The Killing Joke is a title that needs no introduction. It’s a classic story that makes The Joker Batman’s arch nemesis. So of