the dark knight returns 300x206 Warner Bros. Making Batman Film The Dark Knight ReturnsIt was announced last night that Warner Brothers, the studio behind DC Comics’ latest installments in the Batman franchise (and the original Batman films as well), is creating an animated feature entitled The Dark Knight Returns.  Some of you may recognize that as the title of a Frank Miller-handled Batman storyline from way back in 1986.

It goes without saying that Frank Miller represents one of the greatest voices in comic book writing over the last thirty years.  He is the source of such mainstream hits as 300 and Sin City, just to name the most prominent.  To be honest, it is no surprise that the studio is jumping at the chance to create a film based on one of Miller’s Batman story arcs; what is surprising is that they are deciding to go animated.

It would make sense to me that, with Christopher Nolan at the helm of the franchise, the studio is trying to keep things streamlined by not going every which way with the Batman films (a fate which befell the original pre-Nolan Batman films), but it also seems like a wasted opportunity to take what is an interesting story arc and go animated.

The Dark Knight Returns is about a middle-aged Batman that comes out of retirement and therein, in my opinion, lies the reason for why the studio has chosen to go animated rather than wait until Nolan leaves the franchise as he plans to do and make the film then.  A middle-aged Batman does not fit into where the franchise is right now (with the franchise basically following Batman’s development after he first assumed the mantle of the superhero) and so they certainly figured that if they wanted to bring Miller’s story arc to fans they would have to go animated.  By making The Dark Knight Returns into an animated film, they are able to separate it from the primary progression of the feature films (much like a one-shot or graphic novel does in comic books).

That being said, I certainly will be first in line to see The Dark Knight Returns.  According to Collider, the film does not appear to have a writer yet and one can only assume that it will be a direct to DVD type deal.  More news as it becomes available.