In just two short weeks the greatest cinematic Superhero event ever will take place, when the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel square up for a royal rumble that will shake the very foundations of the DC Universe. Comic’s two most iconic characters will go head to head in a grudge match that, even though this will be their first live action brawl, has been enacted throughout the decades in both comic book and animated forms.
Though, usually touted as friends and allies, no other comic book duo has fought as many times as Bats and Supes over the decades. They are literally opposite ends of the Superhero spectrum; one is a vengeance driven manhunter, bringing his own brand of justice to a corrupt and dystopian city. dark and brooding, driven on by the tragic deaths of his parents, Batman has given his life over to his mission.
The other is a virtual god, a being from another planet who arrived on Earth as a child after his home was catastrophically destroyed. Brought up in the farm belt of the USA, Kal El uses his almost limitless power to help his adopted kin, fundamentally a force of good and a symbol of hope amongst his many supporters. Batman and Superman literally are Night and Day, completely antithetical and divergent in both motivation and execution of their chosen lifestyles.
Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice director – Zack Snyder has drawn heavily from these past confrontations for his upcoming blockbuster movie, but the one story that has had the most influence on the film (and the character of Batman himself) is Frank Miller’s classic, genre defying eighties series ‘The Dark Knight Returns’
Dark Knight is Frank Miller‘s opus, and almost single handedly responsible for a dramatic and significant change in the way Superheroes are portrayed. Taking the well loved character and plunging him even deeper into his own psychosis and despair, allowing him to really embrace the darkness that was brought on by the devastating loss of his parents, and use it to deliver a whirlwind of brutal justice on the many corrupting forces that prey on Gothamites on a daily basis. Miller’s Batman is a schizophrenic and driven crime-fighter, an unequivocal force of nature that does not suffer fools gladly, and will allow absolutely nothing and no-one to stand in the way of his war on crime.
The Dark Knight Returns shows us a future Gotham City where crime runs rampant, and its one true protector who used to hold back the tide of criminality and lawlessness has long since retired as age and injuries slowly caught up with him. Bruce Wayne now holds back his raging inner demons through the use of alcohol and death defying stunts (when we first see the aged Bruce, he is crashing his race car over a finish line with suicidal abandon.) Unable to cope without his alter ego, and feeling powerless in the face of an encroaching enemy that is seeping into his beloved city and gradually altering its substructure into that of complete anarchy and transgression.
Superheroes have long since been outlawed, and the only one still active is the Government sponsored Superman, who covertly works for the President and keeps the peace with as little media exposure as possible. Brought back from his almost catatonic state, after the demons raging inside him can no longer be contained, Bruce Wayne gives himself over to the one true personality that has always been dominant in his life since that one fateful night… The Batman. Waging a war on crime like never before with unstinting and remorseless abandon, yet his age and a decade of inactivity might make this last heroic struggle, his final denouement.
With Batman rampaging his way through the underbelly of Gotham City and dividing opinion amongst the Police and citizens, Superman is despatched by the President to put a stop to his vigilante actions… and thus ensues the paradigmatic battle between the two titans, that is reflected heavily in the many trailers for the forthcoming movie.
Director Zack Snyder is a huge comic book fan, especially of the darker and more mature style of story-telling, just witness his previous movie incarnations – the utterly astounding recreation of Alan Moore’s ‘Watchmen’ (still our fave comic to film adaptation) and Frank Miller’s ‘300’. The influence of Miller’s Dark Knight is tangible, and there really could be no better material for him to draw upon for this colossal showdown.
Of course lest we forget, there will be one tempering influence in the film who has also acted as a mediator to the feuding heroes in comics and animation over the years. She is also the character who has soundly beaten both Bats and Supes in one on one combat on several occassions. So before either hero gets too overconfident and supercilious in their own powers and skills, they should really factor in that comic-book’s first lady, Wonder Woman can kick both their arses without even breaking a sweat… just saying!
The titanic twosome will be knocking heads when ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice’ hits the cinemas on March 25. Best prepare your utility belts and red capes in readiness for what will incontestably be the ‘Greatest Comic Book Movie Ever!’