Frank Miller’s 1986 genre defining and milestone graphic novel, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns has been adapted in the latest installments of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies. The extended storyline demanded that the story—initially broken into four chapters—be broken up into two parts. The highly anticipated last chapter was made available on Blu-Ray, DVD or Download on January 29th. The Dark Knight Returns as a comic defined the look and tone of Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego for a generation, twisting both tropes of the comic book page and the media’s 24/7 news cycle down to their aging knees while all the while inexplicably breathing new life and reflection on both. We’re hard pressed to find fault with DC attempting to share the story with a new audience in a new medium, and aside from dyed in the wool fanboy nit picks, we’ve gone in depth comparing and contrasting the original art form with the movies to be mostly satisfied with the result. Peter Weller (Robocop, Star Trek: Into Darkness) stars as the aging Batman, eventually facing the maniacal Joker voiced by Michael Emerson (Ben Linus onLost, Person of Interest).
Both the movie and the book start out with a moustachioed and retired Bruce Wayne (Earth-31) totaling his racecar over the finish line in the Ferris 6000 motor race. After cheating death, Bruce meets up with outgoing Commissioner Jim Gordon for more than a few drinks and then a solo stroll through Crime Alley. He is confronted by some of the Mutant gang and scares the boys away. A restless night and a trip to Batcave after the encounter with Gotham’s new string of baddies motivates Batman back into the cowl, to the chagrin of our faithful Alfred Pennyworth. Sound familiar?
Christopher Nolan (and Tim Burton, for that matter) have a lot to owe this book for characterization and major plot points.
Another animated property, Batman Beyond owes it’s entire existence and frequently nods at this touchstone of future Bat-legacy.
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