‘Dark Knight Returns’ Animated Movie Reveals Voice Cast & First Images [Updated]

2 years ago by  

[UPDATE: Check out the first images from The Dark Knight Returns!]

DC Entertainment is bringing Frank Miller’s trend-setting Batman comic storyline, The Dark Knight Returns, to cinematic life. Miller’s original, four-issue graphic novel will be split into two animated features.

Warner Bros. and DC have jointly announced the voice cast for this project. Similar to how the studios’ animated take on Miller’s Batman: Year One comic featured an untested voice-actor as the young Bruce Wayne – rather than a tried-and-true fan-fave like Kevin Conroy – Dark Knight Returns will also mix things up, with respect to the old(er) Bruce Wayne’s voice.

Here, in a nutshell, is the synopsis for Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (via Heat Vision):

One of the most influential comics of all time, ['The Dark Knight Returns'] is set in a near future where Batman is retired and Gotham City has slid into a dystopian state ruled by a gang of hooligans called The Mutants. The 55-year old Bruce Wayne is forced to don the cape once more, this time partnering with a female Robin to not only stop the Joker but keep the peace when the city falls into chaos after being hit by an electromagnetic pulse.

Miller’s often brutally-violent and relentlessly-gloomy take on the Batman mythos with Dark Knight Returns (released in 1986) essentially established the tone for every subsequent portrayal of the Caped Crusader – be it in comic book, animated TV show, or live-action film form – with a few, much-derided exceptions (*cough* Batman & Robin *cough*). Christopher Nolan’s Batman films were likewise heavily influenced by Miller’s approach to the character – and the third Dark Knight Rises trailer suggests that the finale to Nolan’s Batman trilogy directly borrows plot points from Dark Knight Returns.

It’s perhaps fitting, then, that Jay Oliva – who storyboarded Zack Snyder’s upcoming Superman movie reboot, Man of Steel, which was (in turn) influenced by Nolan’s approach to superhero filmmaking – is directing the adaptation(s) of Miller’s Dark Knight Returns source material.

UPDATE: Have a look at the first screenshots from the Dark Knight Returns animated feature (click for larger versions):

Here are the announced members of the Dark Knight Returns voice cast (so far):

  • Peter Weller, the fan-favorite star of the original RoboCop and guest player on shows like 24 and Dexter (he’s also in the upcoming Star Trek 2), as Bruce Wayne/Batman.
  • Ariel Winter, of Modern Family and Phineas and Ferb fame, as 13-year old Carrie Kelley/female Robin.
  • Wade Williams, a Prison Break alum who provided vocals for DC titles like Green Lantern: Emerald Knights and Batman: Under the Red Hood, as Harvey Dent/Two-Face.
  • Michael McKean, the star of famous 1980s titles like This Is Spinal Tap and Clue (who briefly played Perry White on Smallville), as Dr. Wolper – the psychiatrist who releases Joker from Arkham.
  • David Selby, star of the original Dark Shadows and Falcon Crest soap operas, in a role not disclosed in THR‘s scoop.
Overall, the voice cast for Dark Knight Returns reads as solid – and Weller as the older Bruce Wayne should go over pretty well with fans. DC animated features have a mixed track record (see: our reviews for Batman: Year One, Under the Red Hood, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, etc.), so we’ll just have to wait and see whether Oliva – along with screenwriter Bob Goodman (Batman Beyond, Warehouse 13) – can deliver an adaptation that falls on the good side of the fence.

Look for Part 1 of The Dark Knight Returns to hit shelves this fall, followed by Part 2 in early 2013.

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Source: THR

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT: batman, the dark knight returns

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  1. No Kevin Conroy? That’s disappointing :(

    Just the other day I was thinking to myself: “When are they bringing out a new animated superhero movie!”, but this isn’t really the answer I was hoping for.
    I’m not really a fan of The Dark Knight Returns (please don’t bite my head off ;))

    Anyway, I heard rumors that a Flashpoint animated movie was in the works – Kevin Conroy said he did voice work for a DC movie recently and also said it stars the Flash, but that Batman also plays an important part, so I’m definitely looking forward to that one.

