Controversy Surrounds DC Comics After Premiere Of ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ — Bruce Timm Speaks Out On Sex Scene, Sexual Violence

When it was revealed that Batman: The Killing Joke was going to be made into an animated film, fans around the world began to freak out a little bit. They freaked out in a good way, though, as they were happy that one of the greatest graphic novels ever would get proper treatment. After the premiere of the film took place at the San Diego Comic-Con 2016, it has brought about a huge amount of controversy for DC Comics.

The controversy has caused executive producer Bruce Timm to speak about it all.

Everyone knew that it was going to be an over-the-top and truly dark animated film. It had no choice due to the fact that Batman: The Killing Joke was a seriously dark graphic novel. When the film got an R-rating, it was confirmed that DC and Warner Bros. were going in that same direction.

If you have not seen the animated film version of Batman: The Killing Joke or read the graphic novel, please know there may be some spoilers ahead.

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[Image via Warner Bros. Entertainment]

There are some scenes in the film that depict physical violence against women, sexual scenes between Batman/Barbara Gordon and Batman/Bruce Wayne, and also sexual violence. Many are speaking out against Warner Bros. and DC Comics for these scenes, and it is causing a great deal of controversy.

Executive producer Bruce Timm spoke with Vulture about the film and all the flak that is being thrown at them for it. First of all, he spoke about including the sex scene between Batgirl and Batman, which ended up resulting in a conversation between him, co-producer Alan Burnett, and screenwriter Brian Azzarello.

“I don’t remember who initially came up with the idea, but we all kind of jumped on it all at the same time and said, Yeah, that’s kind of where we need to go.

“We were aware that it’s a little risky. There’s definitely some stuff in that first part of the movie that’s going to be controversial. Here’s where we came down on that specific issue: It was really important to us to show that both of the characters make some pretty big mistakes. I mean, his ‘parental skills’ aren’t that great. Maybe never having had any kids of his own, he doesn’t realize that if you tell a kid to not do something, they’re going to want to do it even more. And then she makes some mistakes and then he kind of overreacts to her mistakes and then she overreacts to his overreaction. So it’s very human; it’s a very understandable story. It’s tricky because it’s messy, because relationships are sometimes messy. But to me and to Alan and Brian, it was all very fascinating to us to explore that angle.”

In Batman: The Killing Joke, there is a lot of violence that comes Barbara Gordon’s way by way of the Joker and his actions. The animated version of the Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill) brings forth a new arc of his story and that includes the crazed clown’s sex life.

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[Image via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment]

That was when the subject of the Joker possibly raping Barbara Gordon was brought into question, and Timm has a very strong opinion about that.

“I don’t think that, actually. I did not think of it as supporting that. If I had, I probably would have changed the line. I never, ever thought that he actually raped her. Even in my first read of the comic, I never thought that. It just seemed like he shot her and then took her clothes off and took pictures of her to freak out her dad. I never thought that it was anything more than that.

“Here’s the thing: Whether he [raped her] or not, it’s still sexual violence. It’s still a horrible thing. So in my own head, I was already self-censoring the moment. Maybe just to make it a little more easier to get through. But it’s still a very horrible, horrible thing.”

Gizmodo stated that the film and the panel at Comic-Con was a complete “disaster,” and that appears to be the way that a lot of people feel. The additional narrative added to further Barbara Gordon’s story was needed, but when things were taken in a sexual direction, the opinions of the fans began to change.

Many are not happy with the way the film has come across, and that includes numerous people who have been associated with Batman comics in the past. Gail Simone is a DC Comics’ author, and she spent a long time writing for Barbara Gordon in Birds of Prey and other series.

She was not thrilled with the changes from the graphic novel of Batman: The Killing Joke to the film.

Batman: The Killing Joke was first released as a graphic novel in 1988, and the world has become a lot more sensitive since then. Things have changed, and violence against women is nothing to laugh about or even really portray on screen. With the almost straight adaptation of the graphic novel, DC Comics is coming under fire and Bruce Timm is trying desperately to defend the choices that were made. Unfortunately, it may be too late and a mountain that is too tall to climb.

[Image via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment]