“The Dark Knight Returns” on DVD


I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, even more than “Rises.” AND even though — or especially because — I know what’s going to happen. Same goes for the animated “Year One,” but I still haven’t seen that one. For some reason, the appeal of “Returns” was too great (and with the Citibank Thank You Rewards points, ordering crap you don’t need is simpler than ever!).

So I got it. I watched it.

It’s good.

And that’s about it.

It’s one of the rare times where I have personally experienced the phenomenon of reading the book before the movie, so it’s consequently one of the few times where I can authoritatively say that the book is way better. Which it is. Famously, the biggest loss in making “Returns” into a movie is the cutting of the voice over, which means you lose some of the greatest elements and lines of the book. In short, the voice over from the book is probably responsible for 70% of what makes that book great. 

“Something leaps over a building in a single bound.”

“Lucky. Lucky old man.” (which you could probably work in, but y’know…)

“Something tells me to stop with the leg.”

The thing with the voice over is that you not only get an insight into Batman’s psyche, but it also (I believe) makes him seem less crazy. Without the inner monolog, Batman’s actions make him look insane. Which, I suppose, he might be, but in reading the book, I’ve never believed.

Now, I’m sort of a notoriously bad reader. I think the first time I read this book (when I was about 14), I didn’t understand how the ending worked. Only in a later readings did I get other aspects of the story (the Joker killing all those Cub Scouts for example). But I’ve never really bought into the idea that Batman/Bruce is certifiably crazy. He’s definitely eccentric. But given the insane world in which he inhabits, where absolutely nobody but him can be trusted, and the fact* that Batman is doing his best to stop murderers, and given my own simplistic view of stories where there MUST BE a hero, I’ve always sympathized with him. If he’s crazy, then this crazy world made him so. The internal monologue, I believe, helped make Batman seem less crazy. He had a rationale for almost everything. A crazy-prepared rationale, but a rationale nonetheless.

Without the internal monologue, however, Batman DOES start to come off as a little deranged. We’re often left only with his actions, and they seem brutal and less rationalized. Actions speak louder than words, but they speak WAY LOUDER than no-words. I can kind of see why they’d cut it, to make it “more like a movie,” but “Sin City” had interior monologues up the wazoo, and that was great fun. Frank Miller adaptation, even. Maybe they wanted to make this movie “more like the other Batman movies.”

Still… I’m looking forward to the next one. Super creepy Joker will be played by super creepy Michael Emerson, and the Superman fight is coming up. It marks when of the few times** when I support making a movie multiple parts instead of making hard cuts.


**The only other time I can think of is “Kill Bill.” And that might be simply because two parts meant that we got more movie. The splits of the story I do not support include the final “Harry Potter” movie (they could’ve gotten that down to one) and the now THREE PART “Hobbit” movie (come on!).


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