Peter Weller Cast As Batman In DC’s Animated The Dark Knight Returns

The Dark Knight Rises isn’t the only upcoming film Batman fans should be anticipating. As part of their ‘DC Universe Animated Original Movies’ line – an ongoing series of direct-to-video titles like All-Star Superman, Batman: Year One, and Wonder Woman Warner Bros. animation is producing a two-part adaptation of Frank Miller’s seminal 1986 masterwork The Dark Knight Returns.  And today, we finally know who’s playing Batman.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Peter Weller – best known for his iconic turn in RoboCop – will be voicing the caped crusader. Fans had hoped DC would somehow get Clint Eastwood out of acting retirement for the role, given the actor’s influence on Miller’s graphic novel, but Weller is an exciting substitution. With his distinctive, intimidating voice, he’ll likely give the role the weight it needs, and it’s easy to hear him reciting Miller’s gritty dialogue.

For those unaware, The Dark Knight Returns was a four-part comic miniseries published in 1986, and later collected into a graphic novel. In it, a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement after ten years away from donning the cowl. At the same time, several of his greatest foes – such as Two-Face and the Joker – return, and Batman’s perceived role in the escalating violence prompts action by the Gotham police and the United States government.  The novel is perhaps best remembered for one of the most iconic showdowns in the history of DC comics: the climactic battle between Batman and Superman.

A profound inspiration to Tim Burton for his 1989 Batman film, and an apparent influence on Christopher Nolan‘s upcoming Dark Knight Rises – which borrows the concept of Batman returning to action after a decade away – fans have clamored for a cinematic version of Dark Knight Returns for years. Given DC’s impressive animated track record, this 2-part adaptation is an exciting prospect, and Weller’s casting indicates the studio is serious about getting this one right. They will have to stay true to the gritty, crushingly dark tone of Miller’s original for the film to capture the novel’s power, and Weller is a big step in that direction.

The Dark Knight Returns is being directed by Jay Oliva, storyboard artist for Zack Snyder‘s upcoming Man of Steel film. THR also provided additional casting tidbits: Ariel Winter of Modern Family will play Carrie Kelly, a young feminine Robin; Wade Williams (Prison Break) will portray Two-Face, while Michael McKean will play the psychiatrist who helps free him from Arkham Asylum, Dr. Wolper. David Selby will also star in an unknown role.

No word yet on other crucial pieces of casting like the Joker, Alfred, or Superman.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1 will arrive on home video this fall, with Part 2 scheduled for early 2013. It will definitely be worth watching out for.