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 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.