DC Comics and Warner Premiere have released the first images as well as the primary vocal cast members for the most ambitious animated feature that the sister companies have attempted, a two-film adaptation of Frank Miller’s 1986 Batman classic The Dark Knight Returns.  The Dark Knight Returns Part 1, which will be the 15th film produced by DC and Warner Animation, will be released direct-to-DVD in the fall of 2012 with The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 due out in early 2013.
The two-part adaptation will give director Jay Oliva (who did the storyboards for Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel) and writer Bob Goodman (Warehouse 13) the opportunity to produce films that include almost every aspect of Miller’s 4-part saga of a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne donning the cowl once again as Gotham City slips into anarchy in the wake of a disaster caused when the city is hit by an electromagnetic pulse.  The Dark Knight Returns was uncompromising in its portrayal of an aging and fraying superhero, who partners with a female Robin to take down a vicious criminal organization in a bloody conflict that Miller presented with unprecedented amount violence and mayhem.
Bruce Timm, the veteran animator who is overseeing the production, described actor Peter Weller (Robocop) who plays Batman to The Hollywood Reporter as having "the proper weight to his voice.  He definitely brings all of the world weariness of the character."  Ariel Winter (Modern Family) will provide the voice for Robin, while Wade Williams (Prison Break) will do the same for Harvey Dent, and Michael McKean (Spinal Tap) will portray Dr. Wolper, the psychiatrist who releases The Joker from Arkham Asylum.
Since Miller’s The Dark Knight Return (along with its contemporary Watchmen) changed the dynamics of superhero comics in some very interesting ways that have made both of the mid-1980s classics perennial bestsellers, this is without a doubt the most difficult and tricky project yet attempted by DC and Warner Animation.  The images of the characters, which appear to be quite close to Miller’s original designs, look right for the most part, let’s just hope that the powers that be at Warner Bros. allocate enough animation resources to enable these characters to move fluidly on the screen, and that they can avoid the animation “shortcuts” that make so many Saturday morning animated series appear so stilted.