We’re only on day one of the overwhelming Comic-Con coverage catch-up onslaught, so hopefully you’re strapped in for a long and alternately awesome/terrible ride. On the terrible side, we definitely need to talk about the almost impressively awful shitshow that was the trailer and entire panel for the animated Batman movie, The Killing Joke.
For many, the anticipation for an R-rated animated Batman, based on “the most shocking graphic novel” (according to the movie’s trailer), is incredibly exciting. For others, the book was a low point in how Alan Moore’s ’80s viewpoint took down Barbara Gordon, one of the strongest heroes for female comics fans everywhere.
Anyone in attendance at the movie’s Comic-Con panel who might have been on the fence between those two opinions has now surely been pushed over the edge of the latter, and pushed hard.
As i09 describes, everyone involved in the film knew they would need to add to the book’s existing story if they wanted enough material for a feature-length film. What they decided to do was to add a 30-minute opening, introducing Barbara Gordon and developing her character. Doesn’t that sound great? Well, it’s not.
In that opening, we meet Barbara Gordon as a young librarian who has started donning the Batgirl costume in order to attract the attention of Batman—not just in crime-fighting prowess, but sexually, telling co-workers that she has “a man in her life” (throughout, Batman is apparently portrayed as emotionally distant from Barbara).
What ends up being served to audiences is a strong reminder that just because a movie has a female protagonist, that does not give the filmmakers (or creators in any genre) carte blanche to call their movie anything hinting at feminist. Because making Barbara Gordon, a kickass heroine who was already non-lethally fridged in the original book as a way for the Joker to toy with Batman and Commissioner Gordon— to then do THIS to her, is beyond icky.
idk how to feel about this pic.twitter.com/gsBGHsYet5— ☕ (@AcroNite7) July 22, 2016
According to those who have seen the movie
The audience reportedly applauded the question while writer Brian Azzarello and producer Bruce Timm stood by their claim that Barbara is portrayed as a “strong female character.”
At this point, a “heckler” (Azzarello’s word), who also happened to be Jeremy Konrad, a contributor for Bleeding Cool, yelled from the back of the room, “Yeah, by using sex and then pining for Bruce.” As Konrad retells it,
The panel understandably asked what was that. I repeated myself, but the crowd was both booing and clapping at what was said. Clearly they had heard me the second time, because instead of responding the second time it was said, Azzarello yelled from the stage
“Wanna say that again? Pussy?”
What we have here are fans (male fans, it’s probably worth noting), calling out the creators and adaptors of a thing they all genuinely love, for their questionable choices. Fans aren’t entitled to dictating the decisions in material, of course, but these panels and Q&As are DESIGNED to give us a small, brief part in the conversation around them. But on the other side of the table, is a man whose ego is clearly so fragile, the only response he has is to insult his fans.
Add on top of that the fact that he was defending his portrayal of women by using gender-based insults, and we have a garbage mountain of irony too sad to be even the tiniest bit funny.