One of the most overrated graphic novels, is now an okay movie. Batman: The Killing Joke is based on the DC one shot of the same name, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland. It was controversial due to the scene of the Arkham Asylum inmate shooting and paralyzing Barbara Gordon, ending her career as Batgirl. The film is produced by Bruce Timm, directed by Sam Lui, and released through Warner Bros. Animation.
The film opens in Gotham City with a backstory of the relationship between Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Batgirl (Tara Strong). It is contentious as Batgirl is furious that Batman continues to treat her like a sidekick. However, this blossoms into a budding romance that ends quickly.
To make matters worse, Batman discovers that the Joker (Mark Hamill) has escaped from Arkham Asylum. As he looks for clues, the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon in her apartment and “stages” her in an attempt to drive her father, Commissioner James Gordon (Ray Wise) insane. Meanwhile, we get a look at a possible origin for the Joker.
The voice cast was incredible. It is truly what they call all-star. Besides the principal actor, it includes: Nolan North, Robin Atkin Downes, John DiMaggio, Brian George, and a few others known to fans of DC Comics Animated films. This was a good decision.
I have to say, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are the best when it came to animated Batman and The Joker. Their chemistry has never been matched. Also, Tara Strong was great as Barbara Gordon. She was perfect for the part and born to voice it. The animation was superb and one of the best. Though, I was not a fan of the ears on Batman’s cowl.
Now, the backstory did not seem to fit the original comic. Granted, the graphic novel is too short to make an entire film, but I would have filled it with the Joker. Instead, it comes off as almost a standalone story completely separate. I never understood the big deal with the original comic book to begin with. It took away one of the best of the Batman family, ergo Batgirl. No other character truly clenched it, maybe the character Cassandra Cain a bit, but not much. There also was no climax. The movie just kind of ended. Most of the movie, Barbara narrated until the last act. It just stopped with no transition.
I found this aspect to be disappointing. They included this weird sexual tension between Bruce Wayne and Barbara Gordon that was bizarre. It made the story seem lesser and added nothing but to satisfy Bruce Timm’s unusual fetish.
Bottom line, Batman: The Killing Joke is average. It is okay, but not great or even good. Was it as bad as some of the other animated films based on DC Comics? No, but it could have been way better.
FAVORITE QUOTE: I’m not exactly sure what happened. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another. If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Extreme violence, disturbing images, and foul language
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie reviews of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.