In the realm of comic books and graphic novels, seldom have we seen artists as influential as Frank Miller. Thematic elements and imagery from his graphic novels have been present in modern films, such as “300,” the recent Netflix phenomenon “Daredevil,” and especially the upcoming superhero epic, “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.” That last one, in particular, draws considerable inspiration from Miller’s seminal classic, “The Dark Knight Returns.”

 

Perhaps, this renewed interest in the source material is why Miller recently announced that “The Dark Knight Returns” graphic novel will soon receive a brand new sequel of its own. While there is obvious cause for longtime Batman fans to rejoice, we must also acknowledge that Frank Miller has a responsibility to take proper care of his material.

 

Upon its release in 1986, “The Dark Knight Returns” depicts a dystopian future where the Justice League has been disbanded, leaving only Superman to fight battles on behalf of the American government. An aging and world-weary Bruce Wayne has suppressed the inner demon that is Batman for 10 years, until one night he can no longer keep it in and dons the cowl once more.

 

Melancholy and graphic for it’s time, the book has since become immortalized for it’s iconic depiction of a grizzled Batman, his final encounter with The Joker in a carnival tunnel of love, and the climactic battle with Superman.

 

The climactic battle between Batman and Superman will no doubt find adaptation in some form for their upcoming movie (collider.com)

The climactic battle between Batman and Superman will no doubt find adaptation in some form for their upcoming movie (collider.com)

“The Dark Knight Returns” actually already has a sequel, the lesser talked about “The Dark Knight Strikes Again,” which released back in 2002. Despite 16 years of anticipation, the book did not perform particularly well with critics; one reviewer described it as “rushed and garish.”

 

A two-part adaptation of the original book released in 2012 and 2013. It received critical praise for its faithful and meticulous adaptation of the source material.

 

 

If nothing else, this proves that artists cannot rest on their laurels. Sequels and adaptations require immense thought and must maintain a sense of relevance, as well as continuity, with the original. The upcoming “Batman V Superman” likely acted as a major impetus for the continuation of “The Dark Knight” saga. However, if Miller opts for a cheap cash in rather than true service to the fans, the resulting product could upset many longtime readers.

 

Are you a fan of “The Dark Knight Returns”? Do you think any of its thematic elements hold up today? Comment below or tweet @connerws to keep this conversation going!