‘The Dark Knight Returns’ Trailer: Frank Miller’s Story Is Brought to Animated Life

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Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is a revolutionary comic book that, in combination with Batman: Year One (also by Miller), established the grisly and gloomy tone of the contemporary Batman universe back in the 1980s. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was heavily influenced by Miller’s graphic literature, and Dark Knight Rises borrows plot elements from Miller’s tale (about Bruce Wayne resurrecting his identity as the Caped Crusader, to battle a new threat).

Miller’s troubling vision of Gotham City no longer has the ability to shock as it once did, but that might not matter, as the trailer for the first half of DC’s Dark Knight Returns feature adaptation suggests it remains as entertaining as ever (even in cleaner, hand-drawn animation form).

The trailer for DC’s animated take on The Dark Knight Returns offers a sneak peek at how Peter Weller (the original RoboCop) does voicing a battered, but resilient, silver-haired iteration of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The preview delivers a fast-as-lightning rundown of major plot points carried over from Miller’s comic, while also providing a sneak peek at 13-year old “female Robin” Carrie Kelley (Ariel Winter).

It’s also interesting to note the distinct similarities and differences between Bane’s militaristic campaign against Gotham City in Dark Knight Rises and the hellfire reigned down by the Mutants in Dark Knight Returns (that highlights the influence of Miller’s original story on Nolan’s film).

dark knight returns trailer The Dark Knight Returns Trailer: Frank Millers Story Is Brought to Animated Life

Dark Knight Returns is directed by Jay Oliva, a storyboard artist on Zack Snyder’s upcoming Superman reboot, Man of Steel, and appears to realize Miller’s story in an exhilarating, cinematic, fashion. Weller’s voice may be a sticking point for fans who feel older Bruce Wayne should’ve been Kevin Conroy, while the comparatively refined drawing style and warmer color palette may bother fans who prefer the course texture and harsh colors of Klaus Janson’s panels from Miller’s comic.

DC’s Batman: Year One animated adaptation presents similar issues for many comic book enthusiasts (read our review), but others are willing to overlook such issues and revel in the joy of seeing Miller’s gritty source material in motion. That’s to say: whatever your general feelings about DC’s previous animated offering, you may have a similar opinion about Dark Knight Returns (take that as you will).

The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 hits DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Download on September 25th, 2012. Part 2 should arrive in early 2013.

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Source: MTV Geek

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TAGS: batman, the dark knight returns

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  1. Looking forward to this for sure. But yeah, I wish Kevin Conroy was voicing Batman again. I even would’nt mind Bruce Greenwood again.

  2. it looks good, even with the nipple spikes, haha

  3. That does not sound like Bruce Wayne/Batman at all.
    IMO Kevin Conroy is THE voice of the Bat, but there have been other voice actors that have done an adequate/good job as well.
    This guy however… no… just, no.

    The animation doesn’t look too bad though… I prefer the more detailed and sharper animation (like Young Justice), but I understand that that specific style might not work so well with this movie(s).

    Guess I’ll wait for the reviews to come in first, but I’m definitely not pre-ordering this, nor do I have much hope that this’ll be good.

    • Couldn’t have said it better myself. And on all accounts, really.

  4. Weller sounds better than the voice actor from Batman Year One. I’m glad they’re doing some of the darker and more popular graphic novels. I’ll be more interested to see what they tackle next.

    • Hpoefully Killing Joke or Knightfall. Maybe Hush.

      • I’ve actually been hoping for “Batman: No Man’s Land” for quite some time now.

    • I agree, the voice from Year One was really bad, this is slightly better.

    • Agreed. Peter Weller sounds surprisingly effective.
      Conroy is the man but absent him Weller sounds solid.

  5. I’m not a big comic fan i.e I’ve only ever read The Killing Joke and The Dark Knight Returns. The Killing Joke sucked so badly, and to think people say it is the best Batman comic of all time……TDKR was very different though. The story was pretty farfetched but I really liked the writing. The newscaster giving all the background info was brilliant. Even though the stories were all convoluted it was like watching a movie unfold. Plus there were some really cool parts like the Joker at the circus and Batman escaping from all the police officers. I’m gonna watch this for sure.

  6. I dont see how anyone can complain about this voice. Its sounds similar to the one in the Animated series when they did a homage to this story. Peter Weller sounds BA to me. In know everyone is saying “Kevin Conroy Is Batman” and such but I can honestly say I’m ready for someone else to do the voice. As long as they keep all the violence and the cool part from the comics, I’m happy.

  7. Meh

    • big old meh.

      just read the comics people.

