As we all know by this point, DC Comics has used 2014 as the perfect excuse to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of everyone’s favorite Caped Crusader.
Whether it be by perfect timing or some other form of cosmic fate, this series has reached its own occasion to toss its celebratory hat into the ring again (see my “Batman: Year One” review). Like said story, this entry takes place in the same time-span of its predecessor. This tale is truly defined as one of the most definitive yarns about the character. Today, we cover the home video adaptation of…
Based off the critically-acclaimed four-issue mini-series from 1986 written & drawn by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Jenson and colored by Lynn Varley, this tale was so big that it was originally split into two separate releases. Part 1 was released on September 25, 2012 while Part 2 came out on January 29, 2013. On October 8, 2013, both parts were combined in a “Deluxe Edition”. Let’s dive in and see how this iconic tale follows up on Year One.
We open to Gotham City in 1986 where Bruce Wayne (voiced by RoboCop’s Peter Weller) is in a race called the Neumann Elimination as he manages to swerve around opposing drivers in order to get the lead. However, his race car is being pushed to its limits as he rips out his vehicle’s automated override to order to keep going. In the end, his car malfunctions and he ends up violently spinning & flipping through the air. Fortunately, a newscaster informs us that he escaped with minor injuries.
Inter cut with a series of news telecasts about the rise of crime and murders from the Mutant Gang is the announcement that James Gordon (voiced by David Selby), the 70-year-old and soon-to-be-former police commissioner, has gotten death threats from said gang. According to newscaster Lola Chong (voiced by Gwedoline Yeo), it also happens to be a full decade ago since Batman was last seen in Gotham.
Later on as they have drinks, we learn from Bruce that fellow Gothamites have lost hope in the time since Batman’s retirement and that the random acts of violence is what’s helping the Mutant Gang’s rise in power. Gordon finds out that Bruce hasn’t talked to Dick Grayson (the first Robin) in a long time, especially since Jason Todd’s death. With that, Bruce calls it a night.
As he makes his way through Crime Alley on his way home, he’s then confronted by two members of the Mutant Gang. Armed with knives, they prepare to “Slice & Dice” their victim. Bruce stands posed and ready to challenge them, but they back off and head out as they didn’t want to face someone who’s “into it”.
Later at Wayne Manor, Bruce is unable to sleep due to past memories of building towards Batman continually creeping into his dreams. As such, he heads down into the Bat Cave where he sees the Robin costume once belonging to Jason Todd reminding himself of his personal promise: “Never Again”. Just then, his butler Alfred Pennyworth (voiced by radio commentator Michael Jackson) arrives and tells him that not only has a state of somnambulism brought him down there, but also that he unknowingly shaved off his mustache.
The next day at the Arkham Home for the Emotionally Troubled, plastic surgeon Dr. Herbert Willing (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) and psychiatrist Dr. Bartholomew Wolper (voiced by Michael McKean) were able to physically and mentally heal the villain formerly known as Two-Face, former District Attorney Harvey Dent (voiced by Wade Williams). At a press conference, he tells the reporters that he plans on rebuilding his once-good reputation and even shows off both sides of his unscratched coin. However, we quickly find out that he disappeared shortly upon his release.
That night as Bruce hears about Dent’s disappearance via the news, various other newscasts of the Mutant Gang’s continuous murder spree along with the film “The Mark of Zorro” triggers the painful memory of his parents getting shot and killed by Joe Chill shortly after seeing the movie. Bruce is then mentally greeted by Batman and is told that he can no longer be suppressed. With unchecked crime on the rise, he comes to the ultimate realization of what he must do.
Through a small series of scenes, Batman has slowly but surely started to bring his presence back onto the lowlifes of Gotham. It culminates at an arcade where Carrie Kelley (right, voiced by Ariel Winter) and her friend Michelle (voiced by Tara Strong) are heading home when the lights go out and they’re confronted by the Mutant Gang. Just then, Batman easily saves the two girls as he defeats their attackers.
