by Kroze Kresky, Media Editor
When you look back at the entire history of Batman, there are only a handful of story lines that have truly defined Batman as a comic; despite being around for more than fifty years, fans always look back to these few titles that stood out and really left a mark on the entire fanbase. Titles such as Death In The Family, The Killing Joke, The Long Halloween, Batman: Year One, Hush and No Man’s Land are some of the best tales of our hero, but when you ask fans to collectively choose one of those stories, a single name will always rise to the top: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. In 1986, Batman was almost going to be cancelled because of lack of interest in the brand. A writer named Frank Miller, whose work on the Daredevil comic series brought the hero out of obscurity, decided to take on the task of using his own personal style to completely revamp the hero with this story. It blew up along with interest in Batman once again for comic book readers everywhere. The Dark Knight Returns would become known for saving Batman and becoming an instant classic.
After such a long successful run of DC Universe Animated movies, the team at Warner Premiere has finally listened to the fan cries everywhere and have decided to adapt this monumental story into an animated feature length film. Once again with Bruce Timm at the helm, the team decided the only way to really do this story justice was not to cut ANYTHING from the book and instead bring the story over panel by panel into an animated medium. Of course, in order to do such a thing without leaving anything out, because the story is so long the decision was made to split the entire storyline into two movies and thus Batman: The Dark Knight Rises Part 1 was born.
In the movie, it is now the future in Gotham and Bruce Wayne has hung up the cowl for the past decade. The Batman is now just a myth to the gangs and people on the streets. A lonesome memory of a forgotten era. In Batman’s absence, crime and corruption have returned to all of Gotham in the face of a gang called “The Mutants” who control everything. The streets aren’t safe, families are scared and there is no way of knowing what exactly these Mutants will do next. After hearing about the previously reformed Harvey Dent’s new wave of crime, Bruce Wayne finally has enough of this bullshit and decides to take on the name Batman once again…only, now that he has been out of action for so long (and is now 55 years old), can he manage to live up to the image he once was? Bruce’s return also prompts a young 13 year old girl by the name of Carrie – who has finally had enough herself of how society has deteriorated in the absence of Batman – to build herself a costume and take on the legacy of being Robin.
While many people clamored for Kevin Conroy to jump back in the lead role he has been known for since the 90s, the creative team decided to go in a different direction and brought Peter Weller (best known for being Robocop) in to play a more weary, battle warped Batman after years being out of commission. Weller does a fantastic job portraying a more ruthless version of the hero that we all know and gives the role some serious bite. Ariel Winter (of Modern Family fame) was brought in to be the first animated girl Robin ever. She brings all of the snark and sass needed to bring Carrie to life in ways readers of the original story could only dream about. The entire cast does a great job (now to be expected for these series of DC Animated movies that Warner Premiere has been cranking out) and really brings the story to life, being 100% faithful to the original source material.
Speaking of being faithful to the source, the animation and style of the entire film nails the look and feel Frank Miller was going for completely when envisioning this new era of Gotham back in ’86. Just like Batman: Year One before it, the animation team blows it out of the park, giving much ambiance and depth to each and every scene. This was obviously a huge undertaking to bring such an iconic and legendary story to film but the entire production team nails it completely.
- Her Name is Carrie…. Her Role Is Robin featurette: An in-depth look into what would be come the first female Robin and her role in The Dark Knight Returns
- Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story featurette: A short biography into the creation of Batman by legendary comic creator and co-founder of DC Comics Bob Kane
- Preview of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Digital Comic
- From the Vault: Two Iconic bonus cartoons
- Digital Ultra Violet copy of the movie
This is a masterful adaptation of the first two issues in The Dark Knight Returns mini-series, covering everything the comic had to offer and bringing it to life as if it was always meant to be an animated movie. It’s important to note that a lot of elements from The Dark Knight Returns were actually adapted recently into Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises movie that finished off his Batman trilogy of films, including the whole Batman coming out of retirement after nearly a decade. But where those scenes feel a bit awkward and forced in the live action film, here in their original context they truly show that Bruce Wayne will never be able to be done with Batman. The story is gripping and while this film is billed as a “Part 1″, it leaves off at a satisfying conclusion to make viewers feel content in what they just watched, but also gives a nice cliffhanger to what is coming in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 2 (Michael Emmerson as The Joker really can’t come soon enough!). If you are a hardcore fan of the miniseries this is a must watch. If you have never before read The Dark Knight Returns, this is a must watch. If you are a fan of comics at all then this is a must watch. If you have never heard of Batman before in your life and have never seen anything Batman then you are a horrible dirty liar and this is a must watch (after watching the previous animated movie Batman: Year One also written by Frank Miller which goes over Batman’s origin – masterfully). If you are a person and are alive, this is a must watch. If you are dead then fight your way back through time to become alive again or throw on a Black Lantern ring because this is a MUST WATCH!
ComicsOnline gives Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 – 5 batarangs out of 5!
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