| As Batman hunts for the escaped Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime attacks the Gordon family to prove a diabolical point mirroring his own fall into madness.
It has long been held that Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s 1988 graphic novel “The Killing Joke” is one of the best Batman standalone tales ever told. It is my all time favourite comic which has a gritty script, coupled with sumptuous art, means it stays in the mind long after it’s 48 pages have been devoured. Moore, in typical grumpy style, as said that he ‘never really liked it’, and found it ‘far too violent and sexualized’. Odd quotes from a man who had the final say in the script, but let’s be honest he’s always been an odd bugger. You won’t find Moore’s name anywhere in the credits to this brand new animated version, simply because that’s what he wanted, happy to see all monies go to artist Brian Bolland.
Going into this movie I was hoping for one of the best Batman animated movie I’ve ever seen, and while Batman: The Killing Joke part was good, it was also somewhat underwhelming. This adaptation does an unfortunate injustice to the story. It blatantly deflects the attention off of Batman and Joker, and into a Batgirl tale. Knowing there needed to be material added for proper length, I was glad to hear they added more Batgirl backstory. It’s not like the prologue is awful, but in retrospect, it really dampens the impact of later events in the film, instead of strengthening them.
“All these years, and I don’t know who he is any more than he knows who I am.”
Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy have and will always be the quintessential versions of Joker and Batman, and they absolutely kill it once again. The only thing better than a Hamill-Joker long monologue is a great one-liner by Conroy’s Batman completely shutting him up. And that never fails to happen here, they are endlessly entertaining together.
On an animation level the film isn’t that much better than most DC Animation films. While 50% of the scenes look beautiful, the other 50% looked really bad drawn. So this is really a mixed bag, with the first half coming across like a separate episode from the TV series that’s been bolted on, and the second half doing a good job of living up to the title. After watching it I felt like reading the comic again, and it’s so much better, something I didn’t feel so much after “The Dark Knight Returns”.
Whatever Moore thinks, it’s a superbly good read, and will always get recommended over this version. “The Killing Joke” animated is simply an adaptation that wasn’t needed, and succeeds mostly in watering down a great piece of literature. There have been a few moans about it’s ‘adult’ themes, but there really is nothing too graphic, although the script does add in a needless extra scene to let you know that the Joker gets horny when he escapes. File under ‘watch once then forget’.