It won’t be long before the much anticipated animated film, Batman: The Killing Joke, will be showing in select theaters and debuting its video release, and now that production has wrapped, Batman actor Kevin Conroy has opened up about what it was like to again face off against Mark Hamill’s Joker. The two actors have voiced their respective DC Comics characters for over 20 years, but reuniting on Batman: The Killing Joke was still an exciting new experience.
Batman: The Killing Joke Pits Kevin Conroy Against Mark Hamill Once More
While the Batman and Dark Knight films have presented us with a variety of actors taking on the role of Batman and Bruce Wayne, the animated version has stuck with Kevin Conroy through the years and DC has enlisted Conroy in voicing Batman in video games as well as in various animated film projects and animated series. Now, Kevin talks about getting back into the groove with Mark Hamill and how the relationship between Joker and Batman has always been mutually inclusive.
“Well, I like to think I never left the voice of Batman. I’ve been doing it for 24 years,” Conroy says of reprising his Batman character. “What’s wonderful about it is getting back in the booth with Mark Hamill, because that Batman-Joker relationship, it’s almost like Joker defines Batman and Batman defines Joker, it’s the dark and the light, and sometimes it feels like either of us wouldn’t exist completely without the other, and Mark and I work so well together.”
Conroy also spoke about Batman: The Killing Joke as a film, as opposed to its source material, the comic book story written by Alan Moore. While the animated film does stay faithful to the source material, Conroy says he likes the way the film writers have expanded on the story, particularly when it comes to telling Batgirl’s story. As has been previously revealed, the Batman: The Killing Joke film has dissected the much criticized Batgirl story arc and fleshed it out, so that fans will get a deeper understanding of Batgirl and her struggles. Kevin says that there’s also more exposition on Batman’s own internal struggles in how he will ultimately deal with the Joker.
“There are a couple of really wonderful scenes that I have with Mark that I’m really proud of. Like in most of the Batman stories, he goes through a real internal growth period and an arc,” says Conroy. “And the struggle is with the Joker. And he’s actually trying to draw the evil out of the Joker. It’s a very cathartic process for Batman, this one. And it’s a very complete arc for him.”
Batman: The Killing Joke Executive Producer Bruce Timm On Adapting Alan Moore’s Book
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Essentially, Batman: The Killing Joke consists of two acts, the Batgirl prologue and the Alan Moore tale. Timm reveals that he has always had problems with parts of the Alan Moore comic book, saying that he admires the story more than he loves it and that’s something hardcore fans will have to take at face value. Still, Bruce says he didn’t want to tinker with the original story, and he didn’t want to downplay any of the darker, more violent aspects of the story.
“Love it or not, we felt we just needed to kind of do a straight-up adaptation of it. So we didn’t deliberately tone anything down,” says Timm. “We didn’t deliberately change anything. We didn’t look at anything and say, ‘It’s just too disturbing, we can’t do that.’ If we were going to do it, we were going to do it.”
Bruce says some things were added to that part of the film, just to flesh out the story a bit better. For instance, script writer Brian Azzarello filled out a scene in which Jim Gordon is being tormented by the Joker. The Batman: The Killing Joke executive producer says a trial segment was also included and he says it fits so organically with the rest of the story that even he forgets that it wasn’t a part of the Alan Moore comic book story.
Another aspect of Batman: The Killing Joke that has fans anxious to see the finished film is the retelling of the Joker’s origin story, but Timm points out that even Alan Moore suggested that the story told in Batman: The Killing Joke may or may not be the truth.
“Alan Moore kind of hedged his bets by giving the Joker that line towards the end where he says, ‘Well, sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes I remember it another.’ So we don’t really know if in fact it is actually his true origin story. For lack of an alternative, it is kind of his de facto origin.”
Batman: The Killing Joke will debut in select theaters on July 25. Ticket information and the full list of participating theaters can be found on the Fathom Events website.
[Image by Warner Bros.]