Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

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For the animated adaptation, see Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (film).

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is a Batman comic book miniseries written and drawn by Frank Miller and published by DC Comics from February to June 1986. It reintroduced Batman to the general public as the psychologically dark character of his original 1930s conception and helped to usher in an era of "grim and gritty" superheroes from the -1980s-1990s.

Batman[edit]

  • [his inner voice, the true Batman, taunting him] The time has come. You know it. In your mind. In your heart. In your soul. You tried to hold me back. But you can't, Bruce. You're weak. You're a shell. A rusty trap that cannot hold me.
  • You don't get it, boy. This isn't a mudhole... It's an operating table. And I'm the surgeon.
  • Tonight was invigorating. I finally understand. I was denying myself this. That was my problem. The voice in my head. Telling me I was weak. No, I'm not weak. I'm not a shell. Not a trap. I remember. I was patient. I tried to let it go. But I can't. Or more accurately, I won't. I never will. Because the simple truth is Bruce Wayne is gone. He's been dead for years. I died in the alleyway with my parents. And someone else emerged. Just as tonight. All those years I spent fighting against the evil and greedy, the criminal element, I should be damn near dead. In utter agony. Nothing but broken bones, aching muscles, internal bleeding. And if I were still a man in my sixties, I probably would be. But those unpleasant days are behind me. My wisdom never left, but my strength has returned. I remember who I am. The rain pouring down now is a baptism, representing my rebirth, issuing a new mission. Once again, I am vengeance. Once again, I am the night. Once again I....am...BATMAN!
  • Pull that trigger... and I'll be back for you.
  • There's just the sun, and the sky, and him, like he's the only reason it's all here. Then, he ruins everything by talking.
  • It's a .45 Caliber Bullet. Hollow point. It explodes in his chest. I feel the shock through his fingers. For the thousandth time... My father dies.
  • Clark, you idiot. You let them do it. I always knew you would. Maybe during breaks between police actions, one of your military friends told you what an electromagnetic pulse is. And maybe you listened, Clark. All you need to generate the pulse is the detonation of a few dozen nuclear warheads. That, or a special kind of nuke that both sides have been trying to develop... Yes, Clark. Both sides. The American name for it is Coldbringer. It is designed to cause maximum damage to the environment -- all the while sparing the industrial sites your friends regard so highly. Since my own atoms aren't bouncing around the stratosphere -- since Gotham City squats like a great black graveyard -- since Wayne Manor's emergency generator hasn't kicked in -- and Robin's watch has stopped -- I'll assume Russia has taken the lead in the arms race. I keep track of these things, Clark. One of us has to.
  • The dump. It's a breeding ground for insects and rodents. Some rodents fly.
  • This loud, clumsy, stupid thing-- This is the weapon of the enemy. We do not need it. We will not use it. Our weapons are quiet -- precise. In time, I will teach them to you. Tonight, you will rely on your fists-- and your brains. Tonight, we are the law. Tonight, I am the law. Let's ride.
  • It's way past time you learned what it means to be a man.
  • It wasn't easy to make. Took years and cost a fortune. Luckily, I had both.
  • We should have been changing the world... inspiring people to be better than what they are... we were heroes... now look at us...I've become a political liability...and you...you're their tool...you've become a joke... A gullible, ignorant instrument of a incompetent, manipulative system... You talk to me about letting the past go, and yet you yourself won't. Because the mighty Superman is just so perfect he thinks he knows what's best. If that were true, Clark...you'd be at my side, as we were before. We were friends once upon a time, but that ship sailed when you put your judgement in the corrupt. In the greedy. When you threw your lot in with the perpetuators of disorder and ill intent. And you had the gall to lecture me, trying to intimidate me, simply because they asked you to. They made you weak. Lois, Jimmy, Perry, your parents? They'd all be ashamed of what you are now. I didn't have to go easy on you...a different binding agent...a potent mix...no I wanted you to stay out of my way...I wanted you to remember, Clark...In all the years to come... in your most private moments... I want you to remember what it means to be human... I want you to remember my hand at your throat... I want you to remember the one man who beat you.

