Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, part II

Batman the Dark Knight Returns part II

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Feigning regret for his past, Joker convinces Wolper to take him on a talk show to tell his story; he makes plans for his escape with his old henchman who supplies him with mind-controlling lipstick. Meanwhile, Superman — who works as a government operative in exchange for being allowed to covertly help people — is asked by the President to end Batman’s vigilantism. Framing these events is a growing hostility between the USA and the Soviet Union over possession of the island of Corto Maltese.

As Batman’s continued presence humiliates the national authorities, Yindel becomes commissioner and orders Batman’s arrest. Superman warns Batman that the government will not tolerate him much longer. Joker makes his talk show appearance as Batman fights with the GCPD on the studio roof; while they fight, Joker kills Wolper and gasses everyone in the studio to death and escapes. He finds Selina Kyle and uses one of her escorts and his lipstick to take control of a congressman and make him call for a nuclear strike on the Soviets before falling to his death.

Batman’s investigation leads him to Kyle, who he finds bound and dressed like Wonder Woman. Kelley notices cotton candy on the floor and Batman deduces Joker is at the fairgrounds. There, Kelley accidentally kills Joker’s attacking henchman while Batman pursues the Joker, who indiscriminately guns down dozens of people. As Batman corners a wounded and partially blinded Joker, he admits to feeling responsible for every murder Joker has committed and intends to stop him permanently. The pair fight, which ends in Batman being stabbed repeatedly and him breaking Joker’s neck in front of witnesses. Content that he made Batman lose control and that he will be branded a murderer, the Joker finishes twisting his neck, killing himself. The GCPD arrive and the profusely bleeding Batman fights his way to Kelley and escapes as the Joker’s body burns in flames.

After Superman deflects a Soviet nuclear missile, he is hit with the blast and badly injured; the detonation creates an electromagnetic pulse that wipes out all electrical equipment in the United States and causes a nuclear winter. As the city descends into chaos, Batman, Kelley, and Gordon rally the Sons of Batman and the citizens of Gotham to restore order, and Yindel accepts that Batman has become too powerful to take down. While the rest of the powerless U.S. is overrun with crime, Gotham becomes the safest city in America, embarrassing the President’s administration and causing them to send Superman to finally stop Batman; Batman and Superman agree to meet in Crime Alley. Wearing a powerful exoframe and supported by Kelley and former Green Arrow Oliver Queen, Batman fights Superman, using various tactics to make the fight even. When Superman gains the advantage, Queen hits him with a Kryptonite arrow that severely weakens him. Batman beats Superman and claims that he intentionally made the Kryptonite weak, only wanting to be the man who beat Superman. Batman then dies of a heart attack while Wayne Manor self-destructs and Alfred dies of a stroke.

In the aftermath, the world learns that Wayne was Batman; all of his secrets are destroyed with the manor and his finances have disappeared. As Superman leaves Wayne’s funeral he gives Kelley a knowing wink after noticing a faint heartbeat. In underground caves, Wayne is revealed to have faked his death, and makes preparations to continue his mission more discretely, allied with Kelley, Queen, and his followers. Wayne states that this will be a good life, “good enough.”

REVIEW:

Continuing with this dark story of what Batman would be like as grumpy old man, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt. II brings us some familiar characters like the Joker, Selina Kyle (Catwoman), Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), and Superman. Are they as jaded as Bats? How have they held up over time? What about the characters we were introduced to in the first part? Do all of these questions get answered?

What is this about?

Along with new sidekick Robin, the Dark Knight has reclaimed Gotham City, but his return has awakened a terrible new – yet familiar – threat. The Joker has resurfaced with an evil plot that may pull Batman down to the darkest levels of insanity.

What did I like?

Classic Batman. In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt I, Batman didn’t feel like Batman, even in the climactic fight scenes, but in this one we get more of the brute detective that has made the character such a lasting one. He dons disguises, beats up the bad guys, mentors Robin, and even throws out a few one-liners. In other words, this Batman is a mixture of all the incarnations. Whether you’re a fan of the kitschy 60s Batman or the more realistic one of the Nolan films, you’re sure to enjoy this take on the character.

Superman. Not since the Superman cartoons of the 90s have I seen a Superman that brings to the screen everything we have come to love about him. While I would have loved for Tim Daly to have provided his voice, I had no issue with the guy who did, his name escapes me at the moment, though. The invincible boy scout, as he tends to be portrayed when paired with Batman, appears to be a government weapon, but this is a dark alternative timeline, so it makes sense. I’m just glad they didn’t try to turn him into something he isn’t (my big fear with the upcoming Man of Steel).

What didn’t I like?

Character design. I believe I said this in my review for part I, but I am not a fan with the way the characters are designed. It isn’t as bad this go around, but that may have something to do with getting used to the style. Still, the Joker should never, ever be the size of a linebacker. It appears as if he hasn’t really aged, so there is no so-called age-weight on him, plus he’s been in a catatonic state all this time, so why does he look like he’s been hitting the gym?

Selina. Bringing in Selina Kyle wasn’t a big deal, but Joker randomly puts her in a Wonder Woman costume. Two issues with this. She’s Catwoman! Why not put her back in one those outfits? Second, what does Wonder Woman have to do with anything? She wasn’t even mentioned! Unless there is some reference in the graphic novel that leads up to this, there was no reasoning to put her in this get up!

Pose. Speaking of strange costumes, when we first see Superman talking to Bruce Wayne they are out horse riding. First off, last time I saw Bruce riding horses he was doing his playboy thing. Doesn’t necessarily seem like the thing to do with a friend/associate. That isn’t my qualm, though. Throughout this whole scene Superman/Clark Kent is doing his best Fabio impersonation, complete with eagle on his arm. I don’t know if this was meant for some kind of comic effect or not, but it seems out-of-place and unnecessary.

Joker. The Joker didn’t feel like the Joker to me. I said this about Heath Ledger’s version of him in The Dark Knight, too. As much as I didn’t like that wild man version in The Batman, at least he had a Joker-type feel. This version was too serious for my taste. Much of that may have had something to do with the voice they gave him. The voice didn’t match the character.

Critics have been lauding Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt II as one of the best Batman films ever made. I don’t see it that way. Truth be told, there isn’t anything that terribly special about this. This time tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll have forgotten most of what I just saw. That may come off as a bit harsh, but that’s the way I saw it, sorry. Still, I suppose if you’re into Batman enough to check out this film, you’re sure to like it, at least, so check it out!

3 out of 5 stars

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