Is Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns Becoming an Animated Movie?

24 Comments

D.C. has been doing some pretty damn good work when it comes to their original direct-to-DVD animated movies, with recent additions including “All-Star Superman” and “Batman/Superman: Apocalypse”. We already know that D.C. and Warner Bros. have plans for a “Batman: Year One” animated movie, based on, of course, the first year of the Caped Crusader’s, well, crusade against crime. Now rumor has D.C. also pondering another Batman story, this one based on Frank Miller’s futuristic “What if” tale “The Dark Knight Returns”. (Let’s not talk too much about its sequel, “The Dark Knight Strikes Again”, which was just, well, let’s not talk about it.)

If you’ve never read Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”, you are missing out on possibly one of the best comic book stories of all time. It was the first comic book that convinced me comics were no longer for kids — it was breathtakingly complex, awesome, and featured an aging Bruce Wayne, long since retired as Batman, returning to the cape and cowl just in time to save Gotham City from crumbling under the weight of its own slime. It also features the best Batman vs. Superman fight of all time, and one that continues to reverberate throughout the D.C. universe.

Obviously making a live-action movie about an aging, retired Batman is probably NOT gonna happen anytime soon (if ever), but as an animated movie? According to the boys at Bleeding Cool, that’s exactly the plan. Citing “multiple sources”, the site also adds that “several veterans of Batman toons past will be on the crew list”, including as writers and director (or directors, which is pretty common in animated movies).

Nothing against Superman, but the notion that I might be able to see this comic book panel turned into an animated movie feels me with all kinds of glee:

Author: Nix

Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.
  • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

    About damned time!!!! They’ve adapted this in part or paid homage in both “Batman:TAS,” and “The Batman” and again most recently in “Brave and the Bold.” I’ve alway said they should do this, and though he’s kinda crazy right now, let Miller adapt his own work for the screen like Judd Winnick did for “Under the Red Hood.” I really hope this comes tor fruition, I even trie my own take at adapting it.

    • Juggernaut

      This would be awsome! Dream voice casting would have Clint Eastwood as Bruce. We had a breif discussion on who should be cast if the Batman series is relaunched after Nolan’s films. I suggested picking up from that series with the premise of TDKR as an outline. I was shooting from the hip then. I took some time and now I have the perfect cast for a live action TDKR movie
      Bruce Wayne / Batman – Richard Burgi (Hostel II, Friday The 13th remake)
      Alfred Pennyworth – Peter O’Toole (Troy, The Tudors)
      Jim Gordon – Sam Elliot (Ghostrider, The Hulk)
      Carrie Kelly / Robin – Dakota Fanning (The Runaways, Twilight)
      Ellen Yindel – Cate Blanchett (Hanna, Robin Hood)
      Dr. Bartholomew Wolper – Geoffrey Rush (Pirates OfThe Carribean, House On Haunted Hill
      The Mutant Leader – Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious, The Chronicles Of Riddick)
      President – Fred Willard (Salem’s Lot, Anchorman)
      The Joker – Bruce Campbell (Burn Notice, Evil Dead)
      Harvey Dent / Two-Face – Bruce Willis (Red, Die Hard)
      Oliver Queen / Green Arrow – Cary Elwes (Saw, The Princess Bride)
      Clark Kent / Superman – Patrick Warburton (Rules Of Engagement, The Tick)

      That would be a sick cast!!!

      • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

        It’d definitely be interesting. Love you’re Batman choice, but as much as I love Patrick Warburton, I’d cast John Hamm as Superman for this. I love me some Bruce Campbell but I jut don’t see him as the Joker, I’d actually cast Willem DaFoe. He looks the part, and s much creepier. The res of your cast is spot on. If we can’t get a TDKR film then Batman Beyond is the way to go.

        • Juggernaut

          I could definately see Hamm in the Superman role! However, Hamm is only 40, Warburton is 46, still a few years shy of his age in TDKR. Batman is 55 so I figure everyone else is in and or around that age as well. Although it is alluded to that Superman ages better than Batman. I could also see Willem Dafoe as Joker. My first choice was Christopher Walken or Tim Curry. In the comic Joker looked identical to Rocky Horror era Curry. However, after researching Curry, he is 64 and Walken is 68! I was back and forth about either Campbell or Warburton as Superman and then I thought about some of Campbell’s roles and thought that he’d be a pretty good fit as Joker. I was also up in the air about who should play Green Arrow. I’ve wanted to see Elwes as Oliver Queen since his roles in The Princess Bride and Robin Hood: Men In Tights. Now he’s 48 and right in that age frame. It was either him, Nick Nolte 70 (who would have been perfect except for his age), Billy Connoly 68 (same as Nolte too old), Kurt Russell (Who I also thought of for Superman for the hair and eyes alone). The rest of the cast was pretty easy choices. It’s all just a fantasy. These guys will all be way past the right age by the time this thing sees a live action treatment. Hopefully we get an animated film with a good voice cast.

          • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

            But with Superman age isn’t truly a factor as, other than afew wrinkles he didn’t look that old. OMG MAN!!! STAY OUT OF MY HEAD!!! I had Curry as Joker too, but was like “Nah, he’ll think I’m crazy!” And Walken trust me I thought of him too. LOL. And WHOA! Russell would rock as SUpes! LOL.

