Without The Dark Knight Returns there would be no Dark Knight film trilogy.
The Dark Knight Returns is Frank Miller’s great comic book series from 1986, featuring a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne who breaks his vow to never again put on the cape and cowl after a ten-year absence. Here’s what Jonathan Nolan, brother of Christopher Nolan and co-screenwriter of the Dark Knight films, had to say about it:
For my 13th birthday, Chris buys me a copy of The Dark Knight Returns. This isn’t a comic book — it’s a tear in the space-time continuum, a grime-caked lens through which you can glimpse an entire alternate universe. I don’t know if I should put it on my bookshelf or bury it in the back yard, like a radioactive ember.
I know exactly how he feels. If there was one comic book that led to my becoming a cartoonist — my latest comic book was just reviewed here at PJ Media — it was The Dark Knight Returns. And Miller’s portrayal of The Joker in the book defined the character for me, showing him to be the mass-murdering psychopath that was only hinted at in previous stories.
When we meet The Joker in the story, he’s basically catatonic in Arkham Asylum, that is, until news hits that Batman’s returned. Then in The Dark Knight the late Heath Ledger brought that character to life in a performance so strong that his version of The Joker still has the Internet currently asking and answering the question, “What’s The Joker doing during The Dark Knight Rises?” I’ve read and heard a number of theories, and if The Joker were to have a cameo in the film, here’s what I think would be a good one.
Next: I take a look at the ending of The Dark Knight and why nothing good can be built on a lie.