Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 is the second in a two-part direct-to-video animated adaptation of the 1986 story of the same name that was written by Frank Miller, preceded by Part 1. The film was produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, and Warner Home Video. The PG-13 rated film was released January 29, 2013 on both Blu-ray and DVD.
Feigning regret for his past, Joker convinces Wolper to take him on a talk show to tell his story; he makes plans for his escape with an old henchman, who supplies him with mind-controlling lipstick. Meanwhile, Superman, who works as a government operative in exchange for being allowed to covertly help people, is asked by the President to end Batman's vigilante activities. Framing these events is a growing hostility between the USA and the Soviet Union over possession of the island of Corto Maltese. As Batman's continued presence humiliates the national authorities, Yindel becomes commissioner and orders Batman's arrest, and Superman warns Batman that the government will not tolerate him much longer.
Joker makes his talk show appearance as Batman fights with the GCPD on the studio roof; while they fight, Joker kills Wolper, gasses everyone in the studio to death and escapes. He finds Selina Kyle and uses one of her escorts and his lipstick to take control of a congressional representative, who calls for a nuclear strike on the Soviets before falling to his death. Batman's investigation leads him to Kyle, whom he finds bound and dressed like Wonder Woman. Kelley notices cotton candy on the floor, and Batman deduces that Joker is at the fairgrounds. There Kelley accidentally kills Joker's henchman while Batman pursues the Joker, who indiscriminately guns down dozens of people. As Batman corners a wounded and partially blinded Joker, he admits to feeling responsible for every murder Joker has committed and intends to stop him permanently. In the ensuing fight, Joker stabs Batman repeatedly, and Batman breaks Joker's neck in front of witnesses.
Joker then taunts Batman about the event, and then tries to goad the Dark Knight into finishing him off. However, Batman ultimately doesn't do so, to Joker's slight disappointment. Nonetheless, content that he made Batman lose control and that he will be branded a murderer, the Joker finishes himself off by twisting his neck, killing himself, ultimately bringing an end of their conflict. The GCPD arrive and Batman, bleeding profusely, fights his way to Kelley and escapes. After Superman deflects a Soviet nuclear missile, he is hit with the blast and badly injured; the detonation creates an electromagnetic pulse that wipes out all electrical equipment in the United States and causes a nuclear winter. As the city descends into chaos, Batman, Kelley and Gordon rally the Sons of Batman and the citizens of Gotham to restore order, and Yindel accepts that Batman has become too powerful to take down. While the rest of the powerless U.S. is overrun with crime, Gotham becomes the safest city in America, embarrassing the President's administration and prompting them to send Superman to finally stop Batman. Batman and Superman agree to meet in Crime Alley.
Wearing a powerful exoframe and supported by Kelley and former Green Arrow Oliver Queen, Batman fights Superman, using various tactics to make the fight even. When Superman gains the advantage, Queen hits him with an arrow made with synthetic Kryptonite, severely weakening him. Batman defeats Superman, and claims that he intentionally made the Kryptonite weak, to defeat Superman without killing him. Batman then apparently dies of a heart attack, while Wayne Manor self-destructs, and Alfred dies of a stroke. In the aftermath, the world learns that Wayne was Batman; all of his secrets are destroyed with the manor and his finances disappear. As Superman leaves Wayne's funeral, he gives Kelley a knowing wink after hearing a faint heartbeat coming from Wayne's coffin. In underground caves, Wayne is revealed to have faked his death and makes preparations to continue his mission more discreetly, allied with Kelley, Queen, and his followers. Bruce states that he has waited years for a good death and that this will be "good enough."
- Peter Weller as Batman
- Ariel Winter as Carrie Kelly
- Michael McKean as Bartholomew Wolper
- David Selby as James Gordon
- Mark Valley as Superman
- Michael Emerson as The Joker
- Maria Canals Barrera as Commissioner Ellen Yindel
- Michael Jackson as Alfred Pennyworth
- Conan O'Brien as David Endocrine
- Townshend Coleman as Abner
Differences between the comic and the film
- The boy scouts being killed by poisoned cotton candy is not shown onscreen, although it is still implied.
