Batman isn’t just getting a live action treatment from Warner Bros. The studio has also been working on an animated adaptation of the Batman: The Killing Joke comic book with Kevin Conroy reprising his Bruce Wayne/Batman role and Mark Hamill returning as the Joker. While release dates are still sketchy, a new trailer and new spoilers reveal a dark, twisted tale worthy of Batman: The Killing Joke‘s controversial R rating.
Batman: The Killing Joke Teasers Reveal A Dark Tale Not Appropriate For Children
Creating an adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke has not been as easy as it might seem for writers and creators with the only sure thing being the idea that actors from Batman: The Animated Series would reprise their roles for the direct to video release. This particular Batman story establishes and sets the tone for the overall Batman vs. The Joker mythos, but the Batman: The Killing Joke‘s style of art, beautifully rendered in realistic style by Brian Bolland, made it nearly impossible to adapt for animation. Eventually, the team decided to go with the simpler artwork of Kevin Nowlan.
To many, Mark Hamill will forever be known as Luke Skywalker, but he has also made a name for himself with Batman fans as The Joker. Hamill may be as iconic as The Joker as he has been in the Star Wars saga with many fans of Batman: The Animated Series embracing Mark as the ultimate Batman villain, so his words shouldn’t be taken lightly, as Mr. Hamill comments on The Joker’s darker nature in Batman: The Killing Joke.
“If people want to see a really nasty, vile Joker, this is the one,” says Hamill.
Also new to Batman: The Killing Joke will be the treatment for Barbara Gordon, a character whose victimization has long been criticized. In the original source material, Barbara is shot, paralyzed, stripped nude, and, sexually assaulted, though that last item is merely implied and not shown. All of this is done to Ms. Gordon simply to break the spirits of the other characters, making her misfortunes that much more senseless and, as some might say, far too gratuitous. The animated adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke changes this by giving a broader back story for Barbara and for her alter ego as Batgirl. The creators behind Batman: The Killing Joke hope that the emphasis of Batgirl as Batgirl will detract from the character being viewed as a helpless victim.
“The audience gets to spend more time with Barbara Gordon as a person before the events of The Killing Joke,” says executive producer Bruce Timm.
Batman: The Killing Joke Proudly Earns Its ‘R’ Rating
Possibly even more controversial than the fate of Barbara Gordon comes the overall rating of Batman: The Killing Joke, yet Warner Bros. has released an unapologetic statement that doubles as a disclaimer to concerned parents of young Batman fans.
“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.”
Batman: The Killing Joke, as both a comic book and an animated film, serves to remind us that not all animation is intended for children, as the upcoming film seeks to tell the story as intended by the comic book author. It’s a graphically violent tale, and to water it down would only do a disservice to Batman fans. That said, it seems the creative forces behind Batman: The Killing Joke film adaptation are being kind to Batgirl fans only to be cruel.
The film will provide a 15-minute prologue, giving viewers a chance to really connect with Batgirl and to become emotionally committed to the character. Just as audiences begin to feel love and a deep association with Batgirl, they will again be forced to relive the character’s violent fate at the hands of the sadistic Joker.
[Image by DC Entertainment]