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"You know kids a lot has changed while your old Uncle Joker's been away; New Gotham, new rules, even a new Batman. But now I'm tanned. I'm rested and I'm ready to give this old town a wedgie again!"
―The Joker to his gang of Jokerz[src]

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (also known as Batman of the Future: Return of the Joker in some regions) is an animated feature film based on the series Batman Beyond.

The Joker, Batman's greatest enemy from the past, has returned even deadlier than ever with another villainous scheme to bring Gotham City to its knees and now it is up to Terry, Bruce Wayne's successor who has become Gotham's new protector to stop the psychopathic Clown Prince of Crime once and for all.


In 21st century Gotham City, the new Batman (Terry McGinnis) is busy fighting crime. This time he stops a small group of Jokerz from stealing a system scanner from Gotham shipping. Though he stops them, they get away. Meanwhile in the Batcave, Terry's mentor and former Batman, Bruce Wayne and Ace are practicing throwing the batarang when Terry returns to the cave. Terry asks Bruce if he'll have time for Batman when he is back in charge of his company, despite objection from company manager, Jordan Price. Bruce refuses to step down from his return to his family's company. After that Terry joins up with his girlfriend, Dana at a club.

Meanwhile the small gang of Jokerz, meet up with their boss who is revealed to be the Joker himself. He berates the gang for their failure as they had only managed to bring back the security memory board of the system scanner. Bonk who is still smarting from his battle with Batman, reprimands Joker, saying that he doesn't even believe that he is the real Clown Prince of Crime, and that Joker is leaving him and the rest of the gang left in the dark about his plans consisting of stealing what he considers "geek junk" but nothing valuable. Bonk finally decides that he no longer wants to involved and tells the Joker that he wants out. The villain pulls out a flag gun. At first it's just a joke, but then the Joker kills Bonk, leaving him smiling. This convinces the rest of the Jokerz to go along with his plan. Joker, then decides to steal one from Wayne Enterprises, despite the Jokerz' protests that security there would be tight, saying it will be "fun".

At the party to welcome Wayne back, the Jokerz attacks Bruce, where they reveal their leader, The Joker, which astonishes everyone including Bruce. The Joker gets what he was after, and escapes. When Terry and Bruce drive home, Terry asks if this mid-80s year old Joker could be a clone, a robot, or has been in suspended animation, but Bruce doesn't answer his questions. Tim Drake watches it and is surprised to see the Joker alive on the news. Terry then goes to see Barbara Gordon, but she warns him not to underestimate the real Joker, since he was one of the most dangerous villains Batman had faced, and hopes he never runs afoul of the real one.

Back at the Batcave, Bruce analyzes the voice of the Joker with an old voice record, and it checks out as the real Joker. Bruce tells Terry that it could not possibly be the real Joker, because he says that he was there when the Joker died many years ago. Terry presses Bruce for details, but he wouldn't give any. Bruce asks for Terry to turn over his Batsuit and says that he has done all he can do, and it is time to shut everything down. Terry storms out and returns to his home.

The next night Terry is attacked at a club by the Jokerz. At the same time, Batman is attacked in the Batcave by the Joker. While fighting, Terry realizes that there would be no reason to be attacked unless they knew who he was. After taking care of the Jokerz, Terry speeds off to Wayne manor and calls Bruce on his way, with no answer. When he arrives, he finds Wayne Manor vandalized and the Batcave spray painted with Joker graffiti and Bruce laying on the ground with a "Joker smile" frozen on his face. Terry uses some anti-toxin that Bruce had been working on to help him.

The next day, Terry confronts Commissioner Barbara Gordon. After some convincing, Barbara tells Terry the story of what happened when the Joker died 40 years ago:

After Nightwing (Dick Grayson) had left to establish himself in another city called Blüdhaven, Robin (Tim Drake) was on patrol when he came to the aid of an old woman, who turned out to be Harley Quinn, who hit him with a mallet and dragged him away.

There was no sign of Robin for three weeks, until a clue led Batman and Batgirl to the original Arkham Asylum which was deserted now. There the Joker and Harley introduce their "son" Joker Jr. - Tim Drake, but with a rictus grin frozen into his face. After seeing Tim, brainwashed and drugged, Batman rushes to attack the Joker, while Batgirl goes after Harley. While trying to escape Batgirl, Harley falls off a cliff, to her apparent death.