      • They already did this in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series.

        It was 10 minutes. I guess this is just more content?

  8. those are my favourite comic books, and i mean from all graphic novels that i have read. you can find in the whole nolan trilogy eastereggs and scenes or referrencess from those two comics.

  9. The Batman and Mutant Leader from the 10 minute segment in an episode called “Legends of The Dark Knight” sounds perfect compared to theses terrible voice overs Bruce Timm and his troops over at DC COmics keep casting for example I just watched Batman:Year one again after watching Sin City and the voice over of Bruce Wayne is so Bad that It sounds like an audition reading for a script I as a fan am requesting that DC Animation admit that they were wrong in choosing Benjamin McKenzie and do a re-edit redubbing someone else voice like Brad pit, Clint eastwood anybody but make sure they can read already and rerelease the damn thing so that I can buy it again and actually enjoy it this time a whole lot more Thank You

  10. I meant to say Bruce Timm and his troops over at DC Animation the voice over of Bruce Wayne in Batman:Year One is so Bad that its a disgrace to anyone who ever loved Batman because this guy Benjamin Mckenzie sounds like he was in a rush getting to work and very unprepare to convince an audience for arguably one of the most inportant or relevent Graphic Novels of all time that he is Bruce Wayne. Here’s the thing every one who knows Bruce knows that he is haunted and tormented by what happened to his parents however however the TONE in Benjamin’s Mckenzie’s dialog doesnt convey torment, at all he doesnt even sound like he is talking to any one at all thought bubbles are still adressing readers or viewers even thow though they are depicted as in the characters mind. In addition the voice over lacks feeling and emotion and it is a terrible fit for any character as popular as Batman for God sakes Batman has put more money in DC Animation’s pockets then any of there other characters so if they would please do this one thing right and take more consideration for those whom they choose to voice our hero Batman and re issue out a re edit of Batman Year one with a new actor voicing Bruce Waynes voice

  11. I meant to say Bruce Timm and his troops over at DC Animation the voice over of Bruce Wayne in Batman:Year One is so Bad that its a disgrace to anyone who ever loved Batman because this guy Benjamin Mckenzie sounds like he was in a rush getting to work and very unprepare to convince an audience for arguably one of the most inportant or relevent Graphic Novels of all time that he is Bruce Wayne. Here’s the thing every one who knows Bruce knows that he is haunted and tormented by what happened to his parents however however the TONE in Benjamin’s Mckenzie’s dialog doesnt convey torment, at all he doesnt even sound like he is talking to any one at all thought bubbles are still adressing readers or viewers even thow though they are depicted as in the characters mind. In addition the voice over lacks feeling and emotion and it is a terrible fit for any character as popular as Batman for God sakes Batman has put more money in DC Animation’s pockets then any of there other characters so if they would please do this one thing right and take more consideration for those whom they choose to voice our hero Batman and re issue out a re edit of Batman Year one with a new actor voicing Bruce Waynes voice

    • LMAO – Disgrace? you wanna talk disgrace START with Christian Bale. Worst batman ever. This sounds no where as bad as the incoherent gibberish bale SCREAMS out. This looks tight – can’t wait for it.

      • Ritty…

        In terms of THIS, I agree that it feels right.

        In terms of Bale as Batman, I WHOLEHEARTEDLY disagree with you.

  12. Dear God, it won’t play and it isn’t available on YouTube! Save me ScreenRant! Save ME! I must see this trailer ASAP!

  13. PFT! I find it funny to acknowledge nolan’s films first when referring to this book.

  14. Looking forward to this but..I would’ve rather seen either Kevin Conroy voice bat man or Clint Eastwood. IDK why but when ever I read the dark knight I picture Clint East woods voice as bat-man

    • I would have liked to hear keaton’s voice or Kevin Conroy. Am I the only one who ever dug Adam West’s voicing Batman? Super Friends had it best seasons with him as Batman. I dunno if Family Guy has ruined him lol but I’d like to hear his voice under the cowl again. He was a million times more batman than bale…for example.

      • No. He REALLY was not.

        • I agree lol. The cheesy, campy, and all around goofy Adam West Batman was nowhere near as good as any of the Bats. Okay, he was better than Clooney, but that’s it.

          • Adam west fit the TIME for batman but..when came to the actual CHARACTER of batman he would just ruin it. He’s too campy andwould make the film feel like a joke. The Dark knight Returns was suppose to be a dark and troubled time for the DC universe so having Adam west be batman for this film would be like having Jim Carry act as James Bond.

