I never knew what to infer from a certain scene (or panel) from The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller related to the ransom of the Ridley Chewing Gum heir.

After getting rid of the big mutant Batman grabs the mutant's machine gun and shots to another, to rescue the kid. She threatened Batman "I'll kill him", Batman shots, then there is this panel I don't know what to think of, Batman cradles the child to his chest emblem and he says "I believe you".

I believe you

There is an interpretation of this scene in the animated movie of The Dark Knight Returns, but this movie is changing some other things from the comic book here and there and I don't know how much is true to Miller's original intentions in this scene.

It is not only that Batman is using a fire arm here (which he clearly hates). The lack of explanation and Miller's drawing style make the panel quite ambiguous (at least for me). That thing on the wall seems to be blood (but, given what happened to mutant Spot the blood may not be necessarily hers). Is she dead (Batman believed she would kill the child and there was no other thing to do but to kill her)? Is she just wounded? In shock or fear? Given Miller's style and what we have, is it even possible to know what happened for sure?

What was Frank Miller's intention on this panel?

  • I haven't read the actual comic, but just from what you have here it seems pretty clear that Batman killed her to save the child. You've got it right here: "Batman believed she would kill the child and there was no other thing to do but to kill her". That's being pragmatic. Batman may try not to kill people, but he's not an idiot. – DCShannon Mar 31 '16 at 23:08
  • @DCShannon, but that is the thing. Is not clear is she is killed, just wounded or just intimidated by the shot. Later in the book Batman is against killing... so so he is against using guns. So there is some lack of coherence that makes this scene even less clear. – Kreann Apr 3 '16 at 2:40

I find it hard to believe that Batman killed the Mutant. Later he tries really, really to push himself to murder the Joker and even then he simply couldn't do it. If Batman had already commited murder, his internal narration would have acknowledged it during the scene. Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing in-universe after that panel indicating that Batman had killed, neither he was charged by the police nor the media makes any mention of it, whereas both happen to great effect after the Joker fakes being murdered by Batman.

The most likely explanation is that Batman simply shot to wound (I recall reading that Miller himself mentioned that was what happened, but can't find the source), or that he shot right next to the Mutant's head (you can see a bullet hole there!) and she was intimidated and surrenderd. That fact that Batman grabbed a gun and fired it against another person (even without killing her) already is a huge deal for him.

  • Thank you. I agree that "shot to wound/intimidate" is the most likely explanation. If wound (is that blood on the wall behind her in the panel) Batman would be quite stretching his own rules. Pity that you can't find the source, because is more or less what I was expecting for this question: an interview or article where Miller himself clarifies or comments. +1, but still hoping to grant the "best answer" so an answer with more authoritative references. – Kreann Apr 4 '16 at 13:42

Always thought that Batman disarmed the mutant by shooting the hand that was pointing the gun towards the child's forehead. Your Batman can be as badass as you want it to be.


His intention? Well, it sure as hell wasn't killing her. Even though she is homicidal mutant scum. Miller makes it a point, twice in DKR, that Batman doesn't kill. Once with the mutant leader, and later with the Joker.

The animated interpretation is great, probably what Miller was going for.

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