Headscratchers: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

aka: The Dark Knight Returns
  • Why din't the soviets enjoy that their first nuke caused a nuclear winter to try and attack again? More so if they knew it had neutralized Superman.
    • That would have ensured retaliation (that nuke wouldn't have taken out the US entire nuclear arsenal). Add to that the very real risk that being at ground zero of a nuclear blast was only enough to temporarily neutralize Superman (as indeed turned out to be the case), and it is more than a little likely that more cautious elements in the Soviet leadership realized that this was not the time to escalate things further.
  • Does the Bats actually shoot the thug who takes Nigma's kid hostage? Or does he only shoot the wall next to his head? Because there is a bullet hole in the wall after that but none visible in the thug. Yet the current Doesn't Like Guns example write-up says he killed the thug (whatever happened to his no-killing rule). I am confused.
    • The panel certainly doesn't make it clear...I've always read as Batman non-fatally shooting him since he takes the baby from the Mutant without a struggle, although he certainly could've just shot by his head to scare him into giving up.
      • In the animated film, he shoots the thug in the hand only and it's enough to disable her.
    • There's a quite obvious blood splatter on the wall which seems to suggest he shot her somewhere in the chest. Chances are, she's dead, Jim.
      • When I first read the story, I'd assumed that Batsy had fired a bullet so close, so Green Arrow-precise to the Mutant's body, that he (or she, I forget) simply fainted in fear.
    • Word of God confirmed it as a nonfatal shoulder shot.
    • Nygma's kid? It was the son of the Ridley family.

  • I've always wondered why it is that Batman gets more and more deformed as the series goes on. In the first issue, in his blue-and-greys, he's practically Neal Adams' svelte acrobat. But by the time he's taking on the Mutant leader, he's a stubby pile of muscle. One could say that this is an artistic choice, but since all the other character designs are so consistent, it feels like there should be something to this.
    • There is. He wears down on the outside at the same pace, and in the same way, that he wears down on the inside.

  • Why, oh why does Bats (spoilers ahead) take the SOBs and former Mutants to become his army. These are the same people who bombed a poor waitress on the subway, kidnapped a toddler, used napalm to break up a Three Card Monty, cut off a clerk's fingers because he wouldn't defend himself, etc. I mean Rob and Don make it pretty clear that they were going to make a pass on the underage Carrie until she, in disguise, told them she was the Mutant Leader's. These are the people Batman trusts to take care of Gotham when he is gone?
    • As Bruce put it, the Mutant Leader was a strong presence and his gang worshiped him because of it and followed his example, Authority Equals Asskicking or something like that. Some of them formed their own gang in his image after he pulled a Bane on the guy at the mud hole. Now that Batman's taken them under his wing, he can mold them to fit his example.

  • Was that Humpty Dumpty helping out the Joker, I know he is supposed to be good with inventions.
    • Well, Humpty Dumpty debuted in the comics a few years after Dark Knight Returns. It was originally intended to be some crazy ass dude who liked inventing but when DC looked back at the issue and saw the similarities between Dumpty and the crazy dude, they said that was Dumpty.
      • Then they're ignoring their own story. His name is Abner (as Batman reveals when he and Robin check out his apartment). So unless they reveal Abner as Humpty Dumpty's real first name, I doubt this retcon can mesh.
      • It's a little confusing. Although he's identified as Abner in the voice credits for Part 2, storyboards identify him as "Humpty," and director Jay Oliva also refers to him as Humpty in the Blu-ray special features.

  • The whole first part of Part 2. Why was Batman disguised as an old woman? Why was there a topless muscle bound female Nazi? What connection did she have to the Joker?
    • Bruno seemed to be an old henchman of Joker's, and Batman was disguised to get the drop on her before interrogating her about Joker.
    • As said above, Batman was in disguise to get close to the baddies. As to why a topless Neo-Nazi woman... she's a crazy Neo-Nazi. End of story.
    • Bruno worked for The Joker. You can't expect someone with that past to not be insane (assuming he/she wasn't already crazy to beging with).