          • Juggernaut

            There are definately a lot of actors in their fifties and beyond who could pull off a high action superhero flick! It would be ‘Red’ with powers! I was going to try to write a treatment for this next. It is a difficult adaptation top pull off. It was such a politically charged book and had so many absurd concepts that any way you change it would either be straying too far from the source material or you end up with a cartoonish Sin City kind of vibe. In my opinion that is really the way to go. If of course they ever decide to make it! Lol.

          • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

            Yeah I get you. See that was the thing I had an issue with was the political aspect of it, and all the smaller aspects. I switched a few things here, and had to decide what was truly relevant to the story and characters.

            Sent on the go.

      • Lexavi80

        @Juggernaut: Dude, I just wrote I wouldn’t like this book to be animated, but you killed me with Clint Eastwood as Bruce. lol

        Cheers for that one.

        • Juggernaut

          It would be only fitting for Eastwood to voice the aged Bruce since the entire story was conceived after seeing a ‘Dirty Harry’ movie.

  • Lexavi80

    I hope this not become an animated film. I don’t know… there’s some things that shouldn’t be touched. I think the panels in the comic give you a certain kind of emotion that animation can’t give. Plus, normally the voices are so robotic and fail to bring that sense of emotion the characters have in the book.

    If something must be done I think a live action movie is in order. Get a great cast and do it the right way.

    Year One might work because is lighter, but TDKR is too complex.

    • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

      Agreed! WHen I was trying to do my version of an adaptation, it was really hard trying to fit it into the time frame, and making changes fgured would possibly get made. That said I can’t agree on the voices. I love the idea of Clint Eastwood, but even if we can’t do that Michael ironside voiced Older Bats in the “Batman:TAS” homage to TDKR perfectly, and let’s not forget Kevin “Batman” Conroy voiced an older Bruce for 3 seasons of “Batman Beyond.” Voice work has been one of the shining points in ALL DC/WB animation, whether it be voice actors or Hollywood actors.

  • Brittdasheet

    Umm, Nix.. not to nit-pick but it’s “All-Star Superman”.

    And as for the adaptation, so long as they don’t let Miller direct or make DK2, I’ll be good.

    • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

      LOL. But I still think he’d be the best to adapt the work. It’s his baby after all, and he’d know what best to trim and leave. Though the late, great Dwayne McDuffie would ‘ve rocked it too.

      • Brittdasheet

        True, it is his baby but he created the damn thing over 25 years ago. I just don’t think that he would bring anything to the table if he made it as an animated form. I just wish that he would take the Alan Moore’s “hands off” approach when it comes to other media forms of his work. Miller is too close to the material and couldn’t maintain any type of objectivity.

        • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

          Hey now “Sin City” was amazing, and “300″ was great. He wan’t even involved with that one. I’m not saying I want him to rewrite the thing, just trim the fat. I do agree that he is a mess, and should be supervised to a point. I’d say let Michael jelenic (DC’s other really good animated writer) flesh out an outline worked on by Miller adapted from the original work.

    • Juggernaut

      In my opinion Miller as a creative producer is the only way to make this idea come to fruition. Having Robert Rodriguez behind the camera again would be cool. They make a good team. Sin City wouldn’t have been as good as it was had the two of them not been involved.

      • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

        For a live action version yes most defnitely. And as crazy as some of the things that happen in TDKR I think Rodriguez would actually work, with Nolan overseeing just in case.

        • Juggernaut

          Gotta have the “Godfather” in there! Lol!

  • Lexavi80

    I know I’ll get boo because of this but… I actually liked DK2.

    Until this day I believe the story was a fun one. I enjoy the reading a whole lot, however the art and coloring was T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E, and in my perspective, I think that’s what made the book so awful. Well, that and to see Dick Grayson go haywire.

    So I don’t know. If DC decided to relaunch DK2 but with (let’s say) Jim Lee’s art, the book would be sweet.

    Like I said, I think DK2 is a very fun story, however you should give better attention to the art and coloring. Is a GRAPHIC novel after all.

    • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

      Meh. The story just didnt do it for me. It just seemed a bit nuts. And Jim Lee and Miller worked together for the weird and wrong “All Star Batman.” That was again Miller just bugging out. He has something against Dick grayson, and his batman in that was jut…borderline schitzo.

    • Juggernaut

      I didn’t mind it all that much. I thought that the inclusion of so many of the DC cast was unecissary. It is supposed to be a Batman story. I understand that they sometimes have cameos by other DC characters, but it was a bit much. It also didn’t feel like the next logical step in the story to me. I was expecting more of a continuation than just being in the same world as TDKR. Other than that I liked it. As for the art and coloring, that’s just Miller! If you want a clean crisp art style you go to Jim Lee. Miller’s art mirrors his narrative. It is chaotic, frenzied and crazy.

    • Brittdasheet

      Miller is just a mess. I mean, does anyoen remember “Holy Terror, Batman!”

  • Lexavi80

    Ecxept for the first issues I actually enjoyed All Star Batman. It was a fun take. I never had problems with the “Goddamn Batman”.

    What I did hate is that there’s no closure yet. It all stayed in limbo.

    • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

      Not happening I don’t think. The All Star line tanked except for Superman, and Miller’s erratic schedule didn’t help. I like where they started to go, but in the end it just started to seem like Miller was writing him insane for the hell of it, not as a part of his obsession.