The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 (2012)
Not to be confused with the live action finale in Nolan’s trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, this is the first half of an animated adaptation of Frank Millers series/graphic novel from 1986. The story is that Bruce Wayne is now 55 years old and has retired from being Batman after the death of Jason Todd (the second Robin). However, reality dictates dire circumstances for the World’s Greatest Detective’s beloved city and thus our square jawed vigilante dons the cape and cowl to deal out some justice!
Gotham is being over-run by a new gang called “The Mutants”. They go on a rampage of crimes that culminates in the kidnapping and killing of a child. Harvey Dent has undergone reconstructive surgery to have his face restored paid for by Bruce Wayne and is supposedly reformed and released from Arkham. That does not go well. Batman gets back in the game. His return inspires a teenage girl Carrie Kelley to become Robin to help combat this menace. In a case of art imitating life, liberals are all kinds of pissed off that someone is proactive about doing something effective in regards to crime. The story follows as Batman tracks down Dent and the Mutants and ends at the return of one of Batman’s most famous foes, just to make us wait in anticipation for part two.
The animation is very well done and the adaptation stays very true to the original Miller story. I am so used to hearing Kevin Conroy doing the voice of Batman in video games/animated features since the excellent 1990′s cartoon and it was a bit jarring to hear a new voice for him. However, I was thinking the guy voicing Bruce was doing a great job and I knew I knew the voice but couldn’t quite place it. Then the end credits hit and I saw the name: PETER WELLER, aka ROBOCOP! He does a great job bringing the age and grit to this version of Batman.
This is one of the best animated adaptations I’ve seen. Unlike the Marvel ones which are made on the cheap just to get a quick buck, this one has a lot of care for the quality and source material. Top notch animation and voice work. Part two comes out at the end of this month and I am looking forward to it with much anticipation.