Among hardcore comic book fans, there are few tales as memorable and iconic as The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller’s 1986 contribution to the Batman mythos (even Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy capper The Dark Knight Rises borrowed several plot points and themes from Miller’s work). Which is why it's no surprise that the story is in the process of being adapted as a two-part animated film.
Although we've already seen the film's trailer, Warner Bros.’ first clip from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 offers a glimpse into the aesthetic and tone of the project. The animation looks like a more modern incarnation of the classic 1990s Batman: The Animated Series.
Bruce Timm - who served as a writer on B:TAS and has remained involved with Batman's animated adventures - is executive producing the film with original RoboCop Peter Weller as the aged Caped Crusader himself.
For those Bat-fans who haven’t read the graphic novel on which this film is based, here’s the official synopsis:
It’s been a decade since Bruce Wayne hung up his cape, following most of the other superheroes who had been forced into retirement. Facing the downside of middle age, a restless Bruce Wayne pacifies his frustration with race cars and liquor – but the bat still beckons as he watches his city fall prey to gangs of barbaric criminals known as The Mutants.
The return of Harvey Dent as Two-Face finally prompts Wayne to once again don the Dark Knight’s cowl, and his dramatic capture of the villain returns him to crime-fighting – simultaneously making him the target of law enforcement and the new hope for a desolate Gotham City. Particularly inspired is a teenage girl named Carrie, who adopts the persona of Robin and ultimately saves Batman from a brutal attack by the Mutant leader. Armed with a new sidekick, and re-energized with a definitive purpose, the Dark Knight returns to protect Gotham from foes new...and old.
Longtime fans and comic book aficionados will likely rejoice that this story is being adapted, but newbies to this particular Batman story may feel a sense of déjà vu, given the noticeable parallels between this film and The Dark Knight Rises. Even the Gotham police officers' reaction to Batman’s sudden reappearance is almost identical to the one in Rises.
Whether or not this animated incarnation lives up to the hype, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 is likely to be as divisive a film for the geek community as Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, with some praising the loyalty to the source material (the lack of a squid notwithstanding) and others criticizing its comparative shallowness.
What do you think, Screen Rant readers? Judging by this clip, is The Dark Knight Returns getting the treatment it deserves?
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 25th. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 will follow in early 2013.