Around the time that the forthcoming The Dark Knight Rises went into pre-production, Warner Bros. and the newly rechristened DC Comics Premiere Movies (formerly DC Universe Animated Original Movies) announced that the next two direct-to-video animated features starring Batman would be based on two of the greatest stories of the Caped Crusader ever told. Late last year Batman: Year One made its debut and was greeted with warm praise from critics and fans who had been apprehensive about how the classic comic book miniseries would translate to animated movie form. The second of the two Batman animated projects is by far the most eagerly-anticipated of the DTV Bat-films, considering that it is an adaptation of what is routinely referred to as the greatest Batman tale of them all.
The Dark Knight Returns, the groundbreaking 1986 miniseries that took Batman in a bold and startling new direction and became one of the hallmarks of modern comic book storytelling, will provide the basis for the next animated Batman movie. The original series took place in the future where an aging Bruce Wayne, now 55 years old, emerges from retirement as Batman to rescue Gotham from the clutches of a rampaging street gang called the Mutants. Soon not only does he find himself battling crazed punks, but also the supposedly rehabilitated Harvey Dent, his oldest archenemy the Joker, and even his longtime ally Superman, now an agent for the U.S. government.