    • To me, Kevin Conroy does not sound like he could pass as a 55 year old bruce wayne. his voice IS batman, but not a retired batman if you ask me. His voice is Batman in his prime.

      • With the technology available, they could make it sound aged.
        Plus, Conroy could do some adjustments to his voice as well (if I can make prank phone calls sounding like an old man, I’m sure a pro voice actor can do the same ;))

      • BBJ,

        Hey, no disrespect, but you reminded me of the Batman episode where Conroy voiced Bruce Wayne, Thomas Wayne, Batman, and the evil Batman character. Maybe he could pull it off? (But my point doesn’t matter now that Weller’s in.)

      • I also just remembered that Conroy did the voice of Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond (the animated series). In that show Wayne is in his late 60s (70s? maybe even early 80s? – he was definitely old lol ;)) and the voice sounded very convincing IMO.

      • Kevin Conroy was born in 1955. He’s about 56-57 years old – older than Bruce Wayne in TDKR (52, I recall). And he’s an actor, so he can certainly gravel it up a bit.

        I’m curious if he could do a live action TDKR, even as a short-short. It would be a priceless visual. Hell, just a pose.

      • he does it in batman beyond he plays batman in his 80′s and does a perfect job.

    • You hit the nail on the head my friend. Anytime they choose not to cast Batman as Batman they lose. Kevin Conroy is the best Batman of all time and straying from his voice talent is just stupid.

      Well DK Returns is just another one I won’t bother to see.

      • 100 percent true, he is batman to me and my kids and anyone that knows anything about the bat.

        • I know plenty about the Bat, but I can easily appreciate different interpretations of the character and his world. I’ve very much enjoyed the other voice actors in the animated films, as well as Conroy.

          • Given Kevin Conroy’s history of voicing the character, I get why people bristle. He defined the voice in the same way Christopher Reeve defined Superman’s, and I have to say, TDKR is no ordinary Batman book. This is the book that reinvigorated Batman in the 80′s, this book is the reason we got those goddawful Tim Burton movies that payed for the brilliant upstream swimming Batman Animated series, this is the book that paved the way for Batman Begins et al., this should be WB’s jewel crown project. They nail it, Weller will be hailed as an inspired choice. They blow it and not going with Conroy will be one of the many reasons it failed.

            This cartoon deserves a special attention paid to it by those who produced it, it alone is unique in Batman’s canon. Conroy earned his right to be the one to voice it, I hope they have smart reasons for proving me wrong.

            • THAT is something with which I can agree.

            • Addendum: Your final statement is half right, imo. I think Conroy could easily do the role quite well. I just don’t think he EXCLUSIVELY deserves the role. Weller obviously impressed the filmmakers, so he earned his chance.

              • Let’s face it, Batman’s a tricky voice to pull off. Adam West’s Batman voice is awesome and iconic, but not one that is appropriate outside that specific tv show. Probably my one sore spot with the Nolan movies was I felt Bale’s Batman voice was kinda ridiculous sounding, tho’ I understood what they were going for and why. Batman is a huge icon, he’s bigger than the other shadow dwelling vigilantes, therefore I think there’s a contradiction: with Superman it makes sense that he has a larger than life, commanding voice, Batman needs a similar commanding voice, yet that voice should also be menacing and mysterious, and Kevin Conroy pulled that contradiction off better than anybody before or since.

                • DC should make Kevin Conroy voiced alternate versions of all the Batman movies and cartoons. Oh, to dream…

  2. SWEET!

  3. I hope he says, “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”

  4. Peter Weller? That surprised me in a good way. Personally, I’d like to hear/see Jim Cavizel as an older Batman one day.

