“It was a risk”: Why Mark Hamill is Forever Thankful Mask of the Phantasm Didn’t Cast His Joker as Lead Villain Opposite Kevin Conroy

The iconic Batman film was initially a box office disaster due to lack of marketting.

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SUMMARY

  • Mark Hamill cemented his place in pop culture history as the face of Luke Skywalker and the voice of the Joker.
  • The actor played the legendary DC villain in Batman: The Animated Series as well as other DCAU offerings.
  • Hamill also played the role in the iconic Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, where he was a secondary villain, which he was grateful for.
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Mark Hamill has been known for his role as Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy. However, he has also been synonymous with the voice of the Joker as he rendered his vocal talents to the DC villain in Batman: The Animated Series and other films and shows of the DCAU. Hamill was also nominated for Annie Awards for the show and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.

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Hamill also played the role in one of the finest Batman films of all time. He reprised the role in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, which has been regarded as one of the best animated Batman films of all time. Hamill’s Joker was a secondary villain in the controversial film and the actor was reportedly grateful that the character was positioned that way.

Mark Hamill Was Happy That Joker Was Not The Main Antagonist Of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Kevin Conroy's Batman in a scene from Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Kevin Conroy as Batman in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

The production of the Kevin Conroy starrer Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was reportedly condensed to eight months after Warner Bros. changed their direct-to-video plans into a theatrical release. Hence, the film was not that financially successful at the cinemas as the production did not have much time to market the film.

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The film was also the first feature film from Warner Bros. Animation, which had created the TV show Batman: The Animated Series. The film was reportedly set between season one and season two of the show and saw many of the same actors return to their roles such as Kevin Conroy as the Batman, Mark Hamill as the Joker, and Bob Hastings as Jim Gordon.

Mark Hamill's Joker in a scene from Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Joker in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Mark Hamill’s Joker has been an iconic part of Batman: TAS, with the actor reprising his role in multiple shows and DCAU movies. However, in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the character was pushed to be a secondary villain as the Phantasm took center stage. Hamill mentioned to The Hollywood Reporter that he was grateful for the decision,

“I really like that he wasn’t the film’s main antagonist. It was a risk putting him in the film at all because he’s such an overpowering character, it could’ve easily felt like the writers were repeating themselves.”

The film also acted as an origin story for the Joker and saw his early days as a gangster. Hamill mentioned that the decision helped him give a distinction to the younger Joker and then fully lean into the madness as he got older.

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Mark Hamill Watched Batman: Mask of the Phantasm With 12 Fans

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Mark Hamill in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The upgrade for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm from a direct-to-video release to a theatrical release not only affected the production schedule of the film but also its marketing. The eight-month schedule for an animated film was unprecedented and reportedly did not result in a good number of box office receipts. The film would later become a hit with home video releases.

Mark Hamill reportedly was excited to watch the film in the cinemas and had gone with his family to attend a screening on opening day. However, he was disappointed to see just a dozen fans in the cinemas as the film’s release was virtually unknown to the general public. Hamill mentioned to THR,

“There weren’t any ads on Saturday Night Live or any of the normal places you’d see a film advertised…We got to the theater and there were maybe 12 people! The people that were there were all die-hard fans of the animated series and they recognized me.”

The actor was reportedly disappointed that there were no lines around the block after watching the film. He reportedly also asked the small group of fans if they could sit together and watch the film.

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Written by Nishanth A

Articles Published: 1154

Nishanth A is a Media, English and Psychology graduate from Bangalore. He is an avid DC fanboy and loves the films of Christopher Nolan. He has published over 1,000 articles on FandomWire. When he's not fixating on the entire filmography of a director, he tries to write and direct films.