Robocop Peter Weller to voice Batman in new animated film

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Animated Movie

If you were to ask any random comic book fan for the most important or their favorite comic book, they would likely state Watchmen and/or Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Both have strong cinematic qualities to them and gained exposure in the media upon their initial release. The home of Superman has traditionally published family-friendly material, but in 1985 that policy shifted.

Frank Miller based his Batman in The Dark Knight Returns on the early Bob Kane gun-toting vigilante and filtered that through a modern lens, creating an anti-hero in the vein of Charles Bronson. This Batman was a grim and brutal man on a mission to wipe out crime, appearing to have more in common with Marvel’s the Punisher than the blue and grey crusader.

Over the years, the reputation of Dark Knight Returns has faltered somewhat. Chris Nolan’s trilogy has cherry-picked some of the ideas from Miller’s four part story along with the more timeless Denny O’Neil material, for instance. The adaptation of Miller and Mazzuchelli’s Year One was an excellent project but showed the madness and social paranoia in Miller’s writing voice. If anything, Dark Knight Returns is a colder and more disturbed view of Batman.

Actor Peter Weller

While I deeply enjoy Michael Ironside’s work in the Batman Animated Series short form adaptation of Dark Knight Returns, I am excited about Peter Weller voicing the aged Batman.

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Warner Bros. has set the voice cast for its upcoming animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s classic 1986 Batman tale The Dark Knight Returns, from Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Home Video.

Peter Weller (Robocop) will star as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Modern Family’s middle child Ariel Winter will play Robin.

Warners and DC are splitting up the adaptation of the dense four-part graphic novel into two animated features titled Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 and Part 2. The first movie, which will be released under the DC Comics Premiere Movie brand, will hit shelves in the fall. Part 2 will be released in early 2013.

Also in the cast are David Selby, the veteran actor who starred in the original Dark Shadows soap opera as well as the classic 1980s soap Falcon Crest; Wade Williams (Prison Break) as Harvey Dent/Two-Face; and Michael McKean as Dr. Wolper, the psychiatrist who releases the Joker from the insane asylum.

Jay Oliva, who storyboarded Zack Snyder’s upcoming Superman movie Man of Steel and who previously directed sequences of Warners and DC’s animated feature Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, is helming. Bob Goodman, a writer on Syfy’s Warehouse 13 and a veteran of many DC cartoons, penned the script.

One of the most influential comics of all time, the Dark Knight Returns is set in a near future where Batman is retired and Gotham City has slid into a dystopian state ruled by a gang of hooligans called The Mutants. The 55-year old Bruce Wayne is forced to don the cape once more, this time partnering with a female Robin to not only stop the Joker but keep the peace when the city falls into chaos after being hit by an electromagnetic pulse.

The four-book mini-series, along with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, also published that year, was praised for its mature and psychological take on superheroes. It set a violent and realistic tone in superhero comics and served as a big influence on Christopher Nolan’s Batman movie trilogy, the last of which opens July 20.

“Dark Knight Returns is the granddaddy of beloved comics properties that we’ve ever attempted (to adapt),” said Bruce Timm, the veteran animation guru who has exec produced all of DC’s animated movies. “There is definitely the imperative to get it right.”

On the voice front, Timm described Weller a having “the proper weight to his voice. He definitely brings all of the world-weariness of the character and inner core of optimist covered in a cynical shell.”

Winter says she prepared for the role by seeing other Batman movies and asking, “How can I maker her different from the other Robins, other than just being female? She’s really tough and she needs to have an edge in her voice so I tried a lower register for her.”

The movie will be the 15th in DC’s best-selling line of animated movies, many of which have translated storiesseen in the comic books. Miller’s other seminal Batman story, Batman: Year One, was made into animated feature in 2011. (The line was called DC Universe Animated Original Movies but will now be called DC Comics PremiereMovies.)

(Via Hollywood Reporter)

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