The Killing Joke is a 30-year-old Batman graphic novel, one of the greatest Batman graphic novels of all time. For over 25 years, Batman: The Killing Joke by writer Alan Moore has been considered one of the greatest stories of the Caped Crusader ever told, right up there with Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. The Killing Joke redefined Batman’s arch-enemy Joker, it explained the origin of the clown prince of crime. One of the most controversial stories ever created in the comics. The Killing Joke is widely derided for its depiction of violence against women. The synopsis of The Killing Joke is as follows.
The Joker breaks out of Arkham Asylum and kidnaps and tortures Commissioner Gordon to prove even the most noble people can be pushed to madness. He wants to prove the point that all it takes is one bad day to turn the sanest man alive to lunacy. Joker shoots Barbara Gordon, daughter of the Commissioner, paralyzing her and ending her career as Batgirl. To torture and break down the spirit of Commissioner, he strips Barbara and takes pictures of her. Later he shows those pictures to Commissioner to push him off the edge.
In 2015, at San Diego Comic-Con, Bruce Timm announced that an animated film based on the novel was in development and slated to be released in 2016. The film debuted to a packed house of over 4,000 fans at Comic-Con in San Diego this year. This film adaptation is special for many reasons.
- It is DC’s first R-rated animated film ever—something that has never happened before.
- Secondly, it is the reunion of the voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their iconic roles of Batman and Joker which they have played in the Batman: The Animated Series.
- The adaptation remains loyal to the novel with one exception, it includes a 25-minute opening prologue which shows how the personal and professional relationship of Batman and Batgirl were affected amid a complicated case.
The Killing Joke was getting negative attention online, controversy sparked on Friday night when footage from the film leaked before the Comic-Con screening. It was revealed that there includes a scene involving Barbara Gordon/Batgirl (Tara Strong) and Batman (Kevin Conroy) having a sexual encounter. In the beginning of the film, Batman and Batgirl have a love-making scene on the rooftop. It’s awkward due to the fact that Batman and Batgirl have a father-daughter relationship. It’s an unusual pairing because Barbara is shown as the same age as the first Robin, and she has been frequently seen romantically involved with him.
Screenwriter Brian Azzarello and director Sam Liu spoke about the decision to introduce the love-making scene to the relationship between Batman and Batgirl.
“The thing about this is that it’s controversial, so we added more controversy,” explained Azzarello. “I think she is stronger than the men in her life in this story. She controls the men in her life in this story.”
“They both make mistakes, but she’s the one who decides, ‘I have to stop. There’s a problem here, and I need to step away from this,'” Liu explained. “I think that comes from an emotional strength. I think she makes the decisions that strong people make.”
“Batman: The Killing Joke” will be available for Digital HD download on July 26, and arrives on Blu-ray/DVD on August 2.