Tuesday, July 14, 2015

ANI-MOVIES, *Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

A lot of people thought the idea of doing an adaptation of Frank Miller's gamechanging 80s mini-series The Dark Knight Returns was nearly impossible, but the DC Universe crew decided to test the waters with Batman: Year One which met with a lot of success. This lead to them producing the "What If" story of Batman's future into two parts, which was later released as a single full-length compilation. The comic itself was only four issues long, but the content involved went on to influence several future productions, including Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. So, Bruce Timm and company treated it very seriously in creating a mature realized version of Frank Miller's story.

Set in the undetermined future, Bruce Wayne hung up his cape a decade ago after the death of the second Robin(and this was still a few years before they actually did it in the comics!). In that time, Gotham has been overrun with a gang called the Mutants, who don't have any actual X-Factor but still are a big pain in the city's backside. Harvey Dent has allegedly been cured of his Two-Face persona with plastic surgery to fix his looks, but instead plans to blow up a few buildings. After getting frustrated with all the crime going on, Bruce heads back to the Batpoles to stop Two-Face. This causes a huge public outcry, with a lot of commentary being shown on TV as it provides a large part of the story's narrative. Batman then takes on the Mutant Leader, along with his new recruit, a teenage girl named Carrie who becomes the new Robin(and the first female "Boy Wonder"). With the Mutants disassembled, a lot of the disenfranchised punks become vigilantes calling themselves the Sons of Batman. All this new Bat-buzz flying around causes the Joker to come out of a long state of catatonia, and remarkably gets booked on a late-night talk show where he unleashes his Joker toxin killing hundreds. Batman and Robin track Joker to an amusement park, and the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince have a final showdown, leaving the police to believe that Batman had killed Joker. Meanwhile, Superman has been in the pocket of the American government working as their secret weapon in order to keep them out of the lives of other superheroes. The Man of Steel stops a Russian invasion of a small Central American nation, but they counterattack with a nuclear warhead. Superman stops it, but it causes a nationwide blackout, and also reduces Supes' power since there is a nuclear cloud covering the sun. Batman pulls together the Sons of Batman into pulling together the chaos in Gotham after the blackout, which embarrasses the U.S. government, so the President sends Superman out to put down this "outlaw". Batman suits up in some heavy duty battle armor, and uses the entire Gotham power supply to take on this slightly weaker Superman, and tops it off with a Kryptonite arrow fired by a one-armed Green Arrow who also had an axe to grind with Clark. Batman then fakes his own death to make Superman and the government think that he is dead, while he along with Green Arrow, Robin, and the remnants of the Mutants and Sons of Batman to set up a new underground crimefighting crew.

This was a very faithful take on the original comic, with a few added extras, like some flashbacks of Bruce Wayne's parents, plus some bonus material with the social media coverage. The movie had an impressive cast with Robocop himself, Peter Weller as Batman, and Michael Emerson as a truly wild Joker, along with MarĂ­a Canals Barrera(formerly Hawkgirl on Justice League)as the new police commissioner. The style and animation match Frank Miller's vision of the comic perfectly, as well as an impressive musical score. If you've never read the comic before, and still want to know where a lot of the ideas for the previous live-action trilogy came from, you owe it to yourself as a true Bat-fan to check this out!

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