    I think I will be adding this to my collection. Also, Avenger, I do hope they are doing Flashpoint. That was a great book!

    • You mean a more seasoned Batman? He gives that vibe from Person Of Interest.

  5. Awesome! Didn’t know the were doing it as a two part. I hate waiting xD

  6. there was a snipit of the Dark Knight Returns that i saw in animated form a few years back and thanks to Wiki, i now know where..”An episode of The New Batman Adventures, entitled “Legends of the Dark Knight,” depicted a scene directly based on both of Batman’s showdowns with the Mutants’ leader (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson). Michael Ironside, who provided the voice of Darkseid in the DC Animated Universe, lend the voice of The Dark Knight Returns version of Batman. It originally aired on October 10, 1998.”

    very cool stuff.

  7. This sounds like it’s going to be very cool…Peter Weller should easily do the older Dark Knight justice. Two parts? That’s…interesting. It’s not surprising considering the material, but I just hadn’t heard that they are making it a double release.

    As for a “Flashpoint” animated film, I hope they DO make it…great series.

  8. Kevin Conroy is THE VOICE of Batman. PERIOD. That aside I MIGHT give this a viewing anyway.

    • So…after he retires, dies, or (worse!) just gets bored with the whole Batman voice-acting thing, you’re saying DC should NEVER again make a Batman animated film or series???

      Ummm, no.

      Plenty of people can do the voice of Batman…Peter Weller has the voice and acting chops to do it excellently.

      • P.S. I’m not ignoring your final statement; it’s just that it sounded almost as if you’d have to be bribed or sacrifice a virgin or somesuch to be able to sit through (GASP!) another actor voicing Batman…

      • Agree 100%

      • Yes

  9. I was hoping for brian cranston to do the older batman, he could really have done something with it. yea i know he voiced gordon already, but i think hed work better as old batman.

    • I don’t know, to me Bryan Cranston just IS Commissioner Gordon. I tried to picture him as an aging Batman too, because I like the idea. But I just couldn’t get past how Gordon he was.

  10. This looks solid.

  11. Two more for the collection. DC is kicking some boonky in the animation dept, not over the top anime’ic!

  12. I’d throw my vote in for Bruce Greenwood. If they made a live action adaptation, I’d put him in the suit, too.

    He’s the right age and he’s the only actor other than Kevin Conroy that I legitimately liked as Batman, when he voiced him for Red Hood.

    I kinda wish these movies were in-continuity with each other, too, though Todd coming back for Red Hood, but still being dead for DKR does pose a pretty big problem.

  13. Doesn’t anybody remember Michael Ironside’s performance as TDKR BATMAN in BTAS episode “Legends Of The Dark Knight”? To me his voice is the definitive “older” Batman.

    • I totally agree. I was hoping that he’d reprise the role because it was so perfect. But honestly, I can get excited for Peter Weller as DKR Batman. That’s good casting. I gotta hear him in action though to be sure, because Ironside’s gonna be hard to beat.

  14. FEMALE ROBIN??? WTF STUPID. Ok let’s make two face, Batman, Killer Croc etc a female also

    • Can somebody else tell this guy how ill-informed he is?

    • I’m guessing you’ve not read the graphic novel then, shane; trust me, it’s not handled stupidly. ;-)

    • read a freaking comic.

    • Read MOAR.

      • I give up. What’s MOAR?

        • More + ROAR! :-)

    • ???? You evidently have not read Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” or you wouldn’t pose that question.

  15. I hate it when Batman is old

  16. I”m down for the casting, and the animation looks pretty cool. But I was hoping for a less polished, more hand-drawn looking style. Anybody feel me? Something like the original Heavy Metal or the animated series at the start, but BETTER.
    It does looke like they’re doing their best to create a color scheme and style that is at least as memorable as Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s original art. Varley’s colors are tough to match, but it looks like they’re pushing for something that’s different from the other animated movies and I love that.

