Batman the Dark Knight Returns Part 2 continues the animated story released in September 2012 adapting Frank Miller’s comic book series. While the first part of the story is more about how Batman returns to put some order back in Gotham City, the second part of the movie presented here, is about the return of the world of the super hero. Batman must defeat his two biggest foes, the Joker and Superman. Will he survive?
A story involving Batman against Superman is an event. One where he fights the Joker is also an event. Besides the original comic book where it occurred, this is one of the few places that you will see Batman fight the joker to the death. Here, the Joker challenges Batman into participating in one of his usual cat and mouse games where for some reason Joker sets the rules and Batman just follows along.
We’ve seen this story several times. Joker taunts Batman to kill him by killing even more innocents. Perhaps Miller’s original story has been used as the model for all of the other stories that use this set up. However, the overall goal of the fight against Joker – proving that Batman doesn’t kill and that if he does, he has failed some kind of moral standard only he and Joker care about - has no merit here. The moment Joker dies by Batman’s hand, no one cares anymore that a rule has been broken.
Which is why it’s not very credulous, as much of the first part of the movie was to see Batman waste so much energy to defeat an opponent he could have easily taken out. Why didn’t he just deal with the Joker before he went to the television studio to kill everybody there instead of fighting an army of cops in order to get to the villain and ultimately fail to reach him in time? Isn’t Batman as responsible for Joker’s actions?
Again, the same question has to be asked about why Superman who could have defeated Batman in seconds takes his sweet little time to fight him in Crime Alley, make an appointment with him, only to see much of downtown Gotham City destroyed in the act? Just like Batman was wasting his time, Superman was criminally wasting even more time.
My view about these weak plot points and acts of contrition that the guest speakers on the Blu-Ray extras painstakingly try to explain to viewers have no merit. For them, the fact that Superman takes the time to set a rendez-vous with Batman before the big gladiatorial fight is impressive and something mythical. For me it is idiotic and a failed attempt to justify some repressed childhood wish for Miller to see a big fight between Superman and Batman. In essence, I’m saying that the super hero genre can have its misses and inconsistencies which elevate a work of poor merit like The Dark Knight Returns to great literature when it’s just an opportunity for a nerdy writer to execute a sexual wish trip. There are no undertones in this story. Yes Reagan is the embodiment of evil Republican politicians; the Joker’s psychiatrist is scholarly and rehabilitation believing moron; the media are clueless; and the new lesbian police chief out of touch. Yes, this is all true in this story but the problem with the expositions of these so called truths, first by Miller and almost 30 years later by the Warner Animation Studio, is that compared to say V for Vendetta or The Watchmen, there is no real deconstruction of the super hero genre or any valid commentary on 1980s society and politics. It’s simply an empty graphic fest and poorly thought out story with no intellectual merit that has continued to be praised for decades as one of the best thing ever created about super heroes and comics. I think it’s time we laid that myth to rest now.
The animation is impressive for the efforts used to create a semi-realistic world that combines the look of Frank Miller with the mechanics of modern animation. Tanks, cars and helicopters are rendered in 3D. Clouds and electrical effects benefit from the most intensive visual effects found in film. Yet the overall visual identity of the piece does not match. It’s attempting to do too much instead of just sticking to one solid style of animation. The animators created this mess because they could, not because it made sense to.