We then cut to a group of masked thugs trying to escape after robbing the Gotham City Trust as a pair of cops (one veteran and one rookie) give chase, even after the young officer notices another car speeding away in the opposite direction. Just then, Batman dives down and helps the police by blocking the thugs’ windshield. He then dives away just as the car crashes into a demolition site as the thugs use the dilapidated building to try and hide out.
After picking the thugs off one by one, Batman cripples the final robber enough as he discovers that he also has a coin that’s scratched on both sides, realizing that he and his cohorts are working for Two-Face. He tells the veteran cop about the second car that easily escaped from them since it was an old jalopy and that he needs to talk to Gordon before slipping away into the night.
In a series of newscasts, Batman’s heroics have been taken notice by the Gothamites as thugs and Mutants alike have been brought to justice. Within this media onslaught is a message from the Mutant Leader (voiced by Gary Anthony Williams of Whose Line fame) who threatens Gordon’s life and claims that he’ll personally take care of Batman.
Eventually, Batman manages to get the necessary information (though not much) from the wounded thug as Gordon once again lights up the night sky with the Bat-Signal. Upon the arrival, James informs the Caped Crusader that two helicopters (one a newer & greatly-armed chopper and the other being an old army surplus) were stolen. Batman states that whatever Two-Face in planning, it’ll happen tomorrow night on the second of the month and it’ll be “twice as big as anyone can imagine”. Dent has even re-wrapped his own face in bandages. They ultimately figure out that it’ll be the Gotham Life Building that will end up being attacked.
The next night, Batman hides in the shadows as he sees the helicopters arrive with the newer one firing a missile onto the Gotham Life Building. After hijacking the airwaves, Two-Face makes his demands. In 22 minutes, he’ll destroy the structure with two bombs (one on each tower) unless he’s given a ransom of $22 million.
Batman first takes care of the side of the building that has the old surplus chopper by using gas tablets that not only allows him to stealthily take the thugs out, but it also attacks their nerves and leaves them in a fear-like state for a short time. After seeing that the first bomb is counting down, he realizes that it wasn’t a robbery. Two-Face wanted to go down in flames and take thousands of innocent lives with him. He disarms the bomb by using a mini-cryogenic jet gun from his utility belt.
He then uses the long-range grapple gun to launch a tightrope to the opposite tower and begins to cross upon securing the first end of his line. As the helicopter starts to take off, Two-Face shoots Batman off. Protected by his body armor, the Caped Crusader fires his grapple gun which strikes the inside of the chopper. Upon a great tug of the line, Two-Face falls out as Batman saves his life by crashing through a window and into the building as the helicopter flies off far enough for the bomb inside it to safely explode.
After Batman subdues the fiend and removes the bandages from his face, he discovers that Harvey Dent didn’t scar up his face at all. Dent became distraught by the fact that psychologically, he never fully-healed .
Inspired by Batman’s protection over herself and her friend the other night along with seeing the Bat-Signal lighting up the night sky, Carrie Kelley eventually manages to acquire a Robin costume as we get the iconic image of her putting it on for the first time in front of her mirror. Afterwards, she sneaks out to begin her own crime-fighting venture.
Meanwhile, Batman continues to make his presence felt as members of the Mutant Gang hold a two-year boy named Kevin Ridley hostage who’s also the eventual heir to the Ridley Chewing Gum company. They even state that they’ll kill the young lad even after they get the ransom money. Just then, Batman’s stealth tactics continue to pay off as he defeats the two male mutants before using their machine gun to wound the lone female of the group and save the boy.
Afterwards, he hangs the lone gang member he caught and bounds him upside-down off the side of a building in order to found out how he and his gang acquired those sophisticated guns. After arriving at the Gotham Army Base, he confronts the corrupt general who’s been selling the firepower to the Mutant Gang. It turns out that he has a dying wife and he couldn’t legally afford to get her the proper treatment. After Batman leaves the office, the ashamed general uses his own firearm and takes his life.