    • I know what you mean about hoping for a better approximation of Miller and Janson’s linework (I was a bit underwhelmed by the “ironing-out” of Dave Mazzucchelli’s style in what I’ve seen of Year One too, although I haven’t seen the full movie yet) – guess they thought they were taking enough chances with the cast.

  17. Peter Weller’s an interesting choice: the only reservation I have comes from hearing him as the William Burroughs character in Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch, reciting “The Man Who Taught His @**hole To Talk” monologue. After hearing Burroughs himself reading the same routine, Weller sounded bland, bored and characterless by comparison. Mind you, I haven’t seen him in anything for a very long time, so…

  18. Peter Weller? I thought they’d go with Adam West! :D

    • I would pay so much money to hear that. So, so much.

  19. What, no Tim Curry? One word, four letters: FAIL.

  20. Michael Ironside should have been cast to reprise his role in the New Batman Adventures episode “Legends of the Dark Knight”.

    • It’s rubber bullets. Honest.

  21. please keep on bringing the batman mythos next on the list is long halloween

  22. Not being Kevin Conroy kind of shook me up for a sec, he’s earned the right to do The Dark Knight Returns. But Peter Weller could be kinda great, after I thought ‘Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.’ :) And Robocop was clearly influenced by TDKR.

    And I’m really glad they’re doing a two parter. Batman: Year One was a real stinker and letdown, considering how great the source material was. However, TDKR is more cartoony and operatic whereas Year One was more mundane (and that’s not a put-down), so maybe it will adapt better to animation design and tone wise. Don’t screw this one up, Warner Bros.

    • Wonder what Kevin would say to re-doing the voice after the movie comes out, even as a private stunt. It’s just a sound track out and another one in. Hamill, too. Eh, contracts probably cover that. Can’t, even on his own time.

  23. I always been hoping they would make feature films to JLU. Like the cancled Justice League: World’s Collide that bridges the gap between Justice League & JLU. Or some other film.

  24. “You don’t get it ,son. This isn’t a trash heap, it’s an operating table.”

    CRACK!!! “AAAAHHHHH!!!!!”

    “And I’m the surgeon.”

    Best line ever.
    They should have cast Ironside.

  25. I prefer Bruce Greenwood to voice Batman.
    Perfect voice for the character!

    • I don’t think he can pull of a 55 year old voice for Batman. Michael Ironside did and did it well.

  26. I’m huge fan of Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, I use to have dreams of his book turned into a movie and remember dreaming about Batman fighting in the mud pit, sounds of him jumping from roof top to roof top in the silence of a cold eery night. This was so many years ago but I love certain comic art and at the time Miller’s crew was so different to what had been done before. At first I questioned the art work of DKR but then realized how perfect it was. My only hope is that they do not employ the same studios that do the animated series on TV or the last movie Batman: Year One. Sorry, but I hated so much and said I would never watch this style if they did it to Miller’s novel for a movie. His DKR is not the same as the TV show, please don’t fuk this up, its a golden egg you have in your hands. Do it right or let be.

    In the meantime as I am such a fan of the book a while back I did some photography art Based on Miller’s Dark Knight Returns if your interested, click on the link and check it out.

    http://www.bangshock.com/2011/01/16/creative-on-a-dark-knight/

  27. This animated version of “The Dark Knight Returns” is long overdue. In my opinion, Peter Weller will do a fine job as Batman/Bruce. I only hope that the movie follow the book exactly as it was written and drawn. Hopefully, it will not be a terrible animated version like “Death of Superman.” So, please do not mess this one up, DC.

  28. Man, I wanted Michael Ironside to do it like he did in that small bit of DKR in the animated series.

    • Artists hate doing the obvious. They shouldn’t play poker; we always know they’ll play the unexpected card. They distrust and discard what everyone expects should be done.

  29. bad move i think not using conroy as batmans voice ,, big bad move.. kevin conroy is the shizzznit.