The internet has become obsessed with one question surrounding Batman, and it’s something dedicated fans of the Dark Knight might be familiar with. On the cover of Frank Miller’s iconic The Dark Knight Returns, we see Batman jumping while shrouded in shadow. It’s an awesome image, but people can’t decide what way he’s facing.
The story itself, featuring an older Batman fighting the American government, is oft-referenced in the DCU. Several of the Batman movies contain visual nods, the most noticeable being in Batman V Superman: Dawn of the Justice, where Ben Affleck portrays a more mature Dark Knight. In fact, at one point director Zack Snyder literally uses the cover in question.
But now fans are deliberating something the DC movies can’t solve: is Batman facing towards or away from us? Seriously, when you look at the image, both sides are viable.
Now, I should preface this by saying I always thought he was looking away from the camera, and we were seeing his cape. But seeing the outline going the other way, I’m rethinking that.
Tweets from comics_jeff have been traveling as people deliberate which one is definitive. The discussion gets an added wrinkle when you consider that Miller’s draft had Batman facing the camera. My whole life is a lie I’ve been telling myself for decades.
I’m not a believer of authorial intent. Reader interpretation decides the meaning and understanding of any given piece of art. However, seeing Miller’s outline has now got me moving towards seeing Batman looking towards me rather than away. I think it fits the angle and anatomy of the shot more than how I used to see it.
That said, what’s really going to happen now whenever I come across The Dark Knight Returns is just this whole debate. Like any comics and superhero movie fan, I love a good discussion without any easy answer, and this just shot up in the list of questions I’ll have for any discerning DC Comics aficionado.
At least Miller’s image should help any upcoming DC movies if they choose to reuse the idea at all. Whatever the case, keep an eye on our guides to the The Brave and the Bold release date and The Batman 2 release date to see where the big, black Bat will show up next.