Meanwhile, the Joker leads Batman to a room where he shows Batman a "home movie" of Tim being tortured and turned into Joker Jr. During this torture, Tim reveals to the Joker the real identities of the Batman Family. Blazing with anger, Batman attacks the Joker again and after a long struggle, the Joker stabs Batman in the leg with a knife. Tim, still very deranged, picks up a flag gun and points it at Batman, urged by the Joker to shoot. At the last minute he turns and shoots the Joker, planting the flag into his chest. With his dying breath the Joker says in a weakened voice, "That's not funny." Tim begins to break down into maniacal laughter, which soon turns to tears, and is comforted by Barbara, who tells him it is okay. The team then went on to bury the Joker deep underneath Arkham Asylum, and the only person they ever told was Barbara's father, the original Commissioner Gordon.

Tim was in rehab for a year with Leslie Thompkins who was able to cure him of his insanity. Tim never put on the Robin suit again after Bruce forbade Tim from being Robin again, blaming himself for what happened and swore that he will never endanger another young partner, and moved away to become a successful communications engineer.

Terry dons the Batsuit and pays a visit to Tim. Tim claims to know nothing of the recent return of the Joker, that he was as surprised as well and swears that he has put those days behind him. Tim also tells Batman that he would tear up his own costume.

Terry then looked into Jordan Price on his private yacht. There, Jordan is confronted by the Jokerz and reveals that he helped them get what they wanted. Unfortunately they came to silence Price. Terry was then able to save Price, but turned him over to the police. Terry goes back to the Batcave trying to put the pieces together. Bruce walks in and tells him that things are not always obvious. Terry notices that during the Joker's attack in the Batcave, he destroyed all of the display cases of the old Batman family suits. But, only Robin's suit is all torn up. Terry looks at all of the items that the Jokerz had stolen and realizes that they could be used to make a large satellite controlling device, like a government defense satellite. Tim could have been the one that provided all of the knowledge for it. Terry suits up and goes off to investigate.

Terry tracks down Tim, who happens to be in Gotham. He discovers that he is only a hologram. With this discovery Batman tracks down the Jokerz hideout. After fighting off the Joker's pawns, Batman goes inside to find Tim working. Tim relives that fateful day, and then attacks Batman. After a struggle, Tim transforms into the Joker. The Joker brags that during the process of "making" Joker Jr. he implanted a DNA microchip in Tim. So, even after his death he could still live on, in Tim's body. Tim had no idea that the Joker was using him.

Batman and the Joker start to fight, but the Clown Prince of Crime knows every move of the original Batman family and proves more than a match for him. Batman separates himself and hides in the rafters. There, he taunts the Joker, saying that the reason his old nemesis never laughed at his incessant "jokes" wasn't due to Bruce's lack of humor, but because of Joker's failure as a rival and a clown. Irritated and frustrated, the Joker launches Joker bombs at the ceiling, pinning Terry to the floor. In the struggle, the machine was damaged, directing the satellite's laser toward them. The Joker pins Terry down with his hands and begins strangling him, demanding to hear Batman laugh before he dies. Reaching around Terry grabs one of the Joker's electric joy buzzers, and slaps it on the back of his neck, sardonically laughing while zapping the micro chip, shorting it out and bringing Tim back to form. Batman and Tim escape just before the laser destroys the whole building with the help of a Joker bomb and Ace.

Later, two of the Jokerz, the Dee-Dee twins, are bailed out by their grandmother who they call "Nana Harley". She is revealed to be none other than an aged Harley Quinn, who is revealed to have survived the fall decades ago and presumably left Joker's employ for good.

Bruce visits Tim in the hospital to make amends, finally overcoming his own problems. Terry, with a better understanding of being Batman, vows to wear the Batsuit and continue the Batman legacy.



Hiroyuki Aoyama storyboarded the climatic fight sequence between Terry and Joker.


The movie was released after the school shooting at Columbine. They toned down the violence and suggestive references for the original VHS and DVD. An Uncut Edition was released later in 2002.




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