We then cut to Carrie Kelley who manages to overhear members of the Mutant Gang saying that a huge meeting is going down. Their boss, the Mutant Leader, wants them to gather at the garbage dump in an hour in order to prepare for war.
At the dump, the Mutant Leader is firing up the entire Mutant Gang as they prepare to storm the Gotham City Police Department, raid their weaponry and ultimately kill Commissioner Gordon.
Just then, Batman shows up in the Bat-Tank to confront the Mutant Gang as he takes them out with rubber bullets and specifically-targeted missile charges. Unbeknownst to him, Carrie also arrives as she uses her gymnastics training to smack a few mutants around.
After taking care of the Mutant Gang, Batman confronts their big boss who demands that he comes out and fights him. Despite Alfred’s warnings, he agrees to the Mutant Leader and exits the Bat-Tank.
With Carrie watching from afar, Batman confronts the Mutant King in hand-to-hand combat. The Dark Knight is initially able to put up a good fight, but his age starts to catch up as the youthful might of the vicious brute overpowers and severely injures him.
With a crowbar in hand, the Mutant Leader continues to wail away on his foe. Just as he prepares to finish him off for good, Carrie jumps onto him and digs into his eyes in order to blind him. This gives Batman enough recovery time to use a sticky capsule to cover the Mutant Leader’s face and knock him out.
After helping Batman get back to his Bat-Tank and climbing aboard herself, Carrie then uses an on-board pipe and part of her cape in order to make a sling for the Caped Crusader’s injured right arm. Approving her assistance, Batman has Alfred auto-pilot the Bat-Tank back to the Bat Cave.
Intercut with a TV debate on Batman, we find out that 83 members of the Mutant Gang were taken into custody, including the Mutant Leader. The Mutant Gang sends a video message where they promise to break their boss out and kill Gordon in the process. In response, The Mayor (voiced by Richard Doyle), in addition to naming Captain Ellen Yindel (voiced by Hawkgirl herself, María Canals Barrera) as Gordon’s successor, tries meeting with the Mutant Leader in order to negotiate. However, this ultimately proves pointless as the vicious leader wastes no time in killing him. Despite this, newly-appointed Mayor Stevenson (voiced by the legendary Frank Welker) is still willing to negotiate.
Back in the Bat Cave, Bruce realizes that he shouldn’t have tried to match brute force with the Mutant Leader and that Carrie can greatly help him defeat the Mutant Gang once and for all. As such, he has a plan for her to follow.
It gets set in motion as Carrie is disguised as a fellow mutant member. She then goes around to the rest of the gang to have them meet at “The Pipe” over at West River and 40th Street. Upon the completion of her assignment, the Bat-Signal lights up the night sky as Batman tells Gordon the only way to put a permanent end to their reign is to “humiliate them” and has him do one last task.
As such, James casually visits the Mutant Leader and tells him that he “came to say goodbye” before turning out the hallway lights and leaving. Just then, the cell block door opens. The Mutant Leader tries exiting through the hallway doors, but finds them locked. He then notices the ventilation shaft as he opens it up and starts crawling his way to freedom.
Upon reaching the sewers, the Mutant Leader reaches “The Pipe” and sees a large majority of his gang right in front of a pool of mud with flaming barrels nearby. Batman emerges from behind and tackles him into the muck. For the rematch, the Dark Knight has the mud slow the Mutant Leader down just enough for him to score some precise hits on him. First, a cut on the forehead so that the blood will seep into his eyes and weaken his vision. Following up with two successful strikes to the deltoid that makes the Mutant King incapable of using his left arm, Batman ultimately defeats his foe by pinning him on the ground and crippling both his left arm and right leg, followed by a series of punches to the face.
With the Mutant Gang defeated, some broke off into smaller factions while the remaining members started up a new gang called the Sons of Batman. Inspired by the Caped Crusader, they plan on greatly enforcing the Dark Knight’s vigilante style of justice. As James Gordon packs up his belongings and steps down from his police commissioner duties, Part 1 ends in Arkham as the Joker (voiced by Michael Emerson) sees and hears newscasts talking about Batman as the mentions of his name manages to snap him back into his twisted state of mind.
