2016 marks the 30th Anniversary of Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" which was initially a mini-series of comics that followed Bruce Wayne in his mid-fifties, about 30 years or so after an event so tragic, Bruce had to hang up the cape and cowl.
This comic, called "One of the pillars of modern comics" by The New York Times, and included on Time magazine's "Top 10 Graphic Novels of all time" is considered to be one of the most iconic renditions of Batman. Spawning not only a sequel series called "The Dark Knight Returns: The Master Race" but two animated feature films based on the comic's events, this comic has effectively influenced that history of Batman over the past 30 years. Bits and pieces from the comic can be seen all through out most incarnations of Batman. So, in honor of the comic's 30th Birthday, we're going to count down the Top 3 influences that The Dark Knight Returns has had over the last 30 Years of Batman. Starting with...
#3 DC Comics as a whole
In the very first issue of "The Dark Knight Returns", we meet a young girl named Carrie Kelly, being attacked by a group of thugs called "The Mutant Gang" only for the thugs to be thwarted by Batman's "Hammers of Justice". This sparks an idea inside Carrie's mind to become a superhero and assist Batman in his quest for justice against the forces of evil. However, she settles for becoming the very first female Robin in comic book history. This influence would end up lasting through the entire DC Multiverse, from being a full-on sidekick to Batman in the New 52
to helping out her friend Damien Wayne with his acting skills as a college student attending GCC
to even being included in the animated DC Properties!
#2: The Dark Knight Trilogy
Christopher Nolan's famous trilogy is considered to be one of the best cinematic portrayals of Batman ever, with each film scoring no less than an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, Nolan also was able to cleverly sneak countless homages to The Dark Knight Returns through the whole series. From Harvey Dent's campagin slogan in The Dark Knight
Possibly the largest influence that Nolan's trilogy takes from "The Dark Knight Returns" is the sub-plot of "The Dark Knight Rises". The movie starts off with Bruce Wayne being a recluse, hiding away in Wayne Manor living his days out drinking alcohol and letting the City of Gotham wither away into nothing while the Harvey Dent Act fails to stop the terrorist attacks and gang violence that is taken place, and ravaging the city. However, Bruce Wayne cannot keep The Batman dead and buried, so he dons the cape and cowl once again to bring justice to the city, adding cybernetic augmentations to his body and his suit in order to counteract the effects of his age and injuries. This mirrors Frank Miller's comic almost exactly the only difference being that in The Dark Knight Returns it's Batman's ARM that needs a mechanical pick-me-up, as opposed to his leg.
However, probably the most prominent influence that Frank Miller's infamous comic book has had on the Batman character we know and love today is...
Batman Vs. Superman: The Battle of the GODS
Ever since Batman and Superman first teamed up in the Golden Age of comics, fanboys everywhere argued about who would win in a fight, The Bat from Gotham, or The Last Son of Krypton. In 1986, The Dark Knight Returns answered that question with this infamous page from the climactic battle
Fun Fact: The lines from this panel were actually used to announce that the sequel to "Man of Steel" would not be a solo Superman movie, but that Batman would be showing up to take on the Son of Krypton. This fight goes on for several pages, and it goes to show Batman's genius and ability as a battle strategist, using Superman's weaknesses against him.. ALL of them.
Now, 30 years later, we get to see this fight take place on the silver screen, with Zack Snyder's rendition of this epic showdown, along with featuring Wonder Woman, and cameos by Aquaman, The Flash, and even Cyborg! In case you haven't seen it enough times already, here's the final trailer for the flick!
You can catch "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" in theaters on March 25th, 2016. Its sure to be an even worthy of baring The Dark Knight's name! However, if you want to pick up the comic book that started it all, you can find the 30th Anniversary edition of Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" at your local Bookstore, or Comic Book shop, as well as online right now!