The tragedy of Bruce Wayne and his vigilante alter ego Batman is arguably one of the most infamous tales in all of popular culture. Even casual fans of DC’s Dark Knight are familiar with the man who becomes the Bat following his parents’ brutal murders when he was a boy. It’s a story that set the template for superhero and vigilante origin stories to follow, and one that’s nearly lost its shocking impact as Thomas and Martha Wayne are gunned down again and again in the dark alleyways of Gotham City throughout the franchise’s many iterations.
The event that shapes Bruce onto his lonely and never-ending path of crimefighting becomes somewhat of an expected accessory to a Batman film. While all the movies in the series touch on Bruce’s troubled past, Mask of the Phantasm is the film that finally gives weight to his parents’ death and the complete loss of humanity and normalcy he experienced in the aftermath. It’s also one of the best animated films in the entire franchise.