Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is the most influential Batman story of all time. For better or worse, the series defined the hero for the modern era and you can still detect its fingerprints in modern comics, games and movies. There were elements of the story in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and, of course, a whole lot of it placed into Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Yesterday, Snyder treated fans to a live commentary for the aforementioned film, which has just celebrated its fourth birthday. During it, he spoke at length about how The Dark Knight Returns had informed his story. While the pic tells a very different tale from the comic, both share a grizzled older Bruce Wayne who’s become more extreme in how he deals with criminals. But the biggest similarities come in the title fight between Batman and Superman. This is practically lifted from the climax of the comic, with the Caped Crusader’s mech suit, anti-Superman weaponry and dialogue taken wholesale from Frank Miller.
There’s so much The Dark Knight Returns in the movie that many assumed it scotched an actual live-action adaptation, but Snyder doesn’t think so. During the chat, he said he believes that Batman V Superman doesn’t mean a Dark Knight Returns adaptation won’t happen. And he’s right that many elements of the comic don’t appear, like Bats coming out of retirement, the rise of the Mutant Gang and Bruce leading an army of vigilantes on horseback during social unrest. And let’s face it, all that stuff would kick ass in full live-action.
Of course, there has been a straight Dark Knight Returns adaptation before. In 2012 and 2013, Warner Bros. released a two-part animated flick which is pretty damn good. Some genius decided to cast RoboCop himself, Peter Weller, as Batman and he did a fantastic job. It’s not a perfect film, but it gets the important parts of the story right. And while I don’t see a full live-action version coming anytime soon, if they did end up making it, I’d be there day one to see it.