The effects of Deadpool’s success on the superhero movie industry are already being felt, it seems. The animated adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke, one of the most acclaimed and controversial comics of all time, has been rated R. The original comic, which was written by Alan Moore and drawn by Brian Bolland, is exceptionally controversial. The book is exceedingly violent, graphic, and vividly depicts the sexual assault and paralysis of Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl. Usually this would be enough to sink its reputation beyond repair. But The Killing Joke is also probably the single most definitive comic about the Joker and Batman’s relationship of all time.
Fans have been clamoring for a film adaptation of some sort for years. They aren’t the only ones. At one point, Mark Hamill (the iconic voice of the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series and the Arkham Asylum video games) said that he’d come out of Joker retirement were he presented with the opportunity to voice the character in a Killing Joke adaptation.
It was recently announced that he’d be getting that very opportunity, along with the original voice of his old onscreen nemesis, Kevin Conroy, returning to voice the Caped Crusader once more.
Sam Register, president of Warner Bros. animation, was quoted in EW as saying, “From the start of production, we encouraged producer Bruce Timm and our team at Warner Bros. Animation to remain faithful to the original story — regardless of the eventual MPAA rating.” He went on to say that, “The Killing Joke is revered by the fans…We felt it was our responsibility to present our core audience — the comics-loving community — with an animated film that authentically represented the tale they know all too well.” This is, for fans of the book, a good sign. Any fan of The Killing Joke will tell you that to censor an adaptation of this comic would almost certainly fail, as it’s a story that is ultimately a meditation on brutality and insanity. There are also likely to be those who are outraged the film is being adapted to begin with, given its graphic content which is widely interpreted as being especially misogynistic. As polarizing as the source material is, there’s no way the film won’t generate similar sentiment amongst fans.
Batman: The Killing Joke is, notably, the first animated DC film to receive an R rating. There has been no word as to whether or not allowing more extreme takes on DC’s characters in animation will become regular practice, though it was recently announced that an R-rated cut of the recent Batman V Superman would be available when the film was released for home media.
Batman: The Killing Joke will premiere at San Diego Comic Con over the summer, with a home media release to follow later in the year. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the inevitable One Million Moms petition protesting the existence of the film as well as any other Killing Joke news in the next few weeks.
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)