            • Did you guys even actually ever watch his batman? Campy? The tone of series may be but his Batman is pretty centered. He wasn’t running around telling jokes or smiling all the time. Check out the super friends episode where they told his origin for the first time. Not a bunch laughs there… He was everything batman was supposed to be. Much along the lines of Batman Brave and the Bold – never had a problem with that batman either. I liked him better than bale too. Bale was worse than the serial batman of the 40′s…at least that guy didn’t scream and yell gibberish at people.

              • Ritty…

                Yes, I DID watch the shows–all 3–and enjoyed them…for the light entertainment they were meant to be.

                Bale’s Batman was layered and intriguing, and I found his voice fit quite well into the world he was trying to protect.

                Simple enough…

  15. Please tell me Hammil is Joker!!

  16. LOL @ the end “BATMAN The Dark Night Returns”?

  17. Peter Weller sounds awesome! I cannot wait!!

  18. Can’t wait for this. Would like to see DC do Emperor Joker somewhere down the road and get Daly, Conroy, and Hamill to do their respective characters. That would be a fun one to watch. If any of you haven’t read Emperor Joker I would highly suggest it. The material is there for an awesome DC animated movie.

  19. Kevin Conroy isn’t the voice of Batman? Pass…

  20. This both looks and sounds great. I am looking forward to it. They seem to be keeping the brutal essence of the comic while cleaning up the look a bit for the animation to work effectively (The comic’s story was excellent, but I found the artwork mildly irritating, so this is a definite improvement).

    I’m always amused by how many fans think Conroy is the ONLY animated Batman…I think DC has had great voice actors as Batman in their films and shows, BESIDES just him. Weller’s voice sounds perfect as the older, obssessed, world-weary Batman of Miller’s grim future, cyberpunk-noir tale.

    Definitely a release-day purchase for me…

  21. I haven’t read the comics, but why is there a girl Robin? Is it only in that book that this is based on that there’s a girl Robin?

  22. Conroy wouldn’t have worked, he’s a Timmverse guy primarily, especially considering DKR is an elseworlds tale, you need something to totally differentiate this animated batman from the other. Michael Ironside was THE perfect DKR batman, but they couldn’t get him so Weller should do fine, and he sounds fine.

  23. The city looks too normal… And Batman isn’t right unless the voice coming out of his mouth is Kevin Conroy.

    Still, looks decent.

    • The city looks too normal…kinda like Nolan’s universe? Burton’s Gotham is still the best Gotham.

  24. I wish they’d just remaster the DC Animated Universe and release it on Blu-Ray.
    If they’d do that, I would literally throw money at my screen until I can hit the pre-order button. This however, is (as Nagai said so poetically ;)) “meh”.

    • Batman The Animated Series on Blu ray… I’d pay a fortune for that. Some serious money.

      • That would be awesome!

  25. Why does it have to be in 2 parts..? i’m waiting for the complete film… its looks awesome , so much better than the piece of dross called the Dark knight rises

    • Dross? Not even close…IMO, MASTERPIECE would more accurately describe it.

  26. Seeing Batman shoot a gun= *facepalm.

    • Have you read the source material? Batman is much more brutal in this story than in his normal (and present-day) stories…

      • No I haven’t but I do remember watching a special about Batman and they showed a pic of him with a gun so I assume it was from this comic. To me it just doesn’t feel right seeing Batman use a gun because the Batman I’m used to doesn’t kill and hates em because his parents were gunned down. That’s my thoughts anyway

        • Well, it’s not a freaking gun. That’s why I hate specualtion.

  27. I prefer Bruce Greenwood as the voice of Batman.
    To me, he’s the best!

  28. There are opinions, which of course everyone is entitled to, and there are facts.
    Since I’ve read Miller’s “the dark knight returns”, years ago, I always thought that it was one of the worst graphic novels I’ve evere seen in my life. Not just because is totally right-winged (and basically fascist) but also because it was badly written. The damn thing TOTALLY screws up any possible suspension of disbelief just the second it introduces a THIRTEEN years old girl to be the new Robin and she starts to kick people’s ass.

    @Joseph, who thought that “the Killing Joke” sucked… I really don’t see how anyone can say something like this. TKJ was a layered, complex, psychological story… whil TDKR is, basically, a violent tale about how everyone who is slightly different from “normal” (mutants) has to be a bad guy and must be asskicked.

    Anyway, that were opinions. Let’s come to facts: Nolan/Bale’s Batman is, simply, the best thing that could have happen to the batman universe, that was previosly treated like light child-oriented entertainemtn (the ’40′s and 1966 tv shows), or like a set for fairytales (Burton).

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