  • If Batman had Powered Armor the whole time, why didn't he bust it out for the Mutant Leader or Joker?
    • Ego.
    • Batman still has his "no kill" rule, regardless of who writes him. The powered armor would have been overkill and would have made it easy for Bruce to step over the line and kill the mutant leader or the Joker with a single punch. This is also why he uses rubber bullets in the Batmobile and doesn't just run over the mutants or their leader or the Joker.
    • Who said he had it "the whole time"? There's a three-month skip between Parts 1 and 2. Also, the armor's almost certainly power intensive, possibly prohibitively so for day-to-day use.

  • How is the Joker such a good shot with a batarang in his eye? Surely that would effect his depth perception?
    • Here's one for the animated version of that: how can he still use his arms? He didn't take any batarangs to the shoulders, but they had to have hit bones or muscles that supports the shoulders.
      • It's the Joker. He doesn't care about pain or worsening his wounds.
    • Sometimes it's easier to aim looking through one eye.

  • I find it hard to believe that one nuke could do...whatever it did, to Superman. This is a guy who's flown into the sun like it was a walk in the park, for crying out loud! If anything, the nuke should have tickled!
    • Superman is energised by the sun - that overcomes any damage it would have done from heat and radiation. The same is not true of nukes.
    • Technically Superman is energised by a certain kind of radiation: solar radiation in the yellow end of the spectrum or higher. The problem is that the radiation released by the nuke is no different from any form of radiation created by a high energy explosion - lots of visible light at varying ends of the spectrum and plenty of high energy gamma rays, x-rays and low energy microwaves and so forth. Unfortunately fiction writers tend to overlook the fact that all light and radiation has the same properties, no matter where it comes from.
    • Also keep in mind that this story was written with early post-crisis Superman, back then, he wasn't powerful to shrug off planetary destruction level events like he is now.

  • How is Batman's new Mutant army going to help him bring back order without guns? Sure, Batman can handle cops, army troops, thugs, etc because he's had years of training and experience under his belt, in addition to his impressive arsenal of weaponry. Batman, in the short time that he has left on the Earth does not have enough time to train all of the Mutants into the killing machine that he is. And if he doesn't want them to use guns, what does he expect them to use? Batarangs? With his cave destroyed, I doubt he could make more of them in such numbers. Even if he did, Batarangs only work if you have body armor and ninja training to back it up. Seems to me, the Bat-Mutants are going to get shot dead if they try to fight the Army or the cops. Also, two of the Mutants definitely made a pass on Carrie Kelely early on in the story and have been known to brutally rape and murder people. Why would Batman let Carrie anywhere near those thugs?
    • Defeat Means Friendship, apparently. (Plus, Carrie is capable of handling herself. Did you read her parents' dialogue? They hardly even remember they have a kid. She'd need to learn to look after herself.) They could use tasers or slingshots untill they get a good enough understanding of the Batarangs. Plus, Bruce could just tell him which methods he used to train so they could go learn themselves. Plus, he's Batman. (Or, was.)
    • Also, the cave wasn't destroyed; Batman monologues about how it goes for miles.
    • Batman's Mutant army was not meant to take on the army or the cops, it was meant to take on criminals and quell the riots. For the former, they did receive the necessary training later. For the latter... Do you think there's any Gothamite who would have the balls to say no to Batman, especially when he's backed by hundreds of guys who used to have the city begging them to be spared before the very guy they're now supporting defeated their leader?
  • So, ten years on from the time he retired, Batman is old and stiff at times and Catwoman of all people has gotten old and overweight... the Joker spends a decade as basically a vegetable, and is still just as physically dangerous as he was when he stopped?
    • Off-screen rehab? Or it's more like Batman's lack of training in the 10 year gap, beating from the Mutant Leader, and exhaustion fighting the cops earlier weakened him enough to make things fair.

  • It seems they couldn't quite decided how to draw the Mutant Leader at first. In the first panels showing him giving his speech, he has studs in his scalp like some of the other Mutants, a spiked collar, and lip piercings. But after this page, the studs and piercings are gone and so is his collar. After deciding on his final look (as first seen in his first fight with Batman), they honestly couldn't redraw two or three panels on one page?

Alternative Title(s):

The Dark Knight Returns
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