The cast of notable – and unlikely – actors providing voices for The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 is growing by the day. Late night’s Conan O’Brien is the latest to lend his vocals to the DC animated film based on Frank Miller’s iconic graphic novel. The role entrusted to O’Brien shouldn’t be too much of a stretch: talk show host David Endocrine, the first person to find out that time hasn’t lessened The Joker’s homicidal tendencies.

The announcement (courtesy of TV Guide) may come as a bit of a surprise, given the darker tone of Miller’s story, but O’Brien is no stranger to animation:

“I’ve got a great affection for animation…I’ve always been interested in drawing, and I grew up on the Warner Bros. cartoons — which is where I think I learned a lot of my comedy. I think I got a lot of my comedic timing from the Road Runner and Bugs Bunny cartoons.”

Conan O’Brien is in good company, even if his role will be a small one. No word yet on who will be playing the voice of Paul Schaeffer’s doppelganger, so Andy Richter should expect a phone call any time now. We’d love to go into the politics at play in having O’Brien voice a character based on the one-time rival of Jay Leno, but let’s just say we’re looking forward to it.

The first dose of Frank Miller’s comic-turned-animation was even better than we’d expected (read our review), but for Part 2, the stakes, and the action, are going to be significantly raised. The Mutant Gang taking over Gotham’s organized crime provided serious physical threats to Batman (Peter Weller) in Part 1, but fans were no doubt wondering when the Dark Knight’s greatest enemy would come into view. That’s where O’Brien’s character comes in.

Based quite clearly off of David Letterman in Miller’s original style, Endocrine welcomes to his studio a ‘reformed’ Joker (Michael Emerson) who expresses a wish to make a speech to the citizens of Gotham. In a move predictable to everyone but Endocrine and Joker’s therapist Dr. Wolper (Michael McKean), the ‘Clown Prince of Crime’ soon proves that old habits die hard.

That’s just the beginning of The Joker’s crime spree, using more familiar faces to pull the aging Batman back into action. We won’t go into further details since the lengths to which Joker goes to muddy Batman’s legacy are truly shocking, but the killer clown’s antics are the least of his worries.

The element of The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 that fans will no doubt remember is the brawl between Superman (Mark Valley) and a battle-armored Batman. It will be interesting to see how the larger voice cast measures up to the iconic insanity of Mark Hamill’s Joker, or the calm cadence of Tim Daly’s Superman.

There are sure to be diehards who will despise the changing of the guard, but so far Weller’s Bruce Wayne has portrayed the grizzled, world-weary version written by Frank Miller just fine. Michael Emerson’s ability to put audience’s nerves on edge was proven through and through as Lost‘s Ben Linus, so we can only imagine what he’ll bring to voicing a full-on lunatic.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 should be available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download in early 2013.

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Source: TV Guide