The Killing Joke - Why is Batman being a dick?

Review - The Killing Joke (with spoilers)

Back in April this year when 'The Killing Joke' trailer dropped I was pretty excited - It had all the ingredients for something amazing! 

  • An epic Batman/Joker story (pre-made and ready to go)
  • An 'R' rating to support the graphic nature of the story that had to be told
  • Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy reprising their roles as The Joker and Batman.

What could go wrong? Turns out quite a bit when you don't follow all the instructions... 

Note: I'm going to have to apologise in advance for getting on my soap-box and telling you how much better the graphic novel is compared to the movie. #SorryNotSorry

The Story 

The Joker decides to prove to Batman once and for all that all it takes for a good man to go insane is one very bad day. So he takes it upon himself to torment Commissioner Gordon by shooting and crippling his daughter and then forces him to see the pictures of her degradation - In the hope being that Gordon will lose his mind and his convictions.

All of these actions coincide with Batman realizing that his relationship with the Joker has reached an impasse, and he needs to try and reach whatever humanity still exists in the Joker before the two of them kill one another.

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When it works, it really works!

As for the main story line, it remains a very faithful adaptation—nearly word-for-word of Alan Moore and Brain Bolland’s original 'The Killing Joke'. 

And once we actually get into that content from the graphic novel it's pretty solid. Unfortunately though, there is some new content that doesn't quite stand the test of time for the first part of the movie. More on that soon. 

Some of the best parts of the movie would have to include: 

  • Mark Hamill as the Joker - He's just brilliant. He really brings the character to life. If given the option I'd vote Mark Hamill voices the Joker from now until the end of time.
  • The animation is fantastic - As you would expect from Warner Brothers, they've been doing this for a long time.
  • You can really see the artists have had a great time bringing The Jokers "fun-house" to life with circus freaks.
  • They also make great use of shading and shadows to really unearth the darkness that is Gotham City.
  • The flashbacks that make up the origin story of The Joker are nicely interwoven into the story and never feel out of place.

So that's some of the highlights. Now for some of the things that I didn't feel worked quite so well...

joker

They #REKT Batgirl

The Killing Joke is only 76 minutes - So it's pretty short by movie standards, but about normal for animated movies of a similar nature. This is a movie where I feel like the first 20 - 30 minutes could almost be cut completely...and unfortunately that's probably my biggest issue with this entire movie.

The main reasons being:

  • Firstly, Barbara Gordon came across weak and a little bit of a stereo-typical - girl meets boy, girl falls in love, girl gets heart broken... this is 2016. We can do better than that.
  • Secondly, I personally consider Batman to be more like an Uncle to Batgirl - Seeing the two of them getting it on was disturbing.
  • And, Batman is all about the rules. In the context set in this story there is no way Batman would have let romance get in the way of crime fighting.
  • Finally, there is no conclusion to the Batgirl/Batman story at the end of the movie - If you're going to add new story to the start you owe it to the viewer to add some closure. 

In a nutshell - All of this 'new content' happens in the first 20ish minutes of the film. It's clearly been added to try and build empathy with the viewer for what's about to happen to Barbara. Unfortunately for me, it had the opposite effect - it left me feeling frustrated that this new content was being tacked on with minimal thought for any of the other characters and the universe they operate in.

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Overall

If you haven't read 'The Killing Joke' then you might enjoy this movie more than I did. If you have read it, you may want to hold off before rushing out and picking up a copy of this movie - wait till it hits Netflix or is in the bargain bin.

If you're still on the fence and have the ability to read - stick with the graphic novel. It's a lot more enjoyable and you'll never have to experience Uncle Batman getting it on with Batgirl.


Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's graphic novel "The Killing Joke" is a cult classic. Unfortunately this animated adaption of the same story probably isn't going to follow in it's foot steps.

[+] Ravens

  • Mark Hamill as the Joker (perfection) 
  • The Killing Joke content that sticks to the script
  • The closest thing we've got to a Joker origin story

[-] Ravens

  • What The Joker did to Batgirl was nothing in comparison to what the writers did to her in this movie. 
  • Boyfriend Batman is a jerk
3-ravens

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