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Batman Beyond - 'Return of the Joker' is Coming to High-Def Blu-ray Disc

Produced just a bit before the program ended, the generally accepted continuity is that this story takes place following the series finale

Posted by David Lambert
    The greatest villain of all comes out of the past to threaten Batman, Bruce Wayne and all of Gotham City in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, the first feature-length Batman Beyond movie. The sleeker, deadlier and seemingly immortal Clown Prince of Crime is back with his own unique brand of havoc and mayhem. While trying to uncover the Joker's secrets, the new Batman, Terry McGinnis, discovers the greatest mystery in the life of the original Caped Crusader: What happened the night he fought the Joker for the last time. When Bruce Wayne is almost killed in one of the Joker's latest attacks, Batman vows to avenge his mentor and put the Joker to rest forever. Get ready for heart-stomping action, awesomeadventure and amazing revelations in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
On December 12, 2000, Warner Home Video released a direct-to-video DVD titled Batman Beyond - Return of the Joker, bringing a "post-series" story to home video about two-thirds of the way through the show's third and last season, BEFORE the series actually had a broadcast finale (event shown in this tory were also tied in to a couple of later-produced episodes of Justice League Unlimited). But that was not even the most unusual thing about the title, though! The word got out, even before the DVD was in stores, that the new feature was not only edited to remove some controversial scenes of violence, but also reformatted from the original widescreen video aspect ratio to the then-standard (at the time) 1.33:1 "full screen" format.

A grassroots fan campaign soon followed, and grew in popularity until Warner Home Video finally decided to revisit the title with an upgraded release, which became available on April 23, 2002. "Batman Beyond - Return of the Joker: The Original, Uncut Version" on DVD brought fans the missing minute-or-so of intense footage, and also returned the production to the director's vision by presenting it in a letterboxed widescreen format (despite the fact that the original snap-case box indicated it was 'standard," i.e. full screen). The new release was submitted by Warner to the MPAA, which gave this edit of the production a PG-13 ("Parents Strongly Cautioned: Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13") rating. Note, too, that both versions of the title were originally released in Warner's old-style "snapper" cardboard-and-plastic cases, and were later re-issued by the studio in fully-plastic "keepcase" packages.

It's worth mentioning here, briefly, that all of these historical events we're describing here started before TVShowsOnDVD existed, and concluded when our site was just a handful of months old. So if you look in old news posts for this, you won't find it: we simply didn't cover it! Still, based on our site's coverage guidelines over the years we've been around, we certainly would have done so if we had been there at the time! So we want to chime in now, with the latest events for this decade-old production.

Today Warner Home Video has announced that they are releasing Batman Beyond - Return of the Joker on high-definition Blu-ray Disc this coming April 5th. The single-disc release is rated PG-13, so even though the subtitle of "The Original, Uncut Version" is missing from this new release, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that this will include the controversial scenes. However, it's worth pointing out that the rear package art (shown at the bottom of this story) also mentions a running time of 76 minutes, which matches the first (edited) DVD version of the title. AND the same rear box art says the video presentation is "1080p High Definition 4x3 1.33:1" (i.e., the old "standard full-frame" aspect ratio, just like the first DVD release was, except in high-def). That certainly makes us wonder which edit of the feature will be included here. However, at the top of the rear box art it DOES say quite plainly that this is "the original uncut version," so we're trusting that description to be accurate.

Audio soundtracks included on this Blu version include DTS-HD MA: English 5.1, Dolby Digital: French 2.0 and Spanish 2.0. Also on board are Subtitles in English "SDH," plus French and Spanish. Bonus material on the new release was all previously seen on the DVD versions: Commentary by the Filmmakers, "Batman Beyond: The Legend Lives" Featurette, Animation Tests, Animated Character Bios, and Mephisto Odyssey Crash Music Video Featuring Static X. Cost for this high-def release is $19.98 SRP. Here's a look at the package art, both front and back:

Batman Beyond - Return of the Joker (Blu-ray)

Batman Beyond - Return of the Joker (Blu-ray)

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