Recently, on July 25th, I went to see the animated release of The Killing Joke that was shown in theaters for a limited, two night showing. Once again, with my trusty sidekick, Marc, we went to a late night showing with a bunch of fellow nerds. This post will contain spoilers.
While the actual movie was shorter than I expected, we did get to see Mark Hamill reminiscing over his past performances of The Joker and how he was looking forward to being able to once again portray The Joker in The Killing Joke.
I was surprised at the animation style and how it didn’t seem to be up to par with other animated releases. I’m not sure if it was an artistic decision or a budgetary reason, but it did distract me from the story for awhile.
There has been some recent criticisms of the film (surprise!), which seems to accompany any film release nowadays. But that is the world we live in now, whether the criticism is accurate or not, someone is offended – but that’s a different argument for a different time and a different website. The criticisms vary from Batman and Batgirl having a romantic relationship to how Batgirl, aka Barbara Gordon, was abused by The Joker. I can see how the latter is concerning as it portrays inappropriate and damaging violence towards women. The former complaint doesn’t have merit for me. If Bruce and Barbara want to have a fling then that’s their decision, and the film clearly portrays them making a conscious decision to go forward with the relationship.
With that being said, the way The Joker kidnaps Jim Gordon from Barbara’s apartment and shoots her and then takes photos of Barbara to later try and break Det. Gordon is pretty accurate in relation to how it was previously portrayed in the comic book story. The story of Bruce and Barbara being involved in a relationship was not in the original story. I think comic book lovers get too involved with and concerned about the idea of “that wasn’t in the comic book!”. While I can appreciate general ideas and concepts and even a specific scene or sequence being portrayed on film, I would rather have the filmmaker add to the already existing story that was presented in the comic. Or even change the story halfway through and have a different ending. I think that movies, or animated features, or TV shows that follow the previous story exactly are boring and predictable, as we have already consumed that story in a different medium. I feel the same with novels or comic books that are based on a movie. If they are the exact same story as what was presented on TV or the movie screen, then I don’t feel like I’ve seen anything new.
The comic The Killing Joke is disturbing and intense to read. This style carried over to the animated feature. I believe the criticisms given are legitimate, but at the same time wonder why there wasn’t outrage when the comic was released. But again that’s another topic for another website.
While it was a bold move to release The Killing Joke in theaters, I don’t believe it was the right medium for this story to be told. The level of animation and directing didn’t rise to the level of a movie release. This release was strictly based on fan demand, in my opinion. I feel that like most animated DC movies, the straight to video format would’ve worked just fine for this movie. It’s perfect for home video viewing, but too small for the big time.