Animated ‘Dark Knight Returns’? I hope not.

According to Superhero Hype, the next DC animated film could be Frank Miller’s influential graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns. (Not to be confused with the upcoming live-action film, Dark Knight Rises. I know, creative titles, right?)

Usually I’m one to praise DC at every turn, but right now, I’m disappointed.

That’s partly because I didn’t like the graphic novel, in which an older Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement in an apocalyptic future. Yes, it was a societal commentary that influenced later writers; that I cannot discount. However, when the book is read purely for entertainment value, it’s dark, dreary and depressing, and the art is like a vortex sucking you into black nothingness. I do like how Carrie becomes Robin, but her relationship with Batman turns creepy real fast. Oh, and I almost forgot: Bruce leaves Alfred to die of a heart attack in the snow, and the Joker snaps his own neck. Funsies!

(A lot of fans will take issue with the above paragraph. DKR is one of those books that you hate or you love, and nothing the other party says will convince you otherwise.)

But one can’t argue that we’ve seen a lot of Batman in DC’s animated original movies. He’s starred in seven of twelve if you include the Justice League films, and the films coming out this year, including Batman: Year One this fall. (Throw in Superman and the duo appears in all of them, save three.) Now my love for Bats goes without saying, and rare is the fantastic comic book without him. But should DC animated films highlight only the most popular superheroes to the point of overexposure, or can we start seeing some variety and shine the spotlight on someone else? The Flash is a consistently overlooked A-lister without a feature film or a show, and I would much prefer a wisecracking Wally West than another depressing Batman film–Under the Red Hood was enough for me, thanks.

Howzabout a Batgirl: Year One, Birds of Prey or Zatanna movie? Gasp! The only superheroine to have her own animated film is Wonder Woman, and that’s just ridiculous, and rather sexist too if you ask me. *gets off her soapbox*

In the end, there are two truths: DC will cater to the majority of its fans, and DC will do its best to make a profit. It isn’t a coincidence that this new Batman film will likely coincide with the debut of Dark Knight Rises, just like the new GL animated film. For those fans who love Dark Knight Returns–there are far more in your camp than in mine, and I have no doubt that a faithful, high-quality adaptation will be made for you. But I am less than thrilled.

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2 thoughts on “Animated ‘Dark Knight Returns’? I hope not.

  1. Hmmm, I saw the title of your post and I did a double take. I do really love DKR as a book, it is probably the thing that brought me into liking comics as something more than Saturday morning cartoons. I think I agree with your assessment: bad choice for a film or even “motion comic” adaptation. It is awfully dark, and if you go with this one you are stuck with miller’s sequel DKSA as the only other exploration of this universe, which was not so good. And about pandering to the popular heroes? That’ll always happen. The avengers wouldn’t have a film without ppl liking Downey jr as ironman, you aren’t going to see the flash getting any spotlight until they find a similarly well ‘suited’ actor.

    • Hi Morgan! Thanks for understanding my opinion about DKR :)

      You make a good point about the ‘pandering.’ I guess I considered the animated films to be more direct-to-fans, especially because most of them are adaptations of the comic books. Hopefully Flash’ll get his live-action film soon but I can’t see most of the B-listers getting a similar spotlight, at least for a while, especially after Green Hornet tanked.

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