Part 2 opens three months later at Arkham as Dr. Wolper is proud of the progress he’s making with the Joker. Inspired by his patient noticing him on late-night television, Bartholomew offers to let him be on a late night talk show alongside him so that his story can be told to the public.
Following a newscast informing the public that the Joker will be appearing on The Dave Endochrine Show, we cut to the White House where The President (voiced by Jim Meskimen) tells a certain superhero to take care of Batman and put an end to his brand of justice.
We cut back to Gotham where a gigantic female brute named Bruno (voiced by Tress MacNeille) is robbing a liquor store alongside two former members of the Mutant Gang. Just then, Batman comes in disguised as a stumpy, homeless lady and manages to strike back on them.
With her two henchmen defeated, Bruno makes a run for it as Batman informs Robin to lure her into the alley. As such, she uses her slingshot to score a small hit onto the towering behemoth. However, Bruno spots her and gives chase while firing away with her gun. Using her gymnastics skills, Robin hops onto a nearby fire escape as Bruno goes by her thinking that she’s hiding behind a nearby door.
Upon her entrance, Batman avoids oncoming grenade attacks as he manages to get the drop on Bruno. During the scuffle, we learn that the Caped Crusader is trying to figure out what the Joker has in store for his TV appearance. The fight ultimately makes its way down into the basement area when Superman (voiced by Mark Valley) arrives and brings the fight to an end by disabling Bruno’s firearm with his Heat Vision and subduing her with various pipes. Afterwards, Batman tells the Man of Steel that he’ll talk with him in the morning at his place. With that, Superman takes his leave.
In the world at large, the Soviet Union announces that they plan on driving U.S. forces out of the Latin American island of Corto Maltese. Despite this, the President says that they’re not backing down from the oncoming threat. When asked by a reporter for his position on the Batman situation since the government previously reached an agreement for him to stop his activities but is now back in action, he states that it’s not his main priority at the moment.
That evening in Gotham at a formal dinner, James Gordon officially hands over the reigns of police commissioner to Ellen Yindel. For her first act in her newly-acquired role, she issues an arrest warrant on Batman.
The next day and in his civilian disguise of Clark Kent, Superman meets up with Bruce Wayne on his horse ranch and tells him that he must retire from being Batman again since he’s upsetting towards government officials. Bruce mentions that the both of them, along with the rest of their fellow superheroes, have been seen as criminals since it was his Batman persona that got them shut down a decade ago, causing Wonder Woman to retreat back to Paradise Island and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan for those wondering which one) forced to leave Earth. When Bruce brings up Green Arrow, Clark says “that’s not how I wanted that to go” (keep this quote in mind for later). He then warns his human friend to stop being Batman or else the government will intervene again. Suddenly, Clark’s super-hearing catches wind of pending danger taking place far away as he speeds off.
It turns out that the Soviets have launched a full-scale attack on Corto Maltese in order to drive the United States military off the island nation. Fortunately, Superman leads the charge for the American Armed Forces as he starts to tear through the opposing army.
With the Joker about to hit the late-night circuit, Batman and Robin arrive via the Bat-Copter. After activating the cloak mechanism and telling Carrie to stay put & watch, the Caped Crusader glides down on top of the TV building. However, Commissioner Yindel and company were waiting for him. Fortunately, he breezes through the officers with a combination of smoke pellets and hand-to-hand combat (in addition to taking out the flood light).
Armed with nose filters and a special lipstick, the Joker joins Dr. Wolper as he makes his appearance on the Dave Endochrine Show. When Dave Endochrine (voiced by Conan O’Brien, yes seriously!) asks about the Joker’s past killings, Dr. Wolper defends his client by saying that it’s because of Batman that he’s become a victim of his own twisted ways.
