Back to Batman – again
The success of the “Dark Knight Rises,” despite the horror of its opening weekend, is a testament to not only director Christopher Nolan’s gift for filmmaking, but also the character of Batman.
In fact, Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy may not have been possible without the release of Frank Miller’s seminal, “The Dark Knight Returns” comic (which was later collected in graphic novel format). It presented a darker Batman more serious take on the character, and was the inspiration for Tim Burton’s 1989 film starring Michael Keaton.
So, if you still haven’t gotten enough of the caped crusader, Warner Home Video has a new film, “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1,” due to hit stores on Sept. 25. This animated feature film is from the same folks who brought us “Batman: The Animated Series,” and the favorably reviewed direct-to-video films featuring DC Comics characters, spearheaded by animation wizard Bruce Timm.
Both “The Dark Knight Returns” and Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” paved the way for grittier depictions of superheroes in comics and on the big screen.
Maybe you can’t prove it statistically, but I’m willing to bet there are more Batman fans out there than his sometimes partner in crime (uh, justice, rather), Superman. Batman’s simply cooler and more relatable because of the lack of super powers.
Here’s the official description from Warner Bros. films:
Fanboy demi-god Peter Weller (“RoboCop”) leads a stellar voice cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Joining Weller behind the microphone is David Selby (“The Social Network,” “Dark Shadows”) as Commissioner Gordon, Ariel Winter (“Modern Family”) as Carrie/Robin, three-time DCU veteran Wade Williams (“Prison Break”) as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, and Michael McKean (“This is Spinal Tap”) as Dr. Bartholomew Wolper.
In the bleak and ominous future of “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1,” it’s been a decade since Bruce Wayne hung up his cape, following most of the other superheroes who had been forced into retirement. Facing the downside of middle age, a restless Bruce Wayne pacifies his frustration with racecars and liquor – but the Bat still beckons as he watches his city fall prey to gangs of barbaric criminals known as The Mutants.
The return of Harvey Dent as Two-Face finally prompts Wayne to once again don the Dark Knight’s cowl, and his dramatic capture of the villain returns him to crime-fighting – simultaneously making him the target of law enforcement and the new hope for a desolate Gotham City. Particularly inspired is a teenage girl named Carrie, who adopts the persona of Robin and ultimately saves Batman from a brutal attack by the Mutant leader. Armed with a new sidekick, and re-energized with a definitive purpose, the Dark Knight returns to protect Gotham from foes new … and old.
It’s almost a sure bet given the consistency of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line, that “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1” will deliver.