- Directed by Sam Liu
- July 22, 2016 (San Diego Comic-Con) / July 25, 2016 (US)
- Bruce Wayne/Batman-Kevin Conroy
- The Joker/Red Hood-Mark Hamill
- Barbara Gordon/Batgirl-Tara Strong
- Commissioner Gordon-Ray Wise
- Detective Harvey Bullock-Robin Atkin Downes
- Carlos Francesco-John DiMaggio
- Alfred Pennyworth-Brian George
- Reese-J.P. Karliak
- Murray-Andrew Kishino
- Mitch-Nolan North
- Parry Francesco/Paris Franz-Maury Sterling
- Carnival Owner-Fred Tatasciore
- Patrolman-Bruce Timm
- Jeannie-Anna Vocino
- Call Girl-Kari Wahlgren
- Sal Maroni-Rick D. Wasserman
The Joker escapes Arkham Asylum and focuses on Commissioner Gordon and his family to prove a very disturbing point.
The plot of Batman: The Killing Joke is built around The Joker wanting to prove the idea that all it takes is one very bad day. One very bad day can destroy a good person. One very bad day can turn the good to evil. One very bad day can break a person’s mind and turn them insane.
Speaking of The Joker we get an origin story for him in Batman: The Killing Joke. I can certainly see elements of it were used in the film The Joker though to be fair this is based off a graphic novel. Not a lot but enough that that the use is obvious. Here The Joker is a failed comic with a devoted wife. And we learn what destroyed him and made him who he was happened to be just one very bad day. And now The Joker has decided to prove that one very bad day could destroy anyone. Very disturbing stuff.
We never get a name for The Joker in the flashbacks. Not even a nickname. What strikes me is that here The Joker was such a nobody before that when he became the Clown Prince of Crime that apparently the police and Batman were unable to figure out who he really was. How insignificant and forgettable are you to be leave no trail? Then again the flashbacks might not be true since The Joker prefers his past to be “multiple choice.”
Some have leveled complaints about this adaption. I can certainly appreciate their points. If you’re invested in something and it doesn’t come out the way you want it then I certainly see why they are upset. I personally did not go into this with any real knowledge of the source material other than the final few frames of the story. I remember picking it up in some bookstore when I was very young but never purchasing it. I just skipped to the end.
I can draw issue with the portrayal of the dynamic between Batman and Batgirl. He is the seasoned veteran and she is the amateur studying under him. That is fine. I am not even bothered by the student being attracted to the teacher thing Batgirl has going on. My issue is the seasoned veteran with no displayed emotion towards his student decides to boink her on a rooftop while in costume. That strikes me as a massive bit of poor judgement on the part of master strategist Batman. He is in costume in public and in a very vulnerable position. Anywho…
Batman: The Killing Joke is probably one of the more disturbing Batman animated features. I found it rather shocking at many points. There has been blood and violence in Batman films before but what The Joker did here seemed more, for lack of a better word, relatable than some of the other stuff that has occurred. Possibly because what he did were things that could most certainly happen in the real world given a twisted enough mind.
The story here is essentially two parts. The first half is the setup of the conflict between Batman and Batgirl who has been essentially studying under him for some time with the second part being The Joker’s plot. They are two very separate stories merged into one. Having only looked at the last few panels of the original narrative I’m not sure how the story originally played out.
Batman: The Killing Joke is well executed. There is an ever increasingly dark tone to it as Batman becomes more and more convinced that what is happening with The Joker this time is their final confrontation. The dialogue makes for some fine drama between all the characters. The Joker’s focus as always appears to be Batman but one could infer that this is all really about Gordon and the plot is because of Gordon. Why did Joker not capture Batman and try to break him instead?
What happened in the closing moments in the original story was clear to me and it is strongly implied here as well though not nearly as clear. Originally it was implied to the point of almost being obvious that Batman killed The Joker. Then again they are asking your mind to do the work and not handing you the answers.
Quality like this makes me once again wonder why DC or Warner Bros. isn’t handing over the reins of their live action universe to any one of the multiple creative minds behind their animated films. This movie is great and I think a live action version handled by the people behind it would be even better. It’s dark and gritty and disturbing.
The animation strikes the perfect tone. You see a moody, decaying Gotham City on display here plus it has that feel of comic book art. They create a distinct and darkly beautiful world.
Batman: The Killing Joke is one of many great entries in the DCAU catalog. This movie I highly recommend!