In 1986 Frank Miller redefined Batman in with the Dark Knight Returns miniseries. In this dark and twisted tale about Batman coming out of retirement, Miller was able to make “Bat-fans” forget all about the camp of the Batman TV series. Instead we are left with a brutal, haunted and savage Batman.
Ok, so here is the download of the Dark Knight Returns, Part 1. Bruce Wayne has retired from being Batman after the death of Jason Todd (2 years before DC Comics actually killed him in the comics mind you). He is looking for new and different ways to end it all by red lining race cars and walking through the most dangerous parts of Gotham all just looking for an excuse to push himself.
So when a new threat pops up in Gotham, the Mutants and the newly “healed” Harvey Dent disappears, Batman has no choice but to suit up and take care of business. And take care of business he does, by reclaiming Gotham, finding a new Robin and setting us up for a Part 2 story that will be one of the more epic Joker appearances ever.
So solid, voice casting. Solid animation. Was there anything wrong with the Dark Knight Returns, Part 1? Not really, it is a little slow at times, but so was the book. The movie did a great job capturing much of what Miller put into the first half of the mini-series.
If I’m picking Batman tales from the mid 1980′s as my go to story to grab off my shelf, 9 times out of 10 I’m going with another of Miller’s masterpieces Year One. That is why when Batman: Year One came out on Blu-Ray recently I was left disappointed by the finished product. I was left wondering if the next Batman animated feature would leave me as unfulfilled. Then DC Entertainment released the amazing Superman vs. the Elite (aside from the art) this summer and I had a renewed faith in DC Entertainment.
Now you’ve got to be asking yourself… “Why would a Superman movie give you faith in the next Batman movie?” It is not just the source material that got me pumped, nope not just the source material. It was the voice casting of Peter Weller (Robocop) and Michael Emerson (Lost) as Batman and the Joker respectively. Does it get better than that, honestly?
If the Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 had a misstep, it was the exclusion of the political landscape of a Regan-era United States that was grounded in fear, corruption and lies. A world where good people look the other way while bad things happen. Where I thought Superman vs. the Elite would be Supes yelling, “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!”, without the political background, the Batman was kind of reduced to just a grumpy old curmudgeon.
If you are at all familiar with the Dark Knight Returns you know Frank Miller has a very distinct style, and I’m happy to say they used his designs as the staging point and cleaned them up a good bit, creating a unique style that was dark and gritty, yet clean and fresh all staying true to Batman. So while this movie is by no means perfect, it is worth picking up. Besides the actual movie the Blu-ray is packed full of great features, the best of which is the look at Carrie Kelly… Robin.