When Batman v Superman was first teased and once it was finally released to the general public, one work within the DC catalogue was repeatedly referenced in having an influence in the look and feel of the movie, The Dark Knight Returns written and penciled by Frank Miller. The graphic novel helped to refine sequential art as a true literary format, returned Batman back to his dark and gritty roots, and made Frank Miller a legend within the comic book medium.
It is also famous for the climactic fight between the Dark Knight of Gotham and DC’s boy scout, Superman, the reverberations of that fight still influencing the latter’s image to this day.
A recent adaption of the limited series was released by DC, considered a very faithful adaptation of the source material. So much so that the film was originally split into two parts so as to include as much of the original story as possible. What many will enjoy from the story is that the confrontation between Superman and Batman has an organic progression. It isn’t forced to simply adhere a film’s timetable.
There is also the relationship between the two combatants, as the story takes place almost ten years after Batman last donned the cape and cowl. In their first and only real conversation in the series, it is heavily implied that Bruce’s retirement was more of a comprise with the government than it was his decision (aside from the influence Jason Todd’s death had on the decision.)
It is easy to see during the fight in the Dark Knight Returns that Superman does not want to fight Batman, several times during the scuffle Clark tried to talk Bruce down. Of course there is a mixture of naïveté and hubris in his statements, but it is apparent he is wanting to end the fight before either one is killed. There is a higher emotional investment in their relationship outside of BvS’s ‘they don’t trust each other’ arc.
And watching Clark try to tell Bruce about his heart starting to go into cardiac arrest is tragic. There is a greater emphasis on the relationship between these two figures and the consequences of their actions as the story unfolded. With the Dark Knight Returns being a major influence on BvS, this is definitely worth a look for those wanting to see what inspired the film and possibly surpass the recent major motion picture.