The Dark Night Returns, Frank Miller’s seminal meditation on an aging Bruce Wayne called back into service by the career he can’t quite leave behind, has influenced all Batman comics since then. Each and every Batman depiction has either been opposing Miller’s version or borrowing from it.
It’s no surprise it also informed Batman movies. The Dark Knight Rises, for example, borrowed somewhat from it and so has Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
First “leaked” yesterday in a blurry, low res version (said leak being just as plausibly a studio publicity stunt), the HD version of the trailer made its way onto YouTube today. And it bears the unmistakable imprint of Frank Miller’s classic.
Start with this shot of Batman.
Batman, in a metal suit of armor. Now compare it to this single panel from The Dark Knight Returns.
Same suit. To a “T”.
I’m not criticizing the film-makers, if you’re going up against Superman, you need to do everything you can to even the odds and a suit of armor makes perfect sense. Only now I’m wondering how much of the fight itself, including the surprise ending, will make it from the comic onto the silver screen.
Even though I love the comic, and am excited to see that fight, I’m not excited for the movie. I actually like a lot of what Zack Snyder does, and have ever since Dawn of The Dead. 300 was incredible, and Watchmen likewise excellent. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole was pretty much perfect, except for the name.
But nearly ALL of his movies (excepting Legend of the Guardian) have deep flaws. Sucker Punch is worth it just for the fight scenes, which were unbelievably good, however they each belonged in a separate movie, not piled together higgledy-piggledy in the same one.
And Man of Steel was just wrong. Too many primary themes (Jesus figure! They hate aliens! Daddy issues!), and the killing at the end was NOT Superman.
I was worried anyway, since DC is intent not only to rush its Cinematic Universe, but to ensure that none of its other properties fit into it (pretty much the exact opposite of Marvel’s wildly successful strategy). One movie to launch four, instead of five movies which allow us to get to know the characters separately before bringing them together. The latter is more satisfying for the audience.
In addition to that, trying to build the entire DCCU off the deeply flawed Man of Steel strikes me as worrisome. And then allowing Zack Snyder to mastermind it all? Alarm bells are ringing and red lights flashing.
Of course the movie doesn’t come out until March, 2016. Plenty of time to fiddle. And it MIGHT be good.
But that’s not the way to bet.