The Killing Joke — Is the Joke on us?

Batman: The Killing Joke was released recently on the 26th July 2016. Based on the controversial comic from the 80’s, the movie adaptation was bound to raise a few eyebrows. And that it did. In fact, the creators of the movie added more controversial material to the story in an effort to make the story even more absurd than it already is. These creators even exchanged nasty words between each other at a panel recently.

Based on a Brilliant yet Nasty Comic

Batman: The Killing Joke is a 1988 Comic Book Written by Alan Moore with Artwork by Brian Bolland. It is a Gruesome origin story for The Joker. The Similarities and Contrasts between Batman and The Joker are also explored in this book.

The Killing Joke

Spoilers Ahead (skip if you haven’t read the book)

A main plot point in the book is the shooting of Barbara Gordon which leads to her Paralysis. Batman is told that she was found shot and “in a state of undress” in her apartment. Later on, photos of her are shown to her father Commissioner Gordon, who was kidnapped by The Joker. He has killed a Robin in a previous comic — Batman: A Death in the Family. And in doing so Batman still went trough great lengths not to kill The Joker, but to just arrest him. But this time, The Joker has taken things too far. And maybe death is finally on the table for Batman. Maybe it’s now time to end this madness. Stop this crazy loop of catching this guy after he killed so many people and then lock him up only to have him escape and do it all over again.

After Batman captures The Joker, he still offers him a chance at rehabilitation. Even after all the things he has done. But The Joker still turns him down and instead tells him a joke. Batman joins Joker as they both laugh and while doing this, Batman places his hands around Joker’s neck. The Story ends here on a somewhat Ambiguous note. It’s totally up to us, the readers, to determine if Batman did break the Joker’s neck or if he just continued to laugh while they waited for the police to arrive.

The Killing Joke

The Killing Joke is without a doubt a Masterpiece in Litterature (Not just in comics). Some very Powerfull writing from Moore and Strong, Detailed imagery from Bolland. The two are at the peak of their careers when creating this book (Shortly after Watchmen). This comic is the ‘go to’ comic when research is needed for Joker portrayals (read by people like Tim Burton and Heath ledger). It is one of the Pioneering Batman Comics of the 80’s which helped establish Batman’s “Darker” side as he is currently known for (Another Comic was The Dark Knight Returns). It was also listed on IGN’s Top 10 Batman Stories and is also found on so many other top 10 Graphic Novel Lists and has won many awards like the Eisner Award for ‘Best Graphic Album’.

So is the Movie Adaptation as good? Not Even Close!

Batman: The Killing Joke Movie

I personally did not enjoy this movie. It was so hyped and so highly anticipated because it saw the return of veteran voice actors Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (Joker). But it did not live up to those expectations. Only the second half of the movie can be called a true adaptation of the comic. The first half was a “Brand New Story” that focused on Batgirl — Barbara Gordan. That story didn’t have a major link to the actual Killing Joke story. The only link was the character of Barbara Gordan. Batgirl doesn’t have any ties to the Killing joke comic, yet she gets a huge chunk of screen time at the start of the movie.

Barbara was originally used in the Killing Joke as a means of upsetting the reader in the hopes of creating animosity towards The Joker. As mentioned above it was also used to depict Joker as a man who has gone too far and now needs to be killed in order to stop him from causing further harm. So Why spend so much time on Batgirl? Why have a sex scene with her and Batman? Very strange choice from you Mr. Azarello (He has admitted to writing this story just for shock value).

The rest of the movie is very true to the source material. Every panel of the comic appears in this 2nd part of the movie. The voice acting is on point. But the artwork, although very well done, is still not as good as Bolland’s sleek artwork from the comic. The best part of the Movie was the Ending which felt very emotional. This was due to the voice acting from Hamill & Conroy. One of the most iconic scenes from a comic book was played out by two of the most iconic voice actors of those characters.

DC Raised the Bar with their brilliant Movie adaptations of The Dark Knight Returns and Flashpoint. But they just simply failed here.

As of 03.01.2017, The Killing Joke Movie has Grossed $ 4.4 Million against a Budget of $ 3.5 Million.