Re: So let's talk about Mask of the Phantasm...
Certainly my favorite Bat-film as well. Every story beat is so well executed. And then there's the imagery about "the future"...
I love the flashbacks of Bruce and Andrea visiting the very utopian future-theme-park. Bruce has so much optimism then. His future is filled with Andrea and joy.
Then the actual park is later filled with despair. Only the Joker, Batman's eternal enemy, lives in the future with him. Its a shift from utopia to dystopia. The robots start singing "Welcome Gotham to the future" and the Joker silences them... "I haaaate that song!" Such a powerful and iconic villain introduction. He hates Gotham's happy future and wants to kill it.
Its no coincidence that Joker calls the Phantasm "the Ghost of Christmas Future."
In each scene Batman's inevitable future is indicated. At the theme park, he sees the inspiration for the batmobile. When he proposes to Andrea, bats fly out of the cave (sends chills up my spine every time). Its like Bruce is locked into a fate that he can't escape, no matter how much he wants to try. He can't escape tragedy. But he refuses to become that which he fights against.