I’ve been enjoying animated superhero actions as much if not more than their live-action counterparts in recent years, so I was excited to see the trailer for The Dark Knight Returns, the animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s take on Bruce Wayne’s decision to come out of retirement as an older man:
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Mostly, I think I’m excited to see Carrie Kelley as Robin, a self-made superheroine in glasses and with moxie to burn. I want grown-up female superheroes, of course, the female counterparts to Tony Stark’s midlife crises and Thor’s struggles to become a god worth taking seriously. But just as Spider-Man has given us superheroism as a metaphor for teenage awkwardness, and the process of self-definition through gadgets, costumes, and fights with petty criminals, it’ll be fun to see a girl take up the mantle herself. It’s been a long time since Rogue and Kitty Pryde in the X-Men movies, and there, they were a bit subsumed by the drama of the adults around them.
I’ll also be curious as to how the depiction of Carrie plays into some of the debates we’ve been having about the politics of Christopher Nolan’s Batman, and Batman in general. In Miller’s comics—unsurprisingly—Carrie’s parents are neglectful stoner hippies, representative of the rot of the activist impulse, and Bruce Wayne becomes her surrogate father, training her for adulthood. I’m not sure the production will stick with that, if only because hippie-punching isn’t likely to resonate much with the network’s target demographic. But this could be an even more cynical Batman than we’ve seen in Nolan’s movies, given that line about Batman’s having crippled a young man. How that hardbitten approach plays out in his larger battle with the mutants will be a fascinating question.