Ever since DC and WB began producing spectacular animated movies back in 2007, we’ve been collectively holding our breaths for a few staple adaptations. I personally was waiting on the Dark Knight Returns and the Killing Joke. Then, they did it. Mercifully, they gave us the Dark Knight Returns and it stands as one of the greatest Batman movies, live-action or otherwise. Seemingly, the pressure was on for them to adapt the other. At the same time, we had help from one of the best Joker performers in history pushing for it. Mark Hamill, known for playing the Joker in the Batman: The Animated Series, was announcing his second retirement from the role of Joker, but promised that he would come out of retirement if WB/DC ever produced a Killing Joke adaptation. If I recall correctly, there was an active fan campaign that lobbied for them to produce the adaptation and cast Hamill in the role.
Despite tons of fan requests, WB/DC remained silent on the issue. I speculated that the book contained far too much adult content to be animated. At the time, the DC animated movies were more family-friendly. No matter how sad it was, it was totally understandable. However, with the animated movies moving into the realm of the New 52, the movies started moving from that demographic, appealing more to adult comic book readers, I suppose, it set the stage for last night’s announcement.
At a Justice League: Gods and Monsters panel at San Diego Comic-Con last night, Bruce Timm announced that the Killing Joke would finally be adapted into an animated feature for 2016. I didn’t realize how long I had been waiting to write those words. The Killing Joke is by far my favorite book of all time, comic book or literature. I’ve extolled it to anybody who was willing to hear it. I introduced it to my core group of friends and at our 3rd annual Batman celebration (yes, we do that), we sat around, books in hand, and acted out the book as a radio play. Even after reading at least 2-3 times prior, I still got chills.
Batman: The Killing Joke is coming to animated film 2016 — Just announced by Bruce Timm at our JL: Gods & Monsters panel! #DCSDCC
— DC Comics (@DCComics) July 11, 2015
The reveal was most exciting, showing that Timm has a flair for the theatrics, saying that he’ll be back to Comic-Con next year for The Killing Joke. Further details were later revealed that Timm would act as executive producer for the adaptation and that they will include an all-new 15-minute prologue, according to SuperHeroHype. Recently, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the book. First, Grant Morrison interpreted the ending publicly on Kevin Smith’s Fat Man on Batman podcast, believing that Batman actually killed the Joker in the book. This sent the Internet in a flurry, as they combed through the ending of the book, picking up on every detail, to confirm Morrison’s claim. Second, an article cropped up on the Internet condemning the book for being far too grotesque with its implied rape and humiliation of Barbara Gordon. (Thankfully, our own Nat Brehmer wrote a beautiful piece defending the book.) Regardless of all of this, it just shows that the book is still relevant, despite being over 25 years old. Aside from that, two other movies were officially announced. An original movie entitled Batman: Bad Blood featuring the introduction of Batwoman and a new Justice League film entitled Justice League vs. Titans, another original movie featuring the Teen Titans.
I have high hopes for this adaptation, considering how well done Dark Knight Returns was. I hope that Mark Hamill returns as the Joker as I can only hear that monologue in his voice. I hope that Kevin Conroy returns at Batman. I hope that Jay Oliva directs it after doing a fantastic job with Dark Knight Returns. I hope that they attempt to provide more for Barbara Gordon as a character rather than a plot device. I hope that they don’t censor it. The subject of Barbara is very touchy and the events of that book are horrific for anybody to endure, but I feel like the integrity of the story should be upheld, but modified at least slightly to acknowledge the gravity of it all.
We’ll find out just how well they handle it next year, in 2016. It’s a good time to be a Batman fan.
Batman: The Killing Joke was released in 1988 written by Alan Moore with art from Brian Bolland, known for the crippling of Barbara Gordon and depicting an origin story for the Joker. The events of this book have been incorporated into canon, as Barbara was paralyzed from the waist down and eventually became the superheroine known as Oracle. Considered one of the greatest depictions of the Joker, it has inspired many Joker actors since, including the late Heath Ledger.