A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
As an exploration of the good and evil existing in everyone, as well as a debate on due process versus vigilantism, there isn't much in the way of a clear-cut positive message.
Positive Role Models
In this version of Batman, Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement to help not so much because he wants to, but because he feels he has no choice as Gotham City sinks further into crime and decadence.
Violence & Scariness
Graphic animated violence abounds. Extended fight scenes -- with punching, kicking, stabbing, and eye-gouging. Knife-wielding "mutant" gangs constantly talk of "slicing and dicing" citizens. In a flashback, a boy watches as his parents are murdered in an alley; there's a shot of the parents on their backs in the alley, dying and bloody. During a race, a car spins out of control and crashes. Batman shoots at The Mutants in a Batmobile that looks more like a massive tank.
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"Damn," "hell," "son of a bitch."
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Products & Purchases
Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne drink whiskey but don't act intoxicated. A teenage girl continually overhears adults in her apartment talking like extremely parodied examples of burnt-out old hippies who talk about tripping, getting high, and memory lapses.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 is extremely violent. Based on the 1986 Frank Miller graphic novel, this Batman is a reflection of a mid-'80s vigilantism mindset as exemplified by Dirty Harry, Rambo, and so many other "tough guy gets even" movies from that era. Even compared to recent Batman films, this one is more violent, even if it's animated. The story is dark, and the complexities of the characters and the violence make it inappropriate for younger viewers. But for teens and parents ready for a superhero story with ambiguity, this is one worth seeing. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
As an adaptation of Frank Miller's 1986 graphic novel, this is an excellent exploration of the ambiguities of Batman/Bruce Wayne. Iatman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 also examines the battles between good and evil that are fought not just in the good guy/bad guy sense of standard comic book fare, but within each individual. In some ways, with the steady media debate raging as a counterpoint to Batman's crime fighting, this could be seen as a satire of contemporary urban life.
The only quibble with this is that the contemporary urban life being satired feels like it's stuck in 1986, where the '80s action movie mentality reigns -- where tough guy Dirty Harry-types shoot first and ask questions later, rule of law and due process be damned. Nonetheless, the complexities of the characters themselves transcends some of these more dated elements, making this an enjoyable, if extremely violent, experience.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.