Brief Thoughts: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Part 1

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Part 1:  4 out of 5

Rookie Cop: You've crippled that man!
Batman : He's young. He'll walk again. 

 Set in a future version of Gotham City, The Dark Knight Returns is a title that describes exactly what this story is about.  Now 55-years old, Bruce Wayne (voided by Peter Weller) has retired from donning the cape and cowl, following the death of Jason Todd (the second Robin).  The city has once again become the victim of crime, mainly from a group known as The Mutants.  Wayne sits by, hoping his role as a billionaire philanthropist can do enough to keep him going, but he is drawn back into the persona he created for himself, as he once again goes out into the night to fight crime.  During this time, we also hear from Alfred, of course, who is not happy that Wayne is breaking his promise to stop this crusade; Commissioner Gordon, who is now aware of Wayne's true identity and has always supported Batman regardless; Harvey Dent, who has been given a second chance, thanks to plastic surgery, but is reverting back to his old ways; and a young girl named Carrie Kelly, who has decided that taking up the mantle as the new Robin is a good idea.  Despite his age, Batman continues to be the hero people deserve, albeit, one who is having a little more difficulty nowadays.

Ask any assortment of fans of the Batman comic books and they will name Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns as one of if not THE best Batman story ever told.  I am of the mind that it just might be the best (though different era's of the bat make it difficult to really space out honestly), so it of course becomes a challenge of whether or not I can accept an animated version of this story.  Thankfully, this falls into the category of DC Universe Animated Original Movies that do not just feel like a motion comic with nothing else to add to the medium it is based upon.  While Year One was a nice thing to see in motion, not a lot was added to really necessitate its existence.  The Dark Knight Returns is a nice supplement to the book, making various changes to the story, while providing an entertaining experience overall that plays nicely as a tribute to the book it is based upon.  Dividing it into two films was also a nice touch, as it allows things to breathe and lets the story escalate, as Part 2 is going to go places that are much wilder than what is presented in Part 1.  The animation is solid here, maybe not my favorite look of The Bat, but fitting with the style originally depicted by Miller and inker Klaus Janson.  The voice work is strong too, with Weller making for a solid older Wayne/Batman.  And of course, getting to see lots of signature moments from the comic and hear various bit dialogue come to life provides plenty of geeky joy.  As a Batman and comic fan, I really enjoyed it.  For everyone else - those who enjoy DC Animated Comic movies should check this one out.
Batman: You don't get it, boy... this isn't a mudhole... it's an operating table. And I'm the surgeon.  

Aaron is a writer/reviewer for  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at


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