Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (Video 2012) Poster


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  • The budgets for the DC Universe Animated Original Movies only allow for films of about 70 to 75 minutes in length. The graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns is long enough that it couldn't be adapted as a single animated film without seriously compromising the original story. Therefore, the film has been split into two parts to allow for a more faithful adaptation. Edit

  • Fairly faithful. This movie is not as faithful the animated version of Frank Miller's Batman: Year One where the entire movie was a page for page recreation, but it is perhaps the second most faithful adaptation of a graphic novel to movie in the DC Animated series. Some scenes are changed around, some scenes are removed, some characters are visually altered but the story in the movie remains the same as the story in the graphic novel, and there are no sweeping changes to the original story. The biggest omission is that Batman does not have narration in the movie like he does in the graphic novel. In the graphic novel Frank Miller wrote a constant line of narration from the point of view of Batman's thoughts and his war journal. This narration did more than just explain the actions that the reader was seeing and actually revealed some important story information that was not otherwise seen or discussed. The filmmakers decided to leave out this narration and let the visual aspect of the story stand on its own. Edit

  • In the 1980s, the time when Frank Miller wrote The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel, Dick Grayson had already left Batman's side to become the hero Nightwing. He was replaced by an orphan and street hooligan named Jason Todd, whom readers greatly disliked. Eventually DC Comics created a publicity stunt to put Jason Todd's fate in the reader's hands. In a comic book story line called A Death in the Family, the Joker had beaten Jason Todd to near death. DC Comics then created a 1-900 phone number for readers to vote whether Todd lived or died. The votes were for his death and Jason was killed in the next issue. While no actual reference is given to how Jason died in The Dark Knight Returns, it is not unreasonable to assume that the events depicted in A Death in the Family could also have happened in the alternate timeline that The Dark Knight Returns takes place in. An interesting note is that The Dark Knight Returns was published 2 years before the storyline in which Jason Todd was murdered. Eventually a third Robin named Tim Drake would join Batman on his war on crime, but The Dark Knight Returns was written before that character was created and does not take this into account. For another DC animated film that deals with Jason Todd as Robin, Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) may be of interest. Edit

  • It is not explained where Dick Grayson is during the events of this story. As stated, he was not the Robin that was killed and brought Bruce Wayne to decide on retiring as Batman. In the original graphic novel when Batman is first defeated by the Mutant leader, Batman begins to monologue to himself as if he were speaking to Dick Grayson but does not reveal any information about his fate in this story. However, in Frank Miller's graphic novel sequel to this story Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again it is revealed that Dick Grayson went crazy from years of rejection from Batman and became the second Joker. Edit

  • It is set in an alternate version of the 1980s, in a similar manner as the film adaptation of Watchmen (2009). When the story was originally written this was a contemporary time setting and only became an alternate history setting after it took many years to produce as a movie. Edit

  • For more of Frank Miller's take on Batman you may enjoy Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, Batman: Year One and its animated adaptation. For more of superheros in a dystopian future you may enjoy Paul Pope's Batman: Year 100 and Kaare Andrews' Spider-Man: Reign. Edit



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