Batman has seen many iterations on screen, and multiple actors have donned the famous cape and cowl associated with the superhero. In the 1960s, Adam West portrayed a campy version of Batman – teamed with Burt Ward’s Robin – who closely resembled the comics at the time. However, in the ’80s and ’90s, Batman took a darker turn in Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns. Since then, Bruce Wayne has returned to the big screen with his alter ego in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and will again be seen in next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
As many fans know, the change in Batman’s on screen characterization in the ’80s was largely a result of Frank Miller’s highly acclaimed The Dark Knight Returns comic/graphic miniseries, which was published in 1986. Miller penned and drew a sequel series, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, in 2001-2002, and will again be revisiting the Dark Knight mythos with a new series.
DC Comics announced Miller will complete the Dark Knight trilogy with The Dark Knight III: The Master Race. He will co-write the eight-issue series with Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets, Wonder Woman), which will debut late Fall 2015. Azzarello assured fans that they have created “an epic story that these characters truly deserve.”
Additionally, Miller said that returning to the Dark Knight series will be “daunting, but we’ll do our best.” The writer also responded to the news on Twitter by posting a teaser poster for The Dark Knight III: The Master Race, which features a bleeding Superman insignia.
I hope that by now my silence is deafening pic.twitter.com/4E0xi4LHju— Frank Miller (@FrankMillerInk) April 24, 2015
Though it has been nearly 30 years since Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns was originally published, the timing of The Dark Knight III: The Master Race is likely meant to tie in with Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice debuting next year. Of course, Ben Affleck’s Batman will be an older and battle-weary superhero, which is heavily influenced by the similarly seasoned character in The Dark Knight Returns.
The Dark Knight Returns is widely considered to be one of the best graphic series of all time, and was successful in reinvisioning Batman for the modern era – as well as inspiring new or revamped characters across the comics industry. However, its sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, wasn’t nearly as well-received.
With such high acclaim from The Dark Knight Returns to live up to, it’s understandable why Miller may call the task of returning for another sequel “daunting.” It’s unlikely The Dark Knight III: The Master Race will reinvent the character of Batman or influence comics in the same manner as its predecessor, but perhaps, with the help of Azzarello, the new series will capture some of what fans appreciated about The Dark Knight Returns.
The Dark Knight III: The Master Race is expected to debut Fall 2015. An artist has yet to be announced for the book.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will hit theaters March 25th, 2016.