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Kevin Smith and The Dark Knight Returns - Opinion

Kevin Smith often points to the plot holes in Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises and repeatedly states that Warner Animation's The Dark Knight Returns is the best Batman film you'll ever see.

Whilst I don't disagree that Rises has plot holes (though the ones Kevin often highlights aren't really plot holes), it could be argued that Nolan is simply continuing a tradition of plot holes that starts in the film's source material.

Nolan's films are heavily inspired and informed by a number of comic series including Frank Miller's comic book series, The Dark Knight Returns. Rises in particular shares many of the same themes.

Warning: This blog post is not a review. It's an opinion piece so I can write my thoughts about specific scenes in the film. If  you haven't seen The Dark Knight Returns or haven't read the comic book series then stop now as from here on in there will be spoilers.

Kevin says of the comic book series that it opened his eyes to what Batman was really about after having only really known the Adam West version of character. I haven't read the comic version of Returns but Kevin talks about it like it's the bible of Batman stories.

In watching the animated version I'll agree with Kevin, it is a great story. It's filled with plenty of great ideas and, without this story, Nolan's Batman may well not have been as good as it is.

But, if you want to point out plot holes as a reason for Nolan's Rises to be 'just okay' here's my problems with Miller's story...

If you're a retired Batman heading back into the field and you have a suit that gives you the strength to take on Superman, why wouldn't you wear it to hand the Mutant leader his ass the first time you go up against him? Both times Batman goes up against the Mutant leader he sustains some pretty serious injuries. Even when he does defeat the leader he's pretty beat up.

Why not wear the suit when going up against your arch nemesis, The Joker. In this movie Joker's no slouch when it comes to hand to hand combat. Wear the suit. If it's good enough to go up against Superman then Joker would be little more than a rag doll.

If you have developed your own kryptonite to combat Superman, why not lead with that instead of wasting your time trying to defeat him in hand to hand combat in a super suit (that Superman could probably punch holes through or melt with that heat vision).

Wouldn't it have made more sense for Batman to construct kryptonite  knuckle dusters rather than a kryptonite arrow that someone else had to shoot? At the very least, the kryptonite should have been part of the suit - in case the kryptonite didn't work he'd still have the suit as back up.

Robin? I have no issues with a female Robin however, in this movie, Robin goes from a cos-play school girl to fantastic gymnast, Batman tech hacker and all round bad ass in record time. She's barely even affected by the carnage she sees around her as Robin. (Kevin bitches about how Bruce got back to Gotham so fast after escaping the prison in Rises? More easily explained than this girl's amazing transformation into Robin).

In this movie Batman's an old man and he's still grappling with the death of his parents. Every time this movie brought up his parents I was thinking 'Fuck, he's still not over that yet?' Real people experience similar tragic deaths and, whilst it'll always be part of their psyche, many find a certain level of peace that allows them to move on and be functional again. Someone with Bruce Wayne's intelligence would not take a life time to come to terms with what happened to his parents.

The Bat suit in Returns is clearly not body armor yet we're led to believe that Batman is fast enough to dodge bullets from multiple automatic weapons in several different stand offs against the police. Either that or the police have all the accuracy of Storm Troopers in every single Star Wars film.

In what world does the Mayor of a city get let into a room by himself with murderous mutant leader completely unsupervised? I hope there was an internal investigation into that stupidity.

The local Police are sufficiently useless and equally as incompetent in Returns as any you saw in all of Nolan's films. Just once can we have a police department in a Superhero film that wasn't trained by the Keystone Cops Academy.


Anyone who complains about Christian Bales Batman using a leg brace to fix his knee problem... it didn't go unnoticed by me that Miller's Batman constructs a similar arm brace so he can continue to be Batman. Neither is really a plot hole - I'm just saying, Bale's brace is probably a nod to Miller who used the idea first.


Whilst we're on the subject of cheesy plot devices used in The Dark Knight Rises... Nuclear bomb? Used in The Dark Knight Returns by Harvey Dent to hold the city to ransom.

Okay so not all that list is plot holes either but to say Dark Knight Returns is the best Batman movie you'll ever see is a little over the top when compared to Nolan's Trilogy. Both are great stories with plenty of interesting ideas and, I'll say again, Nolan's Trilogy probably would be very different without Miller's story to inform it.

Returns. Not the best Batman story ever though. I still like Nolan's take better and his Batman isn't really quite there as the Batman I'd like to see on screen.

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