Superman[edit]

  • Bruce, you idiot. You'll ruin everything. For all of us. I always knew you would... The rest of us learned to cope. The rest of us recognized the danger--of the endless envy of those not like us. The normal people. The weak. Diana went back to her people. Hal went to the stars. And I have walked the razor's edge for so long... But you, Bruce--you, with your wild obsession. You never learned to let it all go. They'll kill us if they can, Bruce. Every year they grow smaller. Every year they hate us more. We must not remind them that giants walk the earth. You were the one they used against us, Bruce. The one who played it rough. When the noise started from the parents' groups and the subcommittee called us in for questioning... You were the one who laughed that scary laugh of yours... "Sure, we're criminals," you said. "We've always been criminals. We have to be criminals." We almost threw a party when you retired. By then, the PBI was in it and things were getting out of hand. And then there was that trouble with Oliver. Do you remember why you retired, Bruce? No -- Just look at you -- You'd do it again -- And like a murderer, you'd cover it up again. Nothing matters to you except your holy war. They were considering their options and you were probably still laughing when we came to terms. I gave them my obedience and my invisibility. They gave me a license and let us live. No, I don't like it. But I get to save lives -- and the media stays quiet. But now the storm is growing again -- They'll hunt us down -- Because of you.
  • Twenty million die by nuclear fire if I am weak.
  • "Harmlessly.." The woman... on television... She said the bomb would detonateharmlessly... You cannot touch my planet without destroying something precious. Even her deserts are abundant.
  • Our people, Bruce. You laugh at them. They can do this... And you laugh...
  • You have every reason to be outraged, Mother Earth. You have given them everything. They are tiny and stupid and vicious but please, listen to them.
  • I have always loved you. Though I was born a galaxy away, I have always served you. The same power, the sun's power, fuels us both. You hold it here, you store it... I beg you. For a suffering world, release it...
  • You are... So generous... You give me... Your beautiful jungle. I swear... your adopted son will honor you.
  • Bruce, why can't you understand? This is idiotic. This whole thing is a waste of time! This is exactly what I didn't want to do. This is why they're afraid of us! This is why we are where we are now.

The Joker[edit]

  • Batman. Darling.
  • I should sleep. I'll be fresh tomorrow. Because tomorrow I go free, and then it's time for my final show.
  • They could put me in a helicopter and fly me up into the air and line up the bodies head to toe on the ground in delightful geometric patterns like an endless June Taylor dance routine — Even then, Bats, it wouldn't be enough. It never will be. Not until we finish it. Not until you break or I do. It's finally come. The moment we've both dreamed about.
[He slashes at Batman's abs, making a deep slice, causing him to keel over into the water. Joker's immediately on top of him, kept from driving the knife in his eye by Batman's arms desperately blocking it]
Oh come on, don't tell me you're gonna fall asleep at the moment of truth. My my, Bruce, you have gotten old, haven't you?
  • No, I don't keep count. But you do. And I love you for it.
  • You're in trouble now. Go ahead, Batman. Say you've never wanted this to happen. Say you wish there'd been another way. We both know it'd be bullshit though, right? No, you've dreamt of this moment. Been waiting for the right time, the right excuse. The perfect opportunity. The best part about it is, I still won. Because I finally made you lose control. Made you break your one rule. And now, the civilized people you've struggled to protect? They're going to hunt you for this. Hunt you like a dog. They're gonna kill you, Brucie. And when they have, I'll be waiting with open arms....out the gates of Gotham and plunging into the gates of Hell!
[cackles loudly as he twisted his neck further, completely snapping his neck and killing himself, his mouth hanging open in a macabre rictus grin, seemingly mocking Batman in death]

Others[edit]

  • Commissioner Gordon: All I have to do is think about Sarah. It makes the rest of it easy. She's made it worth it. Her and our girl. Barbara.
  • Robin: It only happened once. Just once in the whole night that it showed. He'd given the orders and all the Mutants and the Sons and everybody is gone for a minute. And during it, I caught it. He just sagged in his saddle like an old man. I could see it for just that one moment. The weight of it all on him. The fatigue. Maybe even a smidge of doubt? Hell, fear? Then he straightened up and grinned at me, like it was a joke. He can't die...or he just won't. I don't think he ever learned how to. But why would he? A man like him? So sure and passionate about what he does? He'll live forever. That I know for sure.
  • Commissioner Yindel: No. No. He's too big. God, he's SO big.
  • Alfred (final thoughts, just before dying of a stroke after destroying Wayne Manor) Of course. How utterly proper.

