Will ‘The Dark Night Returns’ Be Made into an Animated Movie?


Out of all the comic book series ever created, a pair of limited series that each began publication in 1986 — “Watchmen” and “The Dark Knight Returns” — are unquestionably among the most important and influential. For a long time, they also were two of the titles that were the most intriguing in terms of being adapted for film.

Development of a “Watchmen” movie went through many iterations until the film finally hits theaters two years ago. In the end, director Zack Snyder’s film was nearly completely devoted to the book (with a few notable changes) and the result had a polarizing effect on audiences and critics.

One could argue whether the film had any effect on the comic series’ legacy. Personally, I view them as two separate entities, but it I will admit that it’s difficult not to let the movie color the book in some form when I read it. Regardless, I still believe it is the greatest comic book miniseries of all time — and one of the finest pieces of literature of this century in any form. I think the movie also has its merits, but its ranking in the movie world simply can’t compare to the way the comic book series rates among literature.

“The Dark Knight Returns” also has gone through several variations of development, rumor and just plain old wishful thinking regarding a live-action adaptation. Many top directors have mused — whether publicly or privately — about the possibility of making a movie out of Frank Miller’s classic tale of a Batman in his latter years.

In many ways, making “The Dark Knight Returns” into a movie would involve some advantages that Snyder did not have with “Watchmen.” Chief among these is that there are far fewer characters to deal with in the Batman series and there are only four issues of “The Dark Knight Returns” vs. 12 issues for “Watchmen.”

However, one major obstacle for making a movie out of “The Dark Knight Returns” is that it would involve the loss of the art by Miller and Klaus Janson. That bold artwork is as much a part of “The Dark Knight Returns” story as is any character.

One way to maintain the art, however, is to make an animated film out of the series. The video below is from an a homage to “The Dark Knight Returns” done during the run of “Batman: The Animated Series.” It shows what a potential animated version of “The Dark Knight Returns” could look like.

In the recent DC animated direct-to-DVD releases, there has been an increased attempt to try to honor the work of the artist who originally did the comic book series on which the movie is made (with artists such as Michael Turner, Frank Quitely or Ed McGuinness getting their due). After seeing those efforts, I strongly feel the DC animation team could do justice to the work of Miller and Janson.

Along these lines, the website Bleeding Cool has “heard from multiple sources … that work is underway on a movie adaptation of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson‘s classic The Dark Knight Returns.”

In the story, Brendon Connelly of Bleeding Cool writes:

    As you might have guessed, however, this is to be an animated adaptation, much like the recent All Star Superman or in-the-works Year One.
    Fittingly, Year One will come along first, but DKR is already in the early stages of development. According to our sources, several veterans of Batman toons past will be on the crew list, though we’re still trying to confirm who is writing and directing the film.

I have to admit, I think I would like to see them give it a shot. The one drawback with doing it as an animated feature is the time issue. Animated films usually run 75 minutes to 90 minutes and it seems like you would want a longer running time to do this story justice. Hopefully, they will do that.

So, what do you think? Do you want to see “The Dark Knight Returns” made into an animated film or would you rather wait until a live-action version could be made? Or do you wish they would leave well-enough alone and never make a movie out of the story? Let us know in the comments section at right.

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2 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. 1

    I think this story could be well served by making it an animated film, but, of course, this particular project could easily be butchered. If they make it, I’ll watch it. But I wouldn’t say I’m dying to see it.

  2. Cindy B #

    Unfortunately, there are people who would never in a million years read a comic book, so sometimes the only way to get them to check out a story is to film it.