Late last night I was finally able to watch part 2 of the animated The Dark Knight Returns movie on Blu-ray, which is based on Frank Miller’s iconic graphic novel of the same name. Let me tell you something Batman and DC fans; this animated film is something that can’t be missed, and if you haven’t watched both parts already I highly suggest getting your ass in gear – STAT!
I’m embarrassed to admit that I never made it through the graphic novel, but after watching the animated version I’ve renewed my interest in doing so. The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 and 2 could easily be the greatest animated comic book movie of all-time, and I’m here to tell you why. Please continue on to read up on my top 5 reasons to watch this excellent piece of Batman lore.
5. Iconic DC Universe Story
Like I mentioned earlier these animated films are based on what many comic book fans consider to be the greatest graphic novel of all-time; with industry luminaries such as Kevin Smith calling it, “‘The Catcher in the Rye’ of comic books.” Not that I’ve ever read that book or will, but that statement speaks volumes on how impactful this particular Batman tale is.
It’s hands down the darkest toned comic I’ve ever read (or watched), and I was surprised that the animated version didn’t earn a R-rating; especially for Part 2. Each of the main characters are more violent than I’ve ever seen them in any medium, and a few scenes with the Joker will literally shock you to your core.
And you thought Ledger’s Joker was a menace
The fact that most of the characters are geriatrics also makes it a unique DC tale, which puts a different perspective on some of the most beloved heroes and villains from DC’s pages. Trust me, this is one comic book story that will resonate with you for a long time, and it’ll make you see the characters of Batman, Superman, the Joker, and even Catwoman in a new light that you never thought could exist.
4. Animation and Cinematography
Frank Miller’s graphic novel of The Dark Knight Returns could be hung in the hoitiest of art museums do to its amazing sketches, and the animated version’s imagery is just as top notch. I could really tell that the film’s caretakers made a serious effort to faithfully capture the amazing set pieces that Miller first introduced way back in ’86 for the big screen. Each character is rendered wonderfully and they look glorious in HD. In fact, I could watch these two movies with the sound turned off and still thoroughly enjoy them.
3. Epic Batman versus Superman Battle
Fanboy battles in the comic book space always seem to end up pitting Superman against another superhero, and inevitably the two sides will debate who they think would win in a mano y mano bout of fisticuffs. I usually tend to side with the Man of Steel; mainly because he’s fucking invincible to everything but his home planet’s minerals, but there are fans on the other side of the coin who will argue the contrary.
The Dark Knight Returns offers what could be the best, and most realistic (if you can use that term in the land of comic books) duel between Superman and another superhero, which in this case happens to be Batman. What? You thought they were BFFs? That’s definitely not the case in this film, and their battle royal will make any DC fanboy drool with excitement. For me personally this scene in both parts of the film stood out as my favorite. It’s fantastic and reason enough alone to grab these movies.
One word: Epic
2. Batman at His Darkest
Batman has never really been the type of superhero that makes you feel all gushy inside, but he’s at his darkest in TDKR. The elderly crime fighter doesn’t hold back one bit in his quest to clean up the streets of Gotham after he has been away for 10 years, and you’ll see him do things that you never thought he’d do. Not only does he have a tank for a Batmobile, which he uses to lay waste to a good chunk of the city, but for the first time in my experiences with him he loses his cool in the heat of battle.
I won’t spoil this moment for you, but it’s ten times darker than anything you saw in Nolan’s gritty trilogy. He doesn’t start using guns, but he takes his brand of punishment to a new level, and no one is safe; not even the Gotham PD. There’s also the fact that he takes more punishment in these two films than in any other tale I’ve read, or watched about him. This ain’t your friendly Christian Bale Batman folks!
Elderly Batman doesn’t mess around
1. Superman at His Darkest
You may be asking yourself how Superman could be my top reason to watch The Dark Knight Returns, but the way Miller portrays him made me question just who Superman really is. First off, he’s the equivalent of Dr. Manhattan from The Watchmen; in that he’s basically the United States ultimate weapon against Communism. So he’s basically the President’s bitch, and some of the tasks he sends the Man of Steel on just don’t seem like the types of activities he would involve himself in.
For starters, he essentially wipes out an entire force of invading Russians. I’m not talking about picking up their aircraft carriers and dropping them safely in the desert either. Supes literally kills (I didn’t see any survivors) an entire armada with a mix of eye lasers and his other Kryptonian powers. After that he’s more or less sent to kill Batman, and as I prefaced earlier it’s one helluva brawl that should be viewed by all DC fans.
It was just plain shocking to me to see him portrayed this way, but once again that’s why TDKR is so special. It turns what you thought you knew about these DC heroes upside down; and paints them in a whole new light. Before watching these two movies Superman in my eyes was a boy scout. He could do no wrong, and he would never kill a human, but that’s definitely not the case according to Miller. Hence the reason why I consider his dark portrayal to be the top reason to watch The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 and 2 as fast as humanly possible.
Superman ain’t such a nice guy after all
Just Do It.
If you don’t own them already you can pick up Part 1 and Part 2 today! Trust me, it’ll be two and a half of the best hours you’ve ever invested into the comic book universe, and that’s a fact! Check out a preview for Part 2 after the break. You’ve been needing to add two new films to your home movie collection…
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