- In the comic, Dr. Wolper was murdered by one of Joker's robotic drones snapping his neck. In the film, Joker personally murdered Wolper by slitting his throat with a novelty mug from the show (referring to a similar action that the Joker did to one of Black Mask's henchmen in Batman: Under the Red Hood).
- During the David Endochrine Show segment, the comic depicted David Endochrine with a similar appearance to then-late night Talk Show Host David Letterman. In the film, he bore a closer resemblance to Conan O'Brien, who also acted as the voice actor for Endochrine.
- In addition, Joker's killing the sex therapist Dr. Ruth was cut, although Dr. Ruth herself was still mentioned.
- Bobby and Mary are silent in the film, while in the comic, they are given a lot of crass lines.
- The Joker's reaction to Batman flinging batarangs at Joker while the latter was holding Robin's friend hostage was toned down to simply shouting "Are you out of your mind?!" In the original comic, in addition to yelling the above line, he also mindlessly shot his gun at Batman's direction.
- Batman was able to successfully pull off an ambush on Joker in the house of mirrors attraction before narrowly being shot while dodging Joker's gunfire in the film. In the original comic, it is heavily implied that Batman's age-gained girth caused one of the mirrors to creak and move slightly, which Joker noticed and promptly shot him through the mirror before he could get a chance to execute his planned ambush.
- In the film, Abner's death was from Robin accidentally knocking him onto the gears, and then having his head chewed open by gears on the rollercoaster. In the comic, Abner ended up decapitated due to not minding his surroundings while attacking Robin.
- The Joker's shootout and subsequent final encounter with Batman at the Tunnel of Love was expanded.
- Various internal monologues from the comic, namely by Batman and Joker, were redone to act as explicit dialogue from various characters. Examples include:
- During the David Endochrine Show segment right before Joker debuts on-stage, where he noted there were so many people of different groups, yet they all had so few smiles, Joker in the film explicitly says "So many faces, so few smiles."
- During the final fight at the fairgrounds, Batman thought to himself that Joker was thinking of the old Batman when taking a hostage and that he was through playing games before throwing a batarang in the comics. In the film, Batman explicitly tells Joker after blinding one of his eyes with a batarang that he was through playing games.
- During the Love Tunnel scene, Joker in the original comic has an internal monologue about he doesn't remember how many people he's killed, though Batman does, and states it's the reason he's in love with him, while Batman likewise has a similar internal monologue where he personally considers himself a murderer of all of Joker's victims simply by letting Joker live, and even deeply considers his one rule a mistake as a result. The film turns both monologues into an exchange between Batman and Joker, where the former tells him of all the people Batman's murdered simply by letting Joker live, with Joker retorting callously that he never kept count before Batman reminds him that he has, with Joker replying he knew, before drawing out a knife and then telling Batman he loved him for it before rushing at him.
- On a related note, the homoerotic subtext within Joker's fixation to Batman were downplayed considerably in the film in comparison to the comic.
- The film makes explicit that Joker was still alive after Batman paralyzed him, and that Joker deliberately broke his own neck further to frame Batman. The original comic left it ambiguous as to whether Joker was still alive after the first neckbreak due to Joker's speech bubble being colored black like Batman's during that time instead of green like the other instances.
- Byron Brassball's unpleasant nature is toned down slightly compared to the comic. Specifically, in the scene where a blind man was shoved into a train tracks before being saved by Superman, the film had it be that Byron Brassballs had accidentally shoved him into the tracks. In the original comic, Byron did this action deliberately.
- Standard and high definition versions of the feature film
- Sneak Peek at Superman: Unbound
- Featurette – “The Joker: Laughing in the Face of Death”
- Documentary – “Superman vs. Batman: When Heroes Collide”
- Featurette – “From Sketch to Screen”
- Look Back – Sneak Peek at Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1
- Two bonus episodes from Batman: The Animated Series
- Digital Comic