In honor of the upcoming release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, DC Comics News is proud to present Countdown To Batman V Superman; a look at the history of these 2 iconic legends right before they meet for the first time on the big screen. Site Owner Damian Fasciani gives us a commentary on a graphic novel set with the backdrop of Reaganomics and the nearing end of The Cold War – The Dark Knight Returns.
I am looking at one of the most iconic DC Graphic Novels of our time, one that has gone on to being a key inspiration behind BvS in The Dark Knight Returns.
I distinctly remember Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice being announced at San Diego Comic Con in 2013, and even though that was three years ago time has gone so fast. Fast forward to 2016 and we are days away from the world-wide release across theatres internationally. I will never forget the manner in which this film was announced to the public. Harry Lennix who was in Man of Steel comes out on stage and reads out a set of lines from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. At that moment, at that very moment when he read those lines out, my heart rose into my throat and I stopped breathing for a moment. That is when I knew, Zack Snyder would deliver the comic book dreams of not just me, but fans all over world on the big screen. Let’s relive that moment.
When Frank Miller wrote Dark Knight Returns, he changed the game drastically on how comic book stories where told. He brought a cold, gritty, dark, formidable tone that was so breathtaking it changed our relationship we had with the Dark Knight forever. We know that Zack Snyder has used this iconic book as part of the inspiration for his film (Batman v Superman) and given the story centres around a great deal of animosity between both Batman and Superman, we know we will be in for one hell of a ride.
The Dark Knight Returns is set in a time when heroes are a thing of a past, they have either retired, bunkered down, or have been forced to kneel to the cold face of the American government. Superman being used as a political pawn in this story I find fascinating, and his position within the Whitehouse drives Bruce Wayne crazy inside. How will Zack Snyder take some of this animosity that Bruce has for Clark and mould it to his DC Universe on-screen?
The concept of an aged, retired Bruce Wayne who has been out of the game for a decade drew me to the story originally. Here is a man who has no super powers and is still battling with his own mortality. Age waits for no man, time waits for no man, and we all have to grow old. That is out of our control, it is out of Bruce’s control. Makes you understand why he despises Superman so much. This part of the famous book played a key role in the casting of Bruce Wayne / Batman in BvS. Snyder knew he wanted an aged Bruce Wayne, someone who had been fighting crime for decades and knew “the game”. Enter Ben Affleck. A move we all didn’t see coming, and while I had my own personal list of actors who could play that part I settled quite happily with the decision after seeing a few trailers. Most of us did.
The aged Bruce Wayne is looking for an edge, looking for a way back into “the game”. He has this constant battle in his mind that he isn’t finished being the Batman, he needs to understand that he has still got it in him; to do what he used to do for Gotham. That drives him, deep down it consumes him. Ben Affleck would have studied that intimately to portray what will be the oldest Batman we have seen on the big screen.
Enter Clark Kent, Superman, the Man of Steel. Here we have the classic boy scout who in the eyes of Bruce Wayne is running errands for the American President. It makes Wayne sick to the pit of his stomach. Superman was told by the Government to “retire” with force if need be, the superheroes that used to fight for good. Henry Cavill’s role of Superman in this upcoming film may not be as close to its source in this book. From what we can tell in the previews we have seen is that the only similarity is that Superman can be manipulated, by both the people of planet earth, and by Lex Luther. I won’t delve into that too deeply because I haven’t seen the film as yet.
One of the most iconic parts to The Dark Knight Returns is that battle between the two characters. When Batman doesn’t back down to the demands of Superman, there is only one way in his mind it needs to be settled. Through battle. Wayne thinks it through, part of the traits of a seasoned crime fighter is that he has multiple scenarios covered off. Everything from the start to the end of the battle is planned (and with his good friend to assist in Oliver Queen). As a side note I would love to have seen Amell in the DC Universe! Having witnessed snippets of the classic battle between these two characters over several trailers humanises the comic book, the battle suite, the gadgets, the dialog. We simply can’t wait to see how Snyder has taken such an iconic fight sequence and place it into this film. He is embarking on history in placing two massive characters in the one film, and to overlay a dark tone over the story will be something we haven’t really seen before.
When I explain my love for DC Comics to my friends and family, I always talk about The Dark Knight Returns. The spine of the story is based on a man that is fighting his own inner demons, and will not buckle under pressure. An aged Bruce Wayne comes to realise that his biggest opponent at that stage of his life is himself. That is what drives him. You can take that and place it into reality, it’s personally very relatable. That is part of the reason why I love Batman so much, and why I love the story so much. We as humans will never be happy in our lives if we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, we must focus inward and get better as humans. This is what drives Bruce, and I am keen to see how this is applied (if at all) in BvS.
If you have happened to not have read The Dark Knight Returns, please do before you see Batman v Superman. An iconic book / story that has and will continue to stand the test of time. The next five years will be an exciting time for DC fans, Zack Snyder holds the keys to building out our DC Universe on film. I have complete faith that he will do us all proud as fans.
Comment and please let me know your thoughts.