Just then, the Joker smashes his complimentary coffee mug and kills Dr. Wolper by slitting his throat. Immediately afterwards, two ugly-looking robot kids named Bobby & Mary fly in and fill the studio room with the signature Venom Gas. Everyone from the audience members and the cameramen to Dave Endochrine end up as dead-smiling victims as the Joker casually escapes.
With Batman starting to get overwhelmed by the police, Carrie rewires the Bat-Copter’s voice controls and enables it enough to bail the Dark Knight out. Police choppers give chase, but Robin vocally activates the boosters as she and Batman escape. She also informs him that the Joker escaped since she followed the situation on the CB Radio.
We then cut to the Kyle Escorts building where Selina Kyle (also voiced by Tress MacNeille) is confronted by the Joker and has a kiss planted on her. It turns out that his lipstick allows him to brainwash his victims into doing whatever he wants them to do. As such, he plans on using her escort girl named Elise who’s having a date with a key congressman.
Also planted with the same mind-controlling lipstick, she passes it onto Hector Alejandro Noches who gets controlled into climbing onto the ledge of a 40-story building clad only in the American flag and demands for a nuclear assault on Corto Maltese. Upon seeing this on TV, Batman and Robin hop onto the twin motorcycle and speed off towards the situation. Unfortunately, a police officer trying to get the mind-controlled congressman back inside unintentionally makes him slip off the edge and fall to his utter demise.
Just then, Lt. O’Halloran arrives onto the scene and finds out that this wasn’t a suicide at all and that he was drugged by a woman from Kyle Escorts. With this realization, he takes his leave. Shortly afterwards, the actual Lt. O’Halloran arrives. Stunned, Commissioner Yindel orders her men to capture the impostor who’s actually Batman in disguise. Fortunately, he escapes alongside Robin as the police give chase towards Kyle Escorts.
Upon their arrival, they find the office torn apart and trashed. After venturing deeper, they find Selina in a Wonder Woman outfit and tied up. After learning about the mind-controlling lipstick, Robin finds cotton candy on the ground. Batman quickly realizes that the Joker is going to attack the fairgrounds next.
Just as Commissioner Yindel and company arrive to arrest them, Batman and Robin escape via the Bat-Wing. While trying to get into her harness, Carrie’s straps snap as she hangs onto Batman for dear life. After Robin is saved, she hugs Batman who calms her down by saying that she’s a “Good Soldier”.
Meanwhile, Joker and his plump associate (who gave his boss the two “accessories” and also built his mechanized children) arrive at the fairgrounds. Upon seeing his target, Bobby arms his bomb and flies up towards the Dynamic Duo. Just before the floating explosive reaches them, Batman and Robin drop off in time just as it goes KA-BOOM on the Bat-Wing.
While Robin takes care of Mary and the plump associate, Batman chases after the Joker. Armed with a hand gun, the Clown Prince of Crime fires back within the terrified crowd. He then gets hit by a series of Batarangs as Batman continues his pursuit.
With innocent civilians caught in the crossfire, Batman’s pursuit of the Joker goes through the Hall of Mirrors before culminating in the Tunnel of Love. Along the way, the Clown Prince of Crime manages to shoot several unfortunate people.
As they fight it out, a gunshot wound from earlier is made worse as the Joker connects with a severe cut of his knife before scoring multiple stabs to the gut. As such, Batman inadvertently snaps his foe’s neck. Proud by the fact that he pushed the Caped Crusader past his breaking point, the Joker finishes the job himself and dies. Batman then lays next to his deceased foe before passing out from his wounds.
He wakes up just in time as Commissioner Yindel and her fellow police officers are closing in on both ends of the tunnel. After placing a device on the Joker’s corpse, he hides just as Yindel and company arrive. When one of the officers gets too close, Batman activates the device which ignites the deceased criminal in flames.
After Batman uses mini-grenades to get police officers away, he’s confronted by Commissioner Yindel whom he quickly defeats and takes her hand gun. After placing an explosive on the wall, he manages to shoot it in order to blow open his escape and force the police officers back.
