As a fan of The Joker, Alan Moore, and Brian Bolland, I was stoked when I heard that DC Comics‘ The Killing Joke was going to have an animated adaptation.
The DVD and Blu-Ray came out this month, and I was able to get a copy. While I expected that I would like the movie, I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. The animated movie didn’t just retell the comic book from start to finish. Instead, the movie expanded on the original comic book, going deeper into a backstory with Batgirl in the beginning of the film, which gave her more of a central part in The Killing Joke’s story.
This was a good move. I know there are fans out there who were upset that this animated adaptation wasn’t just a direct translation of the comic, that more story was added, and that certain small details were changed. I felt differently when watching the film. Starting with the main change that the movie brought in expanding the story with Batgirl, I loved what they did in showing her depth as a human being and as a crime-fighter.
In this movie, Batgirl and Batman have some strong sexual tension, which also added to the dynamic of them working together as a team. Seeing Batman and Batgirl having such an intense relationship mixed with affinity and discord dove into how human both of them are behind the masks. While we’re use to seeing Batman as a cautious, far-removed individual who doesn’t let anyone get too close, we see not only how he does have a yearning to connect to others, but how this conflicts with his heroic code and focus on protecting Gotham. This also brings to heart that even a stoic figure like Batman has emotional vulnerabilities, though he’s hardened himself in order to fight crime efficiently. We also see how Batgirl, a new hero in the city, struggles to understand how she can work with Batman, but also forge her own identity in crime-fighting.
I was happy to hear Batman and The Joker played by the same voice actors I came to love on Batman: The Animated Series. Being a 90’s kid, Kevin Conroy will always be Batman to me, and Luke Skywalker, er, Mark Hamill will always be The Joker to me. This was a good move for nostalgic fans like myself. Seeing these legends act out The Killing Joke, which is arguably the most famous comic story in Batman history, is thrilling. Mark Hamill captures the humor and insanity that is The Joker without fail, just as Alan Moore’s original comic did. Tara Strong did a great job voicing Barbara Gordon/Batgirl as well.
The most famous scenes of The Killing Joke are done to perfection.
For people who like comic adaptations that are strict to the original story, I could see this movie pissing them off. The Batgirl story that leads into the Alan Moore tale could make a Killing Joke fan say “Hey! This wasn’t in the comic!”. For people like me who love a new twist to old tales, it’s perfect. How they build Batgirl was my favorite part of the movie. I could talk more about this great DVD, but after deleting so many details from this article, I decided that I don’t want to spoil too much. If you like Batman, The Killing Joke, Joker, Batgirl… buy this one.