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