Dialogue[edit]

Mutant Leader: You got any kids, officer?
Officer: Shut up.
Mutant Leader: Just asking, officer. I love kids.

Batman: Boosters. Boosters. What...
Robin: Peel.

Superman: Bruce -- we have to talk.
Batman: I'm busy tonight. You've just cost me hours. Tomorrow morning. My place. Stay out of my way until then.

Clark Kent: You're not a young man anymore, Bruce. Maybe if you'd learned to slow down... Find your niche... But times have changed, and you-- Well, it's just not healthy. You'll burn yourself up.
[Bruce offers him a smug smile.]
Clark Kent: I know, I know, you look better than you have in years, but... You're going to make me come right out and say it, aren't you?
Bruce Wayne: Nobody can make you do anything you don't want to, Clark.
Clark Kent: These aren't the old days, Bruce. The world's got no room for... It's like this Bruce -- Sooner or later, somebody's going to order me to bring you in. Someone with authority. When that happens...
Bruce Wayne: When that happens, Clark -- May the best man win.
Clark Kent: Now that's just-- Hold on a second--
[Clark catches a speech from the President.]
Clark Kent: I have to go. We'll talk later.
Bruce Wayne: No hurry.

Alfred Pennyworth: Your accountants wait in the West Wing, sir.
Bruce Wayne: Tell them I'm sick.
Alfred Pennyworth: Shan't have to lie. hat refugee charity called...
Bruce Wayne: Write them a check.
Alfred Pennyworth: And the Committee For the Prevention of Obsessive Behavior in Middle-Aged Men?
Bruce Wayne: Write them a check.
Alfred Pennyworth: Very good, sir. Your sense of humor is as keen as ever, sir.

Bruce Wayne: Her last class is about to end. Go get Robin, Alfred.
Alfred Pennyworth: And should Miss Kelly have better things to do with her evening?
Bruce Wayne: There's nothing better.

Kid: You're the Joker, right? Well, Batman's gonna kick your ass, like always!
Joker: That right? Well, here's a secret for you, brat. He's gonna go through you first!
Batman: No, I won't. I never would. Now put the boy down, Joker.

Batman: You want to know my problem? Why I have to do this. Because of you. You sold us out, Clark. You gave them power they didn't deserve, power they weren't ready for. Our power. The power we used to protect them. And this is what they did with it. Ran this city and her people into the ground. And you left the rest of us to run and hide, wilting away in the dark, no place for us in the brave new world. Just like your parents taught you. My parents taught me a different lesson... lying on this street... shaking in deep shock... dying for no reason at all. They showed me that the world only makes sense when you force it to.
Superman: [slams his hand into Batman's chest, putting a deep hand-shaped dent in the armor as Batman goes flying] Then I suppose that means if you're going to stand down, I'm going to have to force you. Those were three ribs, Bruce. Stop being stubborn. Believe me, I don't want to do this.
Batman: [grunting in pain as he picks himself up] Too bad. Because I do.

Alfred: ...I shall come right out with it. Have you forgotten what happened to Master Todd?
Batman: I will never forget Jason. He was a good soldier. He honored me. But the war goes on.

Thug: No! Stay back--I got RIGHTS-- [Batman seizes him and slams him through a window, with him falling onto the fire escape, cuts all over him and is bleeding profusely]
Batman: Yes, you've got rights. Sometimes at night I count them just to make myself crazy. And right now, you've got a huge shard of glass stuck in a major artery in your arm. Right now, you're bleeding to death. And right now? I'm the only one around to get you to a hospital in time. So however long you take to tell me what I want to know? That's up to you. Right now, would be preferable.

External Links[edit]