However, Batman is ultimately pinned within a series of electrical maintenance grids by the police’s unrelenting gunfire. Fortunately, Robin is able to use the Bat-Copter’s missiles as a distraction by blowing up various police cars as she helps the badly-wounded Caped Crusader escape back to Wayne Manor in order to get Alfred’s medical expertice.
Elsewhere in the world, every last Soviet troop was driven out of Corto Maltese. However, they retaliated by sending a nuclear missile to the U.S.-controlled island nation. Superman is able to redirect the warhead up into space, but he ends up in the middle of the explosion and is severely decimated by it. After crashing back down onto Earth, he absorbs the life essence of a nearby sunflower field in order to regain his strength.
Over at Wayne Manor, the heart-monitoring equipment shorts out as does the electricity within the home. As Bruce wakes up, he realized what happened. The nuclear missile’s explosion was in a precise part of the atmosphere to cause an electromagnetic pulse, creating a massive blackout not only in Gotham City, but the entire country as well. As such, he suits up again as he and Robin head out on horseback.
Back in the city, panic continues to build as James Gordon (who was out doing some grocery shopping for his wife Sarah Essen-Gordon) and fellow Gothamites see a passenger plane that was also effected by the electromagnetic pulse plummet to its fiery doom onto the streets.
With the chaos growing, the Sons of Batman see this moment as the perfect opportunity to spread their destructive justice onto the city. Just then, Batman and Robin arrive to take charge. The Dark Knight requests their help in bringing order to Gotham City without the need for guns.
With the blackout in full force, the citizens end up resorting to riots and full-scale looting. Meanwhile, the remaining members of the Mutant Gang easily break out of jail as they join the destructive chaos. Just then, both sides come across each other as they ultimately clash with one another.
Fortunately, the combined forces of Batman, Robin and the Sons of Batman arrive to bring the massive fight to an end. The Caped Crusader then has the opposing groups help each other out. Watching this from above, Commissioner Yindel is impressed by what she sees and decides to end her pursuit of him.
Meanwhile, the explosion from the downed plane has set fire to the neighborhood. Despite this, attempted looting to the nearby hardware store and massive apathy from the other citizens still continues. As such, James gets out his hand gun and fires a shot into the air to get their attention. He then orders them to work together in order to get the blaze under control. Thanks to this cause of action, citizens head into the hardware store to grab buckets while another citizen manages to get water out of a fire hydrant as they all work together to combat the flames. They manage to hold out long enough for the actual firefighters to arrive and get the fire under control. Just then, James remembered that Sarah is also in trouble from the blaze. He tries entering his apartment, but gets blown back by a backdraft as he becomes distraught. To his relief, Sarah runs up to him from the streets as they embrace.
In a series of newscasts, we learn that electricity has started to come back on throughout America a full week into the nuclear winter. Also noted is that Gotham City has become the safest city in the country thanks to Batman while the other major U.S. cities continue to been overwhelmed by looting, riots and crimes as the presidential administration becomes a laughing stock due to the limited martial law having almost no impact in stemming the outward chaos. At the White House, Superman meets up with the President as Clark Kent. He gets ordered by the leader of the free world to permanently take care of Batman once and for all.
Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce is visited by the former Green Arrow himself, Oliver Queen (voiced by Robin Atkin Downes). Five years after breaking out of jail, he went into hiding prepping for a moment like this. He tells Bruce that he wants to help him against Superman (implying on how he lost his left arm, note the conversation from earlier). Later, Bruce helps Carrie in horseback riding. Suddenly, a stream of Heat Vision burns out the message “Where?” to which Bruce answers “Crime Alley”.
In the Bat Cave, Batman preps himself by wearing an exoskeleton outfit that gives him enhanced strength. The scene ends with him and Alfred implying of a grand final plan that they have in store.
