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What If Zack Snyder Had Made The Dark Knight Returns After Justice League

What if director Zack Snyder had made The Dark Knight Returns after Justice League? The classic DC Comics tale from Frank Miller, The Dark Knight Returns sees an older Batman coming out of retirement to bring justice to his city once more, albeit in a more brutal fashion as he faces more dangerous threats as well as former allies such as Superman. While this certainly sounds like it carries large elements of Ben Affleck's Batman, it should. Dark Knight Returns was a huge inspiration for Snyder's version of the Dark Knight in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League itself.

As a result, The Dark Knight Returns already lends itself quite well for a theoretical future installment from Snyder and Affleck. Having spent over 20 years operating as Gotham's Dark Knight, Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne already exists an older Batman in his career despite having never retired. That being said, the motivation for Wayne's retirement in the Frank Miller story (the death of Batman's partner Robin) is present, and there were several shots, scenes, and lines of dialogue that were directly inspired/taken from the comic, most notably Batman fighting Superman in an exosuit in Batman v Superman.

Related: Where Is Ben Affleck's Batman At The Beginning Of The Flash?

While it's doubtful that an actual DCEU Dark Knight Returns will ever be made by Snyder starring Affleck in the titular role, it would certainly be a wild and intense film with a perfect dark and gritty tone Snyder could easily adapt. Combined with all the pieces and homages that made it into the DC films Snyder did make, there are already some interesting foundations that he could have worked with as well. In any case, here's what a Zack Snyder Dark Knight Returns film could potentially look like.

Going beyond the collection of references to The Dark Knight Returns seen in Batman v Superman, Zack Snyder's completed and final cut of Justice League features a new scene near the end of the film, seeing Batman standing on top of a brand new Bat-Tank which very much resembles the Batmobile seen in the Frank Miller story. In The Dark Knight ReturnsBatman used his Bat-Tank and its veritable arsenal to aid in his crusade against the new violent gangs that arose in his absence known as The Mutants.

Not only that, but now that the Justice League has been formed, the next chapter of Batman's story could be focused on the toll his career has taken on a personal level. It also means that there are now heroes who can keep the entire world safe and not just Gotham, perhaps leading to the Dark Knight feeling comfortable enough to retire before making an inevitable return later down the line. This would also be presuming that the Justice League's dark future with Darkseid doesn't come to pass and is prevented, as was teased for the future Justice League 2 and Justice League 3 that Snyder had planned.

It's easy to imagine that Zack Snyder's version of The Dark Knight Returns would be fairly similar in terms of tone and its themes. The inherent dark and complex nature of Frank Miller's story matches extremely well with the themes Snyder introduced in Batman v Superman, and elements of Justice League as well.

Related: The Justice League Sequels Would Have Been Bad News For New DCEU Characters

Given the prior films' focus on Batman interacting and teaming up with other major heroes for the first time, it would be really interesting to see how Batman interacts with Gotham, especially one that is conflicted over whether or not they even want him such as in Dark Knight ReturnsFurthermore, it would also be interesting to see how Batman's brutality and new tactics are explored, such as his more aggressive nature and leading a sect of the Mutants calling themselves the Sons of Batman after he took down their leader, training them to fight crime using extreme (but non-lethal) methods. The film could also feature a dynamic rematch between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent from Batman v Superman, though this time the Man of Steel would be on the President's orders to take Bruce down.

As far as the perfect cast for Zack Snyder's Dark Knight Returns is concerned, arguably one of the most important casting choices would be for the new Robin Carrie Kelly. Impressed by her bravery in the Frank Miller story, Batman takes Carrie on as his new teen protégé, and one would imagine an actress with some recognizability would be filling that role. Someone like Millie Bobby Brown could be dynamic, but it would also be interesting if Zack Snyder brought in talent from one of his prior movies such as Ella Purnell, who played Kate Ward in Netflix's Army of the DeadLikewise, Dave Bautista would be absolutely perfect for the role of The Mutants' leader who fights Batman hand to hand, beating the Dark Knight nearly to death the first time and being strategically decimated in their rematch.

There would also be other newcomers to the DCEU such as Green Arrow, Two-Face, and Commissioner Gordon's successor Ellen Yindel. Charlie Hunnam has long been a fan favorite to one day take on the role of a DCEU Green Arrow, and being The Dark Knight Returns' one-armed version firing a kryptonite-tipped arrow at Superman would certainly be an intense role. Antony Starr (who plays Homelander on Amazon's The Boys) would naturally be the perfect Two-Face, especially considering that the Dark Knight Returns version has a fully restored face as Harvey Dent, with his fully corrupted mind later making him revert to being Two-Face. Lastly, it would be a fun casting to have Maria Canals-Barrera play Captain Yindel, seeing as how she voiced the character in the two-part animated adaptation. Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill could reprise their roles as Batman and Superman - as well as J.K Simmons for Gordon - and Jared Leto's Joker could similarly reappear for one final battle with the Dark Knight before the Clown Prince of Crime's death in the Frank Miller comic.

All in all, The Dark Knight Returns is the perfect story for Zack Snyder, and that's evident by how many references and homages to the comic are seen in his prior DC work. Additionally, one has to wonder if Zack Snyder would have done better with WB had he just made Dark Knight Returns outright, instead of a rushed introduction to Batman combined with a prequel to Justice League that resulted in his issues with the studio prior to the major team-up film.

Related: How Snyder's Second Choice Batman Would Have Changed The DCEU Dark Knight

While it's highly unlikely that Zack Snyder will do anything DC related for Waner Bros. in the future, it's nice to imagine a world a few years down the line where something like a live-action Dark Knight Returns becomes a real possibility, perhaps existing as an isolated story like Joker so as not to disrupt any current continuity the DCEU would be then engaged with. In any case, Zack Snyder would be the best choice to direct a potential Dark Knight Returns, regardless of how unlikely that outcome is realistically after the mishaps with Justice League.

More: The Snyder Cut Reshoots Added the Perfect Ending For Affleck's Batman

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