Ninety 90’s Songs: Is Animated Batman Just For Kids?

As a child I watched “Batman: The Animated Series”, because, guess what, I was a child and that was the market to which the show was geared. It was a cartoon, yes, but it also featured story lines that were highly conceptual, and any child who understood what depth of maturity and understanding were, without necessarily having either, knew this show had some of that going on.

#72 “I Never Even Told You” by Tia Carrere, from the soundtrack to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm by Shirley Walker. While the film was a box office bomb due to lack of proper marketing for something as grand as the 76-minute full featured film offered, it has subsequently found cult success through VHS and DVD sales, thankfully to probably the same 22 fans who love the film enough to support 22-handedly the film’s post-theater release.

Constantly argued as one of the best Batman films ever, even compared to Christopher Nolan’s excellent trilogy of Batman films, Mask of the Phantasm wore the big boy pants as a feature film. The voice acting, animation, and production values maintained and even surpassed those of the television series that spawned it, and the soundtrack and implementations of mature themes were definite examples of aspects that evolved past and originated from The Animated Series.

Composer Shirley Walker was one of few female Hollywood composers of her time, and she elevated the soundtrack of Batman, which was originally based on Danny Elfman’s stellar work, into something epic and evocative of the story which Mask of the Phantasm so deftly told, and did so more tenderly and poignantly that most Batman films ever produced.

90’s singer/actress Tia Carrere does an admiral job of providing a proper 90’s R&B ballad for the closing credits which echoes the melancholic themes of the film’s tragic love story (the best love story Batman has ever had in a feature film). While there is no official video, there is also posted a clip from the film’s opening credits that showcases Walker’s fantastic score.

Though tragically a box office bomb, and a cult classic (which means it is still relatively successful among hobbyists, geeks, nerds, and people with disposable income towards things that aren’t popular), Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of the best Batman films ever made, with a surprisingly and engagingly mature story despite its obvious marketing towards children and young adults. The soundtrack, as well, is a jewel that further promotes the brief film’s timelessness.

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