With government officials having closed off the downtown slums sector of Gotham, Batman and Robin arrive at their destination as the Dark Knight heads into Crime Alley. As Superman flies in to meet up with him, Batman launches a series of strategically-placed mini-homing missiles as they pound the Man of Steel around before he plummets to the ground. Robin then attacks him with the Bat-Tank, but Superman upends the massive vehicle on its side. Just then, Batman confronts him as they stand opposing one another.
From there, the two sides have their climatic fight as the Dark Knight does everything in his power to keep the Man of Steel on his toes. From using the city’s electrical grid to various pieces of construction equipment, Batman does all that he can to combat Superman.
Meanwhile, Robin is able to make the Bat-Tank go rightside-up again as she’s pursued by military jeeps. Not too far away, Oliver Queen takes out the U.S. Military’s sniper, but ends up getting chased by other governmental personnel. He eludes them long enough to get in range of the main confrontation as Superman starts to have Batman at his mercy. Oliver bails him out by shooting a specific arrow at the Man of Steel who catches it, but ultimately explodes a certain green mineral in his face.
It turns out that the arrow tip was made of synthetic Kryptonite, having cost Bruce lots of years and money to make. This gives Batman the extra advantage he needed as he manages to wail away on Superman just as Robin arrives to help Oliver Queen escape. Having defeated the Man of Steel without having to kill him, the Caped Crusader states that he could have made his homemade radioactive rock more potent but he wanted Kal to remember just who exactly it was that bested him.
Suddenly, Bruce has a heart attack and collapses. At the same time, Wayne Manor explodes due to Alfred activating the building’s self-destruct sequence. Shorty afterwards, the longtime family butler suffers and dies from a stroke.
One week later, a newscast reveals that Bruce Wayne’s secret identity as Batman has now become public knowledge and that all of his methods & tools were destroyed in the manor’s destruction, alongside all of his entire financial accounts and the entire Wayne family wealth. All of the familiar characters are in attendance at Bruce’s funeral, from Carrie Kelly, James & Sarah Essen-Gordon, to Selina Kyle and Commissioner Yindel. Even Superman is there in his earthly guise of Clark Kent.
Just as he begins leaving, his super-hearing picks up on a heart beat. Clark winks at Carrie to let her know that Bruce has faked his own death and is still alive.
And so, the film ends with Oliver Queen, the Sons of Batman and the Mutants constructing the new Bat Cave as Bruce Wayne arrives alongside Robin as he promises to teach them in his various methods in order to keep Gotham safe in discrete fashion.
There’s one other character that I didn’t talk about since she doesn’t effect too much of the story, Superman supporting character Lana Lang (voiced by Paget Brewster). In this film, she works for the Daily Planet as the Managing Editor and pops up a lot within Part 1 during the newscasts to argue in support of Batman. She believes that the Dark Knight’s return has helped the citizens of Gotham realize that they’ve always had the power to do good and that he’s nowhere near the same level of villainy as the criminals he rounds up. She also appears at Bruce’s funeral near the end of the overall film as well. I also think that it’s kind of interesting in the position that she has for this story, since she became Perry White’s secretary near the end of the critically-panned Superman III (which was the newest Superman film at the time the original source material came out) and achieves a higher-level office spot about three years later. Pretty fascinating.
There’s a lot of main characters to talk about, so let’s start off with Carrie Kelley. She has a spunky, high-energy personality that helps Batman get his second wind following the initial fight with the Mutant Leader. Inspired by him after being saved from the Mutant Gang and also seeing the Bat-Signal in the sky, she becomes an invaluable part of Batman’s war against crime since having a sidekick allows the Dark Knight to tackle a harrowing situation that he can’t do by himself ranging from gathering the Mutant Gang together in order to break up the group to being able to operate the various vehicles in order to assist or bail the Caped Crusader out. Through Carrie, Batman is able to remind himself of the values that comes with helpful youths. Plus, Ariel Winter does a great job in bringing the young innocence & swagger, along with the resourceful determination of the first female Robin.
