The next property DC and Warner Bros. are adapting into an animated feature is The Dark Knight Returns, and the pressure is on not to fuck this one up. Among most Batman and comic book fans this book by Frank Miller is a grandaddy of Batman stories. Dark Knight Returns focuses on an aging Batman who’s been out of the cowl for some time and what happens to Gotham in his absence that drives him back into the mask. It managed to both reinvent and define the character. Basically, folks are gonna be pissed if this animated film doesn’t live up to the source material.
This sneak peek doesn’t show much footage from the movies – oh did I mention The Dark Knight Returns will be split into two films? – but it does go into great detail on how they approached adapting such a beloved work as well as a chance to hear some of the voice work. It’s also subtitled in Spanish so hey, maybe you can learn a few phrases here and there.
The Dark Knight Returns is set in a near future where Batman is retired and Gotham City has slid into a dystopian state ruled by a gang of hooligans called The Mutants. The 55-year old Bruce Wayne is forced to don the cape once more, this time partnering with a female Robin to not only stop the Joker but keep the peace when the city falls into chaos after being hit by an electromagnetic pulse.
Peter Weller (Robocop) will be the voice of Batman/Bruce Wayne, Ariel Winter (Modern Family) as Robin. David Selby (original Dark Shadows soap opera), Wade Williams (Prison Break) as Harvey Dent/Two-Face; and Michael McKean as Dr. Wolper, the psychiatrist who releases the Joker from the insane asylum. The movie is being directed by Jay Oliva, who was the storyboard artist for Zack Snyder’s upcoming Superman movie Man of Steel, from a script by Bob Goodman.
The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 releases this fall, do you plan to check it out?
Peter Weller clearly must have an unquenchable thirst for justice. Known to most as Detroit’s own Robocop, Weller has been cast as the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman in DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation‘s upcoming adaptation of Frank Miller‘s The Dark Knight Returns. Oooh. Pressure’s on not to screw this one up.
Joining Weller as the Robin, Carrie Kelly, will be Modern Family’s middle child, Ariel Winter. Also in the cast will be, “David Selby, the veteran actor who starred in the original Dark Shadows soap opera as well as the classic 1980s soap Falcon Crest; Wade Williams (Prison Break) as Harvey Dent/Two-Face; and Michael McKean as Dr. Wolper, the psychiatrist who releases the Joker from the insane.”
For those unaware, The Dark Knight Returns is considered to be one of the defining Batman comics. Miller took away the campy Batman and replaced him with the gritty and gruff Batman we’re more familiar with today. The Dark Knight Returns along with Miller’s other story, Batman: Year One and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen marked the change in comics to darker tones and themes. Last year saw the release of DC and Warner Bros.’ animated adaptation of Year One on which they did a bang up job. (Psst. I reviewed it here.) Let’s hope they bring the same sense of appreciation to this project.
The Dark Knight Returns will be directed by Jay Oliva, who storyboarded Zack Snyder’s movie Man of Steel and and also directed sequences of Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. (Guess what? Reviewed that too.) Bob Goodman (Warehouse 13) has written the script. Bruce Timm is also returning and had this to say about the casting of Weller and the importance of getting Dark Knight Returns right,
Dark Knight Returns is the granddaddy of beloved comics properties that we’ve ever attempted (to adapt),” said Bruce Timm, the veteran animation guru who has exec produced all of DC’s animated movies. “There is definitely the imperative to get it right.”
On the voice front, Timm described Weller a having “the proper weight to his voice. He definitely brings all of the world-weariness of the character and inner core of optimist covered in a cynical shell.”
Winter also spoke about how she’s approaching Robin,
Winter says she prepared for the role by seeing other Batman movies and asking, “How can I maker her different from the other Robins, other than just being female? She’s really tough and she needs to have an edge in her voice so I tried a lower register for her.”
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m excited for this movie! Oh, I mean two movies. They’ll be splitting the four-book mini-series into two films, The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 and Part 2, with Part 1 releasing this fall and Part sometime in 2013. I think Weller is a genius choice for old, crochety Bats and I like the thought Winter has put into her approach to Robin. I can’t wait to see a trailer! In the meantime, here’s the first images of the project,
What do you guys think? Does this version of The Dark Knight Returns sound totally rad or are you afraid they’ll only screw up this classic? Y’know, I just noticed they haven’t named who’s voicing the Joker. Will it be Selby who isn’t listed with a role or someone else?