Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
An animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s seminal graphic novel that sees a middle-aged Batman (voiced by Peter Weller) emerge from a ten-year retirement to reclaim Gotham.
For fans of the source material, there’s much to enjoy. The script doesn’t stray. It retains the plot and uses the same storytelling devices. It lifts swaths of dialogue verbatim—including the book’s slang. The animation embraces Miller’s iconic visual style. Ariel Winter nails the voice of Carrie Kelly.
But those same fans may bemoan the loss of Batman’s inner monologue and the great lines it contained, and they may notice the minor edits that tone down some of the spoken dialogue. It also drops Miller’s magic trick of opening his series with a Neal Adams-styled Batman who subtly morphs into Miller’s hulking beast as the series unwinds.
I could get past that. But not the voices. Weller acquits himself well as Batman, but my mind expects Kevin Conroy. Ditto Mark Hamill as Joker and Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon. Hearing these new voices, good as they may be, feels like watching a dubbed version.
Restoring the original voice cast and some of Batman’s inner monologue might have rendered this the best Batman movie ever made. As is, it’s a good adaptation.