Why The Dark Knight Returns Would Be Better For Snyder Than More Snyderverse Movies

  • Zack Snyder could theoretically return to DC to direct a live-action adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns despite bidding farewell to the DCEU's Snyderverse.
  • The Dark Knight Returns is a major influence on Snyder's work in the DCEU, but a new adaptation could go beyond what Snyder already included in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and it would finally give Ben Affleck his own solo Batman movie.
  • Although a new Batman movie directed by Zack Snyder would be successful, it would clash with Matt Reeves' The Batman and James Gunn's DCU Batman.
Zack Snyder's live-action adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns is the best chance for the director to helm a DC movie after the end of his Snyderverse franchise. The 10-year-long DCEU began with Man of Steel, which established a cinematic universe centered on Superman and the Justice League. Zack Snyder's original plans for the DCEU were composed of five feature films that followed these characters as they rose to fame, assembled a team, experienced an apocalypse, and fought to restore balance. Unfortunately, Snyder's vision for the DCEU couldn't be completed, but the director got the chance to depart the franchise with the resounding success of Zack Snyder's Justice League.
Now, Ben Affleck has given his final farewell as Batman in The Flash, and two new actors will be playing the character in the near future: Robert Pattinson in Matt Reeves' The Batman franchise, and a new Batman actor who's yet to be cast for the DCU's The Brave and the Bold. With these two parallel Batman portrayals potentially lasting for more than a decade, it's unlikely that a new live-action Batman will be introduced anytime soon. However, it's still possible for Zack Snyder to get another shot at writing and directing a Batman story some day, and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns seems like the ideal comic book storyline for that hypothetical project.
Why The Dark Knight Returns Is Snyder's Perfect DC Return Zack Snyder's work on the DCEU draws a lot from The Dark Knight Returns. In fact, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the closest a DC movie has gotten to a live-action The Dark Knight Returns adaptation. Just like in Frank Miller's 1986 graphic novel, Ben Affleck's DCEU Batman is a jaded version of the Dark Knight who puts more strength in his punches and holds a cynical view of the world. Likewise, Batman uses Kryptonite and a suit of armor to fight Superman, and the story ends with a death that's suggested to not last too long. Zack Snyder admires and understands The Dark Knight Returns, and he has expressed interest in adapting the comic book, even after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the end of the DCEU.
A one-to-one recreation of the graphic novel could seem repetitive due to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's plot, but there’s plenty of material from the comic book Batman v Superman didn’t cover. For instance, The Dark Knight Returns' dystopian future, Carrie Kelley a.k.a. Robin, the "Mutants" criminal gang, the Batman copycat vigilantes "Sons of the Batman", and other DC supporting characters like Green Arrow, the Joker, Two-Face, and Catwoman. If Zack Snyder ever tried his hand at a The Dark Knight Returns adaptation, he could include all these elements plus a deeper exploration of Batman's morality and legacy, the media's role in crime and justice, and the dangers of vigilantism.
Sadly, The Snyderverse Can't Coexist With The New DCU Close While a new Batman movie directed by Zack Snyder would likely be successful, three simultaneous Batmen on the big screen would be too much similar content for general audiences, and Snyder's involvement in a new DC movie would raise false hopes of a Snyderverse and DCEU revival despite their confirmed conclusion. Since the DCU is a direct reboot of the DCEU, the fewer connections to Zack Snyder's work that get included in the new franchise, the easier it will be to make a smooth transition between cinematic universes. This is especially true for a key character like Batman, who needs a streamlined continuity in the DCU.


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