I really like Mask of the Phantasm and thought it was best Batman film Period until BATMAN BEGINS. Now I have seen Under the Red Hood ( I had to re-watch it because it thought it was so good) and I think It beats out Mask of Phantasmas best animated Batman Film.
Exactly Batmans history was necessary for him to evolve to his present state. As a kid growing up in the early seventies ,Batman was already changed to the serious Dark Knight Detective thanks to Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams.Even though the Tv showed Adam West as Batman ,I knew Batman to be quite different from that representation. Remember Batman began in the pulps ,1939 as the costumed grim loner. The idea was sound but how long would this particular tone last in a time of depression. It concerned the creators and the publishers. It was then decided by the powers that be that the all too violent world of Batman needs to be lighter with some comic relief to reach and keep their intended audience young boys. . Robin was created for those kids of those times and decades of silly comic stories watered our Dark Knight down to downright silly incarnations in implausible situations. It led to the all too campy Batman TV show . In its first year the show was good but as it went on it lost steam. Thats why kids of those generations that are now grown even though they loved it ,thought it was far too silly to be taken seriously. I was exposed to several incarnations of Batman inside Batman and Detective Comics growing up buying those 25 cent Giant size Batman comics of my time. There would be a story from the ongoing continuity representing the true Dark Knight ,a solo story from one of the Batman Family a story from the silver age Batman and one from the golden age. i got to see and read those Batman stories and watch him evolve. Its great to have the variety , but I know everybody likes the present incarnation of Batman