More than 25 years after Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s four-part prestige format comic book series/graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns changed the landscape for comic books thereafter, DC Animation produced a quality animated adaptation. Released in two parts, we reviewed The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 here last year. Part 1 was a faithful adaptation of roughly the first half of the original graphic novel. It proved first and foremost that Christopher Nolan really pulled his key story elements in his Dark Knight trilogy of films from Frank Miller’s work. Part 1 really keyed in on Nolan’s Bane character. Both Part 1 and the Dark Knight trilogy failed to provide an exciting narrative, however, when compared to The Dark Knight Returns Part 2, now on video.
Part 2 is every bit as faithful to the original as Part 1. Commissioner Gordon has already stepped down and was replaced by a new commissioner whose first act is issuing a warrant for Batman. The vacuous Doctor Wolper brings his patient The Joker to appear on Miller’s take on The David Letterman Show, only for The Joker to release a gas bombing that kills the entire audience as well as the host, leaving The Joker’s trademark grin on all their faces. From the first sentences of Part 2, you know this is not a kid’s Batman film. The Joker escapes and proceeds to bloodily murder everyone in his path until he confronts Batman in the bowels of Gotham City. Here the classic confrontation between the long-time foes plays out exactly as it should.