The Dark Knight Returns Pt. 1

The Dark Knight Returns Pt. 1 2012

No, this isn’t a typo of some shortened cut of the Dark Knight Rises, instead it’s a brand new DC animation. There are a few similarities, but in this version Batman retired for 10 years, not 8. He was in his sixties, not his forties. He’s fighting the Mutant leader and the Mutants, not Bane and the League of Shadows. I believe this also in some way follows Under the Red Hood, as they refer to Jason’s death, who was the second Robin. I’ve been a fan of DC animation for a while now, and they haven’t personally let me down yet. I know there are some people who have issues with the way they don’t entirely follow the comics in some of the features, but since I don’t follow the comics, they’re all fresh to me and just plain amazing storytelling. The movies just keep getting better and better and this one is no exception. I especially like the fact that while this movie is labelled with the sometimes accursed “part 1”, it doesn’t feel like only half of the story. There is a full fledged story told entirely within this one movie, but it also does a great job at laying the groundwork to make you excited for the upcoming part 2 next year.

The voice acting, as usual for these DC animated movies, was excellent even if they didn’t get any of the usual suspects from the animated series like Kevin Conroy. Playing older Bruce Wayne/Batman is Peter Weller who was the original Robocop, and he did an admirable job of it. This isn’t exactly the same Bruce Wayne that we’re used to seeing. He’s taken up drinking to help take his mind off of what he really wants to be doing. I also thought David Selby did a great job with Commissioner Gordon during his final days as commissioner, and his few scenes talking directly with Bruce Wayne. The mutant leader was a little over the top, but nothing too detrimental to the movie.

Raindrops keep falling on my head.

The visual style of the movie was fantastic, with a lot of both stylized and more realistic violence. There is once again a recreation of the moment where Bruce Wayne’s parents died, but it is both brief, and hauntingly beautiful. There is a lot of blood and violence in this movie, the most by far of any of these animated movies I’ve seen to date. This is the title where DC really wants to show that they’ve grown up and can take these animated movies seriously. Now they just need to take the next step and release one theatrically. While most of the fight scenes between Batman and the random villains are fairly bloodless, yet still bone crunchingly violent. And both of the fights between the mutant leader really take it to the next level.

The narrative style relies heavily on random news reports, including an extremely overweight Lana Lang who is affiliated with the Daily Planet, there’s also a brief mention of James Olsen owning a large entertainment company, and the anti-Batman psychologist is seen early on wearing a Superman t-shirt. It was an interesting way to get the exposition across that’s not always used in an animated movie, even if it seemed a little exaggerated at times, when every single station is covering some crime or another. Of course, it is also implied that it’s at least partly inside Bruce’s head as one of the television scenes end with him watching himself on TV watching himself on TV etc. There are a lot of these little visual/narrative touches scattered throughout the movie that I really enjoyed.

The only real problem I had with this movie was the character Carrie Kelley. I like the idea of a girl Robin, but she just didn’t really get enough motivation. At least as portrayed in this movie, she’s just kind of a tough girl that puts on a Robin costume and goes out looking for trouble. And due to the fact that she helps out Batman a little bit during his first fight with the Mutants, it’s enough for Batman to trust her with his secrets and take her under his wing as his new Robin. The first after the death of Jason Todd. I didn’t initially have a problem with it while watching the movie, but it does seem like she moves pretty quickly, I do hope that she does get a little more backstory in part 2, but at least she’s not some annoying kid character.

The two sides of “Face” as he’s called in this movie.

This movie is being presented as a part 1, and there is quite a bit of set up for part 2 that makes me quite excited to see it next year. At the end of this movie, there is a new commissioner in Gotham that is opposed to the idea of Batman, unlike commissioner Gordon, there is a splinter group of gang members who have taken up the name of Batman to use for unknown purposes, and there is the set up of the return of the Joker, who is often overused in the Batman universe, but is also always an interesting character. If I were to rank the DC animated movies that I’ve seen so far, I would put Under the Red Hood at the top, and this one would sit right below it as the number two spot. If you’re a fan of these animated movies, do yourself a favor and check it out. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.


About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 500 superhero and comic book movies in the past seven years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on September 17, 2012, in 10's movies, DC and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. The curious thing is that this is based on Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns,” which is the turning point for DC treating Batman as a deadly serious broodster. Fantastic art and writing in that graphic novel. I’m curious what changes they made from the source material here; in there the mutants were a very minor menace, just a way to get Batman back in the saddle for larger confrontations later on.

    • Just based on that, they probably ramped up their presence, as they are most of the focus in this movie. But ultimately they are just a way to get Batman back in the saddle for larger things only hinted at in this part. Hearing it put that way makes me even more interested to see part 2 when it finally comes out.

  2. I’ve been hoping you would review this one, as I was very curious to see how the adaptation was. Dark Knight Returns blew my mind when I read it as a kid, and I’ve always thought it would make a great movie. From what you said it sounds like they did a great job. One of these days I’ll have to get aroun to seeing this one. Enjoyed the review!

  3. I’m excited to see this one myself. I’m less concerned about changes to the story and more interested in the way they adapted Frank Miller’s art style to the animation. What made me love the comic so much was his way of crafting scenes with dramatic effect. This was the comic that made me fully realize that, in the right hands, comics could do stuff that no other medium could accomplish.

    I remember one scene about a middle aged woman on the subway buying art supplies for her son. I mentally dissected that one page scene thoroughly, and ultimately decided there was no way you could ever put that scene in a movie, or a novel, or any other form of story while keeping the same impact it had on the page. I actually hope that scene isn’t in the movie, since I’m sure it would only disappoint me.

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