This is all just a draft under construction. Since I never get around to finishing it, might as well publish it and call it a day in its unfinished state.
Batman: the Dark Knight Returns: Part 1
35:06 — You can identify the comics to the right of the screen. From top left, those are Swamp Thing #73, The Sandman #1, Crisis on Infinite Earths #1, and Watchmen #1. All of these are DC Comics classics of major influence and importance. Swamp Thing and The Sandman were the beginnings of DC’s adult-themed Vertigo imprint; previous Swamp Thing issues, plus Watchmen, were penned by British writer extraordinaire Alan Moore. Watchmen and the original The Dark Knight Returns comic are acknowledged as the seminal works that started the trend of grim-and-gritty comics of the mid-to-late eighties and early nineties.
35:15 — The Swamp Thing cover is shown in mirror image (you can tell by the reversed number 73). Also, there is the cover for the V for Vendetta collection; that makes three references to Alan Moore’s work, which makes sense given Moore’s influence in the line of comics where The Dark Knight Returns fits so well. This is probably the director’s homage to those who have dearly influenced him.
Batman: the Dark Knight Returns: Part 2
3:02 — The guard is holding an M16, replacing the comic’s generic weapon.
4:54 — The submachine-gun is an MP40 (as confirmed in the animation’s storyboard), which was a model used by the Wehrmacht in WWII, in keeping with Bruno’s Nazi motif.
7:09 — As in the store where Gordon shot a Mutant in the previous film, here the newsstand has some DC Comics covers worthy of note. There is the classic The Flash #123 of 1961, one of the most important DC stories of all time, featuring the first-ever reference to the DC multiverse. There is The Brave and the Bold #28 of 1960, the first-ever story with the Justice League (you can even read the titles as in the original, referencing Starro the Conqueror). There is Shade: the Changing Man #6, of May 1978. There is ‘Mazing Man #1 of 1986. It should be noted that Frank Miller was fond of ‘Mazing Man, which led him to contribute to its last issue (#12) drawing his Batman and Robin from The Dark Knight Returns on the cover. There also are Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! #12 and The Warlord #67 of 1983.
8:31 — Now why would a blind man turn to LOOK at the stationary train?
17:01 and 20:28 — The police helicopters are Bell 412, which can be seen from their four-bladed rotors and ski undercarriages.
19:55 — The side commentator is called Frank in this film, but he was called Paul in the original comic, after the band leader in David Letterman’s show, Paul Shaffer. One wonders why the name change. Maybe to avoid a lawsuit for using Shaffer’s likeness? Also, in the comic, “David” never had a surname, and bore a clear resemblance to Letterman, whereas the animation calls him “Endochrine”, I wonder for what reason.
21:24 — To Endochrine’s question of how many victims, the Joker’s reply in the comic is “I don’t keep count” (in the present tense, which made it even the more terrifying). This reply was omitted here and left for later, which we shall see. Overall the interview was shortened and heavily adapted in the animation, notably with the absence of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who appeared in the comic as she had in Letterman’s show in the early eighties.
22:18 — Dr. Ruth’s absence leads to the need for a different start to Joker’s killing this night. Particularly vicious was Dr. Wolper’s slaying as compared to the gassing in the comic. By the way, in this animation Dr. Wolper’s moustache does not resemble Hitler’s as it does in the comic.
24:59 to 25:51 — In the comic, the Soviet airplanes are generic fighters. In the film, they clearly are MiG-29K.
35:02 to 35:13 — Humpty dies differently, and more gruesomely, than he does in the comic (where he was named “Abner”). Furthermore, the animation’s Robin does not react in nearly as impressed a fashion as the comic’s Robin does.
36:42 — “I never kept count.” — And this is where the sentence ended up in the animation.
49:15 — In the comic, the falling airplane hits a building. In the animation, it directly hits a street. Of course, the comic was released before September 11, 2001, whereas the animation was made after that tragic date. It can be safely assumed that the animators did not want to stir up memories of the event. Maybe they even intended to avoid any accusations of an intentional similarity from those who have not read the comics.
59:51 — The helicopters are MH-53.
1:02:10 — Ever the gentleman.
1:03:01 — The vehicles are Humvees.
1:03:59 — One wonders who the draughtsman is supposed to be. The poster on the wall depicts Christopher Reeve as Superman in 1978. To the right, a carefully stored and filed collection of comics. Finally, the nerds stays to see the epic fight instead of running away like everyone else — which is, I suppose, the exact reaction any fanboy would have upon seeing Superman and Batman dishing it out.
1:05:12 — In the background, one can see the theatre where young Bruce Wayne had watched The Mask of Zorro on the night when the Batman was born, now a derelict with a board saying “for lease”.
1:05:57 — Six blades, two engines: an Air Force MH-53 and certainly not a Navy CH- or MH-53E.
“The Man Who Killed Batman”
16:48 — The Ace Chem-Plant is certainly a reference to the Joker’s origin story.
Batman: the Brave & the Bold “Battle of the Super-Heroes”
This series is a delightful nostalgia trip to the silly Silver Age, albeit using a mix of characters from later in the DCU timeline. Even the cartoonish look, with monochromatic fillings between strong lines, is a throwback to animations from that time.
0:25 — King Tut is a character created in the Batman TV series of the 60s.
2:44 — Among others, one can see the names of the following DC characters: Aquaman, the Atom, Blue Beetle, Bronze Tiger, Bwana Beast, Deadman, Etrigan (“Demon”), Despero, Dr. Canus, Dr. Fate, Elongated Man, Felix Faust, Fire, Gentleman Ghost, Grodd, Guy Gardner, Jonah Hex, Kamandi, Kanjar Ro, Metamorpho, Plastic Man, Red Tornado, and Sinestro.
3:30 — Jimmy’s hoax is certainly one of the Silver Age’s covers. Any suggestions?
4:42 — Blüdhaven is a reference to its protector, Nightwing; Star City to Green Arrow.
4:55 — Hall of Meteors — Kryptonite is sure to be involved.
5:02 — Luthor can be seen with his green kryptonite ring.
5:17 — Green and purple are the thematic colours for Lex Luthor and his armours since the mid-80s.
6:09 — Lois is dressed as she would be in the 60s (and with gloves too!).
6:33 — “A Hero for All Times”.
6:42 — Metallo.
6:47 — Batgyro as in the Silver Age.
7:04 — Kandor and evil Jimmy.
7:38 — Expanded Jimmy.
7:54 to 8:04 — Six-armed Jimmy, Jimmy marrying a gorilla, Hindu Jimmy, werewolf Jimmy, Bizarro Jimmy, superbrained Jimmy, thornplant Jimmy — all as in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen.
8:31 — This is the stolen jewel. Mr. Mxyzptlk and the Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite.
8:41 — Picnic — children throwing stones.
8:47 — Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen.
8:56 — Turtle Jimmy: another Silver Age classic from Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen.
12:07 — Superman a “real dick”. One wonders if this is a reference to the Superdickery website.
12:46 — [capa com robe — verificar]
13:08 — A picnic with Lana.
14:02 — In the background, the robot thief and the Phantom Zone ring (Superman: the Movie).
15:06 — Mayor Swan is an obvious reference to classic Silver Age Superman penciller Curt Swan.
15:32 — King Superman — another classic Silver Age cover.
16:44 — “Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!” — the catchphrase that presented Superman in the 1940s.
18:45 to 18:47: three classic stills from the fight between these two giants in Batman: the Dark Knight Returns #4, as are the bomb on the chest and the missile.
21:46 — World’s Finest: the DC regular title that paired Superman and Batman from the 40s to the 80s.