Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 Review

Around the time that the first Tim Burton Batman movie was released, I had a case of full-on Batmania. I had enough Batman t-shirts to last over a week. I had multiple Batman buttons pinned to my jackets. I even had a giant Batman movie poster from the NYC subway hanging in my bedroom.

It was around this time that I was given a copy of The Dark Knight Returns. It immediately became one of my favorite comics. It’s one of those comics that I read almost every year.

When it was announced that Dark Knight Returns would be adapted into an animated movie, I couldn’t help but feel hesitant about it. I’m not a fan of the Death of Superman animated film and I worried that they would use the wrong art style or water down the story on DKR. The box art scared me; this wasn’t the Batman from The Dark Knight Returns on the box art.

I shouldn’t have worried. The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 is a very faithful adaption of the first half of The Dark Knight Returns. The art style is very reminiscent of Frank Miller’s art from the comic, but updated to not look dated, less rough, and more streamlined. It’s a very subtle shift in style and it works well. The story has barely been changed. It’s not a shot-for-shot, line-for-line remake of the comic, but while watching it, I couldn’t pick out any scene that was missed. Batman’s inner monologue is gone, but that may be for the better. I don’t know if I’d have enjoyed the movie if every scene was narrated by The God Damn Batman.


The story in Part 1 deals with Batman coming out of retirement to deal with the Mutant Gang, who have been terrorizing Gotham City. The leader of the Mutants is a ‘roided up, razor teethed psycho. It’s a cool story that works both on its own and as a set-up for Part 2, which is being released on January 29, 2013. The climatic battle between Batman and the leader of the Mutants is simply awesome.

The Mutant Gang have a similar eye-wear fashion sense as Cyclops from the X-Men.

The hardest part of enjoying any animated Batman movie for me is dealing with Kevin Conroy not voicing Batman. To me, and many others, Kevin Conroy is Batman, so hearing someone else’s voice come out of the character’s mouth can be jarring. But Peter Weller is great as Batman.

I highly recommend checking out Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1. It has replaced Batman: Under the Red Hood as my favorite DC animated feature. If you enjoyed the recent The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight rises movies, it’s worth checking out the story that helped inspire those two films.

I can’t wait for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 to be released. In the meantime, I think I’ll check out the DC animated movie of my other favorite Batman tale: Year One.

You can also read my interviews with Bruce Timm and Andrea Romano about the making of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.