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Return of the Joker

NOTE: Although I don't usually do video spoilers, I've gotten a bunch of requests for this movie. Needless to say I was pretty happy when a reader sent in this spoiler...

This "Video Spoiler" was written and sent in by:

"I understand that you usually do not do "Direct to Video" features, but this one has created such a controversy, I thought you might be interested. I am writing a spoiler for the version that was released, with a note at the end about the one major change that was made between the time screeners were sent out on this and the time it was released. You'll see why this movie has Warner exes a tad nervous...."

Forty years in the future, Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) is no longer Batman, but instead monitors the work of a new Batman, his male secretary Terry McGinnis (Will Friedle).

One of Gotham's most persistent pests, a Joker-themed gang called the "Jokerz," have recently gone from petty crimes to the theft of high tech electronic components. The reason: The Joker himself (Mark Hamill) has reappeared to lead them, looking no older than he did when he disappeared four decades earlier.

The Joker chooses a ceremony honoring Bruce's return to work as CEO of Wayne Enterprises to reveal himself as his gang steals more components. Bruce is horrified, particularly when he hints that he knows his true identity. Terry appears as Batman, but the Joker and company escape by endangering civilians for Batman to rescue.

Back in the Batcave, Bruce tells Terry that it could not possibly be the Joker, because he was there when the Joker died. When Terry presses Bruce for details, he demands that Terry return the Batman costume. Terry reluctantly renews civilian life.

Later that night at a disco, Terry meets his girlfriend Dana (Lauren Tom). Their dance is interrupted by two Jokerz, identical twin girls known collectively as "Dee Dee" (Melissa Joan Hart). They separate the lovers, and Dana is grabbed by other Jokerz. A fight ensues, and Dana is critically injured.

Meanwhile, the Joker breaks into the Batcave, injuring Bruce's dog Ace and attacking Bruce with his lethal laughing gas. As Bruce collapses, the Joker sneers, "Hello, Batman."

Terry calls Bruce to demand answers as to how the Joker knew to attack him in his civilian identity. When he is unable to reach Bruce on the phone, he enters the Batcave and finds Bruce in the ruins of the Batcave. He administers an anti-toxin and calls the former Batgirl, Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Angie Harmon) for help.

When she arrives, he begs her to tell him about the Joker's alleged death. She reluctantly does so, leading to an extended flashback sequence.

Some time after Dick Grayson, the first Robin, leaves Gotham to fight crime in another city as Nightwing, the second Robin, Bruce's 10 year old adopted son Tim Drake (Matthew Valencia) disappears when responding to a call for help from a woman being held up in an alley. The hold up is phony. The victim is the Joker's mistress, Harley Quinn (Arleen Sorkin).

Barbara, as Batgirl (Tara Strong) helps Bruce search for Tim for several weeks before the Joker sends them a message to come to the ruins of Arkham Asylum. They find the Joker and Harley living a twisted parody of a 50's sitcom life in the operating room.

When Batman demands to know what happened to Robin, they introduce their "son," Joker Jr., who is actually Tim, who has been tortured to the point of insanity. Batgirl chases Harley into an unsafe portion of the structure, where they struggle and Harley falls, apparently to her death, although her body was never recovered. Meanwhile, Joker shows Batman a film of the "therapy" Robin endured, which he calls "Our Family Memories." This enrages Batman, and they fight. During the struggle, he tells Batman that he knows all of their secrets. Eventually, the Joker gets the upper hand, and, rather than finishing Batman off, gives a gun to "Joker Jr."

**Tim throws the gun away and attacks the Joker, who staggers backwards and falls in some water on the floor. Grabbing some electrical wires, the evil clown is electrocuted.**

Barbara's father, the first Commissioner Gordon, helped them cover up the Joker's death in order to protect Robin.

Back in the present, Barbara tells Terry that Tim received extensive therapy from Dr. Leslie Thompkins, the doctor who cared for Bruce after his own parents' murder, but he is now a respected communications expert with a family. The incident destroyed his and Barbara's relationship with Bruce forever. Barbara and Tim, however, have remained close friends.

Against Barbara's and Bruce's objections, Terry questions Tim (Dean Stockwell), who is now bitter and angry, but seemingly innocent. He is also a completely different physical type from the Joker. Terry's suspicions then lead him to question Jordan Price (Mark Hamill, again) a Wayne Industries executive who resembles the Joker, and who lost a promotion due to Bruce's return to work.

He arrives at Price's yacht in time to find out that he did in fact give the Jokerz the security codes for Wayne Industries, but he isn't the Joker. In fact, seconds after Terry's arrival, the Jokerz use a satellite-based weapon to destroy the yacht. Terry saves Price, turning him over to the police with incriminating evidence.

However, the fact that the Joker's new weapon is satellite-based leads him to believe that Tim Drake is helping the Joker. The recouperating Bruce tells Terry to take Tim down. Terry takes off as Batman, taking Ace with him. When he arrives at Tim's workplace, he finds a hologram in Tim's place. The Joker, who has been monitoring the site, broadcasts to Batman that yes, Tim is working for him. Batman notices cannisters that say "Jolly Jack" near the Joker as he broadcasts and traces him to the Jolly Jack candy factory.

In an attempt to protect himself, the Joker unsuccessfully uses the satellite weapon against Terry in the Batplane, levelling portions of Gotham in the process. Terry and Ace attack and defeat the Jokerz whent they arrive at the factory.

Inside the candy factory, he finds not the Joker, but a dazed Tim Drake, who claims innocence and talks of nightmares about the night he killed the Joker. Suddenly, he turns on Batman and attacks him. Then he physically transforms into the Joker.

It seems that during the time when Robin was imprisoned by the Joker, an experimental DNA-encoded microchip was implanted in his neck. Over the years, the Joker has been gradually taking over Tim's consciousness. Even Tim was unaware, attributing any memories to nightmares driven by guilt feelings over his part in the Joker's death.

The Joker then decides to turn his weapon against Bruce in the Batcave, Terry's mother's home and the hospital where Dana is recouperating. During the struggle, Terry manages to turn the weapon towards the candy factory instead.

He struggles with the Joker, tormenting him by telling him that he was obsessed with Bruce's Batman because he couldn't get a laugh out of him. Eventually, he pins the Joker to the ground, and, using the Joker's own high voltage joy buzzer, fries the microchip, "killing" the Joker and leaving behind an injured Tim Drake. He takes Tim out of the building just as the police cart off the Jokerz and the weapon destroys the factory, and thus itself.

At the Gotham Holding Center, the Dee Dees are upset to find out they are being released into the custody of the strict grandmother who raised them -- who turns out to be a seventyish Harley Quinn.

Terry and Barbara visit Tim in the hospital. Tim tells Terry that he is the best successor Bruce could have ever hoped for. Barbara warns Tim not to be too hard on Bruce, who has trouble admitting his true feelings. As Terry leaves, he encounters Bruce in the hospital corridor, en route to visiting his adopted son.

The last shot shows Terry, as Batman, overlooking Gotham.

**In the original version, Tim does not throw the gun down. He shoots the Joker, who dies with a flag reading "Bang" protruding from his chest. There were many, many more cuts and alterations, but this is one that seriously impacts on the plot.

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