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‘Dark Knight’ Strikes Again

29 Jan, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

(L-R): Kevin Smith and Peter Weller at the Jan. 28 Batman premiere.

Kevin Smith, Cast and Crew Talk ‘Batman: The Dark Knight Returns’

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Filmmaker Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma) was so stressed over how Batman: The Dark Knight Returns would turn out, he was ready to hunt down the creators if they messed it up.

“This film is religion of sorts,” Smith said Jan. 28, hosting a panel for the second part of Warner Home Video’s animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s 1986 graphic novel. “The source material is the Catcher in the Rye of comic books.”

Now that the second film is out, available Jan. 29 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video, his conclusion?

“This is the best Batman movie you will see in your lifetime,” he said. “I wept. I’ve watched it a dozen times.”

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns — Part 2 sees a retired Batman put on the gear one last time to take on crime in Gotham, the Joker … and Superman.

“Everything, soup to nuts, they got it right,” Smith said, speaking during a panel to discuss the films at The Paley Center for Media.

Executive producer Bruce Timm (Superman: Doomsday) said that ever since Warner and DC Comics began these direct-to-video animations, there was always “a stumbling block or legal hassle” getting The Dark Knight Returns on the screen. Once Timm and his team got the go-ahead, Jay Oliva (“Young Justice”) was chosen as the director.

“I drove home and there was really bad traffic on the 101, and I didn’t care,” Oliva said about the day he got the news. He said he was determined to both stay true to what Miller had in mind while still making it his own.

“It was going to be different from what Frank had,” he said. “This movie was about what I loved as a kid and what I saw.”

Screenwriter Bob Goodman (“The Batman,” “Warehouse 13”) was of the same mindset: Be true to the origins, but make it for today’s audiences.

“Rule No. 1 is honor the intent, but I was given free range to change I wanted,” he said.

Andrea Romano, the dialogue director for the film, said it was important to get who she wanted for the bigger parts: Peter Weller (RoboCop, “Dexter”) to voice Batman, and Ariel Winter (“Modern Family”) to voice Robin.

“There’s something human and fragile and vulnerable about the way [Miller] writes,” Weller said. “This is Batman coming out of his cave. Nobody’s done it like this before.”

Winter said that seeing it for the first time, she forgot she was even in it.

“It’s done that well,” she said.

Blu-ray bonuses include trailers and a preview of the next DC Animated Universe film, Superman: Unbound; a motion comic; a storyboard commentary by director Oliva; and featurettes on the Joker and Superman vs. Batman.

About the Author: Chris Tribbey

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