In honor of the upcoming release of the animated Batman: The Killing Joke. I dove into my DVD vault for another great Batman comic turned animated movie. I didn’t have to look far, my heart raced as my fingers grabbed DVDs of one of the greatest and most famous graphic novels to ever come out in the late 80s. Written by one of the most well known authors of our time.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was written by Frank Miller. You might know him from other comics turned movies like Sin City and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. This was the comic that put Miller into the spotlight in the comic world. It was edgy, it was dirty and it was dark just as a Batman comic should be.
Set in the 80s Bruce Wayne is 55 years old and has been long retired from being Batman. Gotham still remains crime ridden and it now features mutants running amok terrorizing the innocent hard working citizens. After suffering a breakdown Bruce takes on the mantel of Batman once more. He faces off against Harvey Dent who was believed to be cured of his Two-Face persona. Afterwards Bruce continues to battle crime in Gotham, now with a female robin at his side. However his actions cause political tensions in the White House forcing a confrontation between the Old Dark Knight and the Man of Steel.
I was a little disheartened at the fact that Kevin Conroy would not be voicing Batman/Bruce Wayne in this. For me growing up watching Batman the Animated Series he is and will always be Batman to me. But then again what doesn’t scream 80s nostalgia than to have Buckaroo Banzai himself, Peter Weller voice the old man Batman? It was an excellent casting choice. Weller’s melodic voice and tone was an excellent fit to play an older more mentally and emotionally unstable vigilante. Weller really sells the part with his amazing voice acting. If you haven’t seen him in the Netflix series Longmire you are missing some amazing acting chops. Michael Emerson didn’t really sell it to me as the Joker, I much rather prefer the darker sadistic tone of Mark Hamill, who true to his word will be voicing the Joker in the animated The Killing Joke. It just felt like something was missing in with The Clown Prince of Crime when he came front and center. Mark Valley did well voicing Superman for this movie and the animators did an amazing job for all the combat scenes making them completely brutal as they were meant to be.
If you’re looking for a true dark and emotional tale about Batman then look no further than this two part story. It is DC’s version of Unforgiven and Gran Torino rolled into one package.