Even though his presence isn’t felt until Part 2, the Joker continues to display why he’s an unpredictable force of nature to be reckoned with. Throughout Part 1, he was in a catatonic state until constant mentions of Batman’s name slowly-but-surely brought him out of it. I dig Michael Emerson’s performance on the Clown Prince of Crime, ranging from calm & sneaky to full-on maniacal insanity. Like Batman, he also has himself a sidekick of sorts in an un-named guy. However, his human sidekick lets the two mechanical death kids (both of whom have profanity-laced tongues in the source material but are quiet in the film) that he built do any kind of work, since when he tries taking on Robin, let’s just say it doesn’t go well for him. Because of Batman’s age, the Joker has more energy to try and kill his foe which ultimately forces the Caped Crusader to do a desperate act just to survive. Just a true archenemy, the Clown Prince of Crime knows how to bring out the worst out of the Dark Knight.
With Superman, he’s a tool for the government and is called upon by the President (who is totally Ronald Regan) to take care of the country’s biggest & most dire problems at the drop of a hat. During the final battle with Batman, there’s a sense that he doesn’t want to hurt his friend but he can’t go against his orders due to his boy scout personality. His noble sense of honor has turned him into a whipping boy for the higher-ups of the American government, yet he’ll act like it’s business as usual for him.
Finally, we have our main man himself. Just like in the stellar (and under-appreciated) “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm”, Bruce can never fully escape his dark destiny as he ultimately remembers to once again live up to the promise he made to his parents. As such, he restores the legendary fear he once had over Gotham’s criminal underworld and becomes both an inspirational leader for many and the envious target of hatred for others. Because of his age, Batman requires help in some way, shape, or form as he appreciates the value of assistance leading into his “second life”.
For the most part, the story is exactly like its source material. With the exception of switching some scenes around and trimming and/or altering the narration around, it hits the main points of its source material. Out of the entire straight-to-DVD/Blu-Ray series, this has some of the best animation. It’s fluent, the character’s voices match up with their lips, and any CGI enhancements aren’t glaring so much that they stand out. The action scenes have their moments. Some of them are flashy spectacles while others keep it simple and don’t act more than they are.
When watching this film, I noticed a couple of easter eggs. One is the red Bat-Phone that’s right out of the 1966 TV series. It beeps when it rings and when Bruce Wayne answers it as Batman, he says “Yes, Commissioner”. In the scene where Gordon is at a convenience store and is ultimately confronted by a Mutant Gang member, there a shelf holding various DC Comic books that came out around the time that the film takes place in (1986): “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, “V for Vendetta”, “Watchmen”, “Swamp Thing” (in particular showing Vol. 2, Issue #73 which actually has a publication date of June 1988, whoops), and “Sandman” (which actually came out in January 1989, whoops again).
Another easter egg I never knew about until I found this picture was that as Batman and Superman smash each other through an apartment building, one of the tenants has a Superman poster with Christopher Reeve in the iconic role. I should know, I have that exact poster.
Overall, this is a very good film. Having been based off a strong source material, it captures a hero’s climb back towards being a noteworthy figure wonderfully and it can properly introduce modern audiences to it. If you’ve seen loads of other Batman films then read the source material, you’d be able to pick out what scenes were used elsewhere. The dialogue is solid, the characters are enjoyable to watch, and the action scenes gradually build up towards an interesting twist. If you ever get the chance to watch it or if you’ve ever read the original source material, check it out in its individual parts or hunt down the deluxe edition and check out this adaptation of an influential tale of the Dark Knight.
Next Time: Shortly after seeing him have his ways of fighting crime get tested, we’re back to having the Man of Steel fight a member of his rogues gallery: A haunting figure from his former home world that isn’t afraid of taking other people’s towns with him. It’s a fight that he won’t face alone as we dive into “Superman: Unbound”.
Batman (created by by Bob Kane and Bill Finger) and Superman (created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster) are owned by DC Comics.