to a close (spoiler alert), Andrea has The Joker in her clutches as 20 miles worth of explosives go off around them. Somehow, Andrea survives and is seen on a cruise ship in the closing moments of the film lamenting her decisions as she departs from Gotham. While Andrea’s story ended there in the cartoons, the character lived on in other ways.

Andrea debuted in the comic books three years after her movie debut, returning in Batman and Robin Adventures Annual #1. This time, she comes to warn Bruce that someone is after him and aids him in his fight once this would-be assailant is revealed. She leaves once more without proper closure, popping up once more in the animated comic continuity for a story arc in 2003’s Batman Adventures. This time, she’s been hired by gangster Black Mask, but unsurprisingly, she double-crosses him in an attempt to continue her mission against the mafia.

Warner Bros. Discovery

Miss Beaumont entered the proper DC Comics continuity in 2021’s Batman/ Catwoman mini-series by Tom King, which is a bit complicated to explain in a few sentences (hope you enjoy fractured time-travel stories). An older version of Andrea as “The Phantasm” also appeared in the Batman Beyond continuity, onscreen for the second season Justice League Unlimited finale “Epilogue (only as her costumed alter ego and not Andrea), where her part in Terry McGinnis’ story was revealed. The Batman Beyond comics wrapped up this plot point and concluded the tale of Beaumont and her star-crossed relationship with Bruce in her final canonical appearance in the franchise.

These days, Bruce Wayne spends his free time with Selina Kyle, who a future version of Bats tied the knot with for the finale of Tom King’s mini-series mentioned above. He’s also got his hands full with Damian (and current Robin), his son from a tryst with Talia al Ghul. But the Bat Family could have looked very different if Andrea became a major part of Bruce’s life, or even stuck around to join him for some romantic vigilante escapades. It seems the cards were never in favor of this couple joining forces for very long, but her pivotal role in the animated series canon should never be underestimated.

Batman: Mask of The Phantasm is streaming on Max and available on Blu-Ray/ DVD.