BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE by Alan Moore is a divisive comic. Arguably the best Joker story ever written, Moore delved deep into the darkness of the Joker”s psyche. But the comic was also a product of its time. I”ve talked extensively about how the poor treatment of Barbara Gordon taints THE KILLING JOKE”S legacy…irrevocably so for some fans. So when Warner Bros. announced their animation division would adapt the tale, the powder keg was blown open again.
Now Warner Bros. has announced Batman: The Killing Joke will break with the animation divisions track record of family-friendly fare to give Joker”s origin an R-rating.
From the press release:
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has accepted the MPAA”s “R” rating for its upcoming animated film, Batman: The Killing Joke, choosing to remain true to the landmark DC Comics graphic novel”s violent, controversial story, and making the film the first non-PG/PG-13 rated movie in the nine-year history of the DC Universe Original Movie franchise. At this time, there are no plans for an edited, PG-13 version of the film.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. THE KILLING JOKE was – and is – a hard read full of adult themes. Animation is not only for children. But with the original cast of Batman: The Animated Series reuniting (Mark Hamill as the Joker, Kevin Conroy as Batman, and Tara Strong as Batgirl), there is trepidation among a section of the fandom that doesn”t want to relive Barbara Gordon”s victimization in a new medium. It appears executive producer and comic book legend Bruce Timm and his team have taken fan fears seriously.
The recently released home video Justice League vs. Teen Titans included footage from Batman: The Killing Joke. Footage that included Barbara Gordon in her Batgirl costume. An inside source close to The Killing Joke adaptation confirmed to HitFix Harpy that the animated feature would flesh out Babs” arc, making her an integral part of the story instead of an afterthought to push along the stories of the men in her life. But how?
Way back in July of 2015, DC announced the project, which included the following statement:
The animated adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke is executive produced by Bruce Timm and will retell this classic tale in an exciting new way. It”ll also feature an original 15-minute prologue that helps set up the story, giving even longtime fans of the story something new to look forward to.
Bruce Timm has also said in past interviews that THE KILLING JOKE was not long enough for a feature-length animated film, so story elements were added in to give it more depth.
My source has confirmed that 15-minute prologue is Batgirl”s story. The prologue allows the audience to invest themselves in Barbara as a character before her moment with the Joker. Hopefully, Batgirl gets a more active role throughout the film! While my source didn”t elaborate on how Batman: The Killing Joke would approach Batgirl”s maiming and sexual assault at the hands of the Joker, merely making her a fully-fledged person is a huge step in the right direction. Hopefully,
Batman: The Killing Joke arrives on home video sometime in 2016.