Even as Warner Bros. released a full-length trailer for Batman: The Killing Joke, we’re minded that Alan Moore, the man to have written the story for this upcoming animated release, has long been the story’s biggest critic. Looking back on his own work, Moore finds more fault with Batman: The Killing Joke than most and, while the story has been hailed by many as the quintessential Batman/Joker saga, Moore says the comic book and the film upon which it has been based is too melodramatic and too violent.
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While Alan Moore may not be fond of Batman: The Killing Joke, the story, now to be told on film, has been long revered as an excellent exploration of the roles of good and evil, but also, more specifically, of the nature of the rivalry between Batman and the Joker. It provides an origin story for the Joker and reveals how the Joker came to develop an obsession with Batman in the first place.
First published as a graphic novel in the late 80s, Batman: The Killing Joke is widely considered to be the greatest, if not the most bone-chilling, Joker story to have ever been crafted. What makes this saga so widely respected is also what makes it so widely criticized. Batman: The Killing Joke continues to inspire debate over its treatment of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, a story arc that sees the Gordon character shot in the back by the Joker, photographed nude (as a way to torment her father, Commissioner Gordon), and left paralyzed for life.
It has been said that the new Batman: The Killing Joke film will attempt to address the wrongs done to the Batgirl character, giving her a more fleshed out story, though it seems, ultimately, she will still suffer that same fate.
Alan Moore Is The First To Decry His Own Work On Batman: The Killing Joke
Mr. Moore has denounced his work on Batman: The Killing Joke more than once and, even before the film seemed a possibility, Alan said he didn’t like his writing on the project and was particularly bothered by the fact that the tale turned out to be so violent and dark. He adds that, were he to return to the Batman franchise today, he would prefer to write the campier detective-style stories of bygone eras than to delve any deeper into the darker Batman stories currently popular.
“I think it put far too much melodramatic weight upon a character that was never designed to carry it,” more says of his Batman graphic novel. “It was too nasty, it was too physically violent. There were some good things about it, but in terms of my writing, it’s not one of my favorite pieces.”
Taking it a step further, Moore has said that he has asked that his name be removed from an credits for Batman: The Killing Joke, as soon as he heard of the plans to produce the animated film. Additionally, the writer asked that any profits be directed toward the artist and not to himself, as he wants to distance himself from the story as much as possible.
“Actually, with The Killing Joke, I have never really liked it much as a work – although I of course remember Brian Bolland’s art as being absolutely beautiful – simply because I thought it was far too violent and sexualised a treatment for a simplistic comic book character like Batman and a regrettable misstep on my part.”
Moore also points out that he has no ownership of the Batman franchise or any characters created within it, so any influence he has had on the Batman character was long ago left in the past. Moore is very clear in his position that he holds no love for Batman.
Batman: The Killing Joke is set to be released on video, though a specific release date has yet to be determined.
[Image by Warner Bros.]