The Killing Joke is the seminal Batman and Joker story from writer Alan Moore and illustrator Brian Bolland. It not only presents a Joker origin story, it was also bold enough to forever alter the life of Batgirl Barbara Gordon.
In the original one shot, Barbara is a pawn in The Joker’s plan. She is a means to an end: Proving that anyone can slip into madness after one bad day. In the quest to pad a 48 page comic into a DC Animation feature length, it was decided that Barbara would have a bigger role in the beginning of the film. Unfortunately, the bigger role is undercut by a specific plot point that was revealed during the San Diego Comic Con and proceeded to spread across the internet. If you heard that rumor, it is true.
Batman is the best dick in DC comics after all; the World’s Greatest Detective.
Basically, Barbara Gordon/Batgirl’s sexual tension with Bruce Wayne/Batman comes to a head when they have rooftop sex. Sex that we, thankfully, don’t see. It’s such a useless point when the arc of the first thirty minutes could have been, and was, accomplished with Batgirl’s confrontation with a douche canoe criminal that she almost beats into a bloody pulp.
Ignoring the implications of expanding a female role in order to achieve a run time of 75 minutes with something as useless as the plot point used, The Killing Joke proper is a fan’s wet dream. The animation of the actual story is faithful to the original comic, with a few lines given to other characters and some goddamn added for the Deadpool-approved R-rating.
Kevin Conroy is the iconic Batman that kids of the 90s will forever equate with the character and Mark Hamill is breathtakingly maniacal in voicing The Joker. Tara Strong leaves all traces of Harley Quinn out of her performance as Barbara Gordon, to the point of being unrecognizable in the best possible way. The animation may seem rudimentary or less flashy than one of a million Marvel animated series on The Disney Channel to some, but it also brings us back to the art deco gorgeousness of the 90’s animated series. It’s perfection in this down and dirty tale.
The combination of Conroy, Hamill, and the story brought to life before our eyes was enough for most of the fans in attendance. I lamented the first thirty minutes of the flick and reveled in the remaining 45. Hearing the twisted, dark, iconic story play out was pure bliss and seeing it was somehow less reprehensible than reading the comic itself. What I ended up with was a solid majority of an animated storyline that I would have paid to see by itself. If Alan Moore could feel pride at his work being made into a movie, I think he would be ecstatic with the controversial add-on. Do with that what you will.
The Killing Joke has added another theater showing today, July 26. It is also available to purchase digitally today and will be released on DVD/Blu-ray on August 2nd.