If Stanley Kubrick Did The Dark Knight Returns
Growing up, I had a couple of really great loves in entertainment. One was comic books and another would be the cinema of Stanley Kubrick. Of comic books, I considered one of the greatest and most influential to be Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. I could go on and on about Kubrick’s movies. My ultimate geek fantasy growing up was that Kubrick would some how direct a Batman movie, specifically an adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns. Of course, Stanley is no longer with us. That leads me to the question of populating a Dark Knight Returns movie mostly with actors who worked with Kubrick. The notable exception would be the Robin done by a teenage Carrie Kelly. Although, a living Kubrick would probably have a good time discovering a young Lolita-esque ingenue to play her. What follows are just purely my suggestions.
Freakish as it may seem to fans of 1989’s Batman, Jack Nicholson would not b occupying his familiar role as the Joker in this version of The Dark Knight Returns. Rather, this time the aging Jack would play the aging, challenged, and haunted Bruce Wayne. Done correctly, Nicholson’s Wayne would be a tour de force and the coda on a magnificient career. Literally, Bruce Wayne and Nicholson have grown into each other at this point of both their careers.
Before you dimiss the notion completely of Tom Cruise playing Superman, remember that Cruise did his best work when paired with Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. Nicholson’s Batman still can’t handle the truth. As a matter of fact, Rob Reiner might be an excellent director to pull of this particular version of Batman. Even if you can’t stand Tom Cruise, that may actually improve his ability to perform a “Big Blue Boy Scout” who does not quite get it either.
Vincent D’Onofrio would make a brillaint Harvey Dent under any circumstances, however the Dark Knight Returns Two-Face who is fully healed and fully evil would be just the sort of showcase to highlight what a great actor D’Onofrio is. D’Onofrio would also provide a beefier Dent with the physicality to match Wayne. That was a dimension severely lacking in the 2008 movie The Dark Knight.
Admittedly, the original thought came because Matthew Modine’s character was nicknamed Joker in Full Metal Jacket. However, the middle aged Joker is better served in the Dark Knight Returns story line by Modine than much anyone else. Not only is Modine a wonderful actor, he is also a great physical match for the role.
One of the truly great parts of The Dark Knight Returns is Jim Gordon’s speech about Franklin Roosevelt and Pearl Harbor. This would require an actor with not only a distinctive voice but also a sense of veritas. Assuming that the movie was properly set in the 1980s, Malcolm McDowell is the proper age and has the distinctive voice to provide a dramatic reading of the speech in a way that no other actor doing it would ever consider to be justice. The hardened look in the eyes as well perfectly matches Gordon.
Those are my suggestions. Of course, half the fun is filling in the others. Remember, they have to have worked on a Kubrick production with the exception of the Carrie Kelly Robin or a few of the younger characters.