Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1
September 26, 2012

The latest original DC animated movie is Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1, out yesterday. No review for you this time — due to my move and the resulting confusion over address changes, I didn’t get a copy — but here are some images.

I figure we all know the story already, right, since it’s based on the industry changing Frank Miller graphic novel. (Which once upon a time was a business-changing miniseries that first carried the Prestige Format, but you have to be old to remember that.) What we care about is … how does the animation look?

Based on that trailer, they’ve captured some of the iconic panels, but they’ve smoothed out the art style and lost Miller’s unique blockiness. The result looks more generically animated than I hoped — but I’ve only seen a few clips, and I’m not sure how Miller’s distinctive style would translate in motion. I kind of wish that they’d created something that used video as uniquely as Miller’s book used print at the time, but this isn’t that kind of art project. I’m also concerned that they may have lost the meditation on age and the death of an idol in favor of a story that will be taken as a typical good guy/bad guy tale, only with more violence. But then, that’s what happened to the book, too.

Oh, and the voices are also important. Batman is played by “fanboy demi-god” (according to the press release, love it!) Peter Weller. They remind us he was RoboCop, which suits this project, but he’ll always be Buckaroo Banzai to me. One of the girls from Modern Family, Ariel Winter, is Robin (my favorite part of the grim story); Commissioner Gordon is David Selby, whom I’m not familiar with; and Michael McKean (yay!) is Dr. Bartholomew Wolper.

Robin Carrie from Dark Knight Returns Part 1

The Blu-ray contains the following special features:

  • a Sneak Peek at Part 2, due in 2013
  • a new Featurette “Her Name is Carrie … Her Role is Robin”
  • the documentary “Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story”, which originally appeared on the early animated DC release Batman: Gotham Knight. It’s an odd choice, given how Miller’s version of the character had almost nothing to do with Kane; plus, we’re finally beginning to realize how much people other than Kane had to contribute to creating the Batman who’s lasted this long.
  • The “Two-Face, Parts 1 and 2″ episodes from Batman: The Animated Series

Batman from Dark Knight Returns Part 1

That’s a disappointing, scanty list, since they could have done so much neat stuff talking about how revolutionary the story was and the affect it had on comics overall. (I’m coming to the conclusion that I don’t want to see this story animated; instead, I want a documentary about 1986 in comics and the projects that changed the industry then.) There is also a bare-bones DVD edition available; the two-disc DVD special edition isn’t available until November.

Commissioner Gordon from Dark Knight Returns Part 1

I don’t know what’s going on here, but check the product placement.

8 Responses  
Bill Angus writes:  

It’s been years since I’ve seen it, so my memory may be off, but IIRC, the Darwyn Cooke directed segment of “The Batman nobody knows” (or whatever they called it on the show – the comic story it was based on had this title) episode of the Batman show in the 90s did a very good job of retaining the blockiness of Miller’s artwork. They adapted the battle in the mud puddle with the mutants.

That episode was the one where different kids (?) described how they pictured Batman. There was a Dick Sprang-esque sequence too, and third which I’ve forgotten.

This one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoZLPwRCjcQ

Bill Angus writes:  

Actually, Darwyn may have only storyboarded that… I can’t remember for sure.

Johanna writes:  

Oh, yeah, THAT episode! I’ve never seen it, but I’ve heard it talked about since it aired, because it’s such a great way to balance those competing visions of the character.

John Steventon writes:  

I’m sure that this will bring in a different type of audience to an already awesome story, but personally, I’ll stick with the books. Yes, books… I read these one at a time, as they came out, and was blown away. Later I bought the deluxe hardcover to get some of that behind the scenes action you’re talking about.

I think since I’ve reread the story so many times that I have my own ‘voices’ for the characters. Seeing it acted out was a little weird, although I think many of the choices were pretty good. As you mentioned, though, the animation (although I only watched the one clip) was a little ‘soft’ for such an edgy story. Parts seemed a little too Saturday morning cartoony for me.

I am glad that this is true animation, though, and not one of those ‘motion comics’. I can’t stand those.

James Schee writes:  

I watched it last night, enjoyable but a little more smooth than the source material’s style. Fairly much stays point by point with comic storywise from Batmans brutality (can hear bones breaking) and even dialogue. Little racy at times with language and the Bruce & Jim drink scenes has camera set right next to big chested girl with little coverage.

I wish they could have shortened things a bit, as a lot of the stand out things I remember from story apparently won’t be seen until the next part

James Schee writes:  

Oh and the last picture. It actually pans over and there is a copy of V for Vendetta there as well. 2 of 3 books written by Alan Moore, kind of funny in a sad way.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (Blu-ray Review) » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] Special Features (Trailer and more information previously posted.)[…]

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Date and Details Announced » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] Sneak Peek at Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 […]


»  Substance: WordPress   »  Style: Ahren Ahimsa
Copyright 2009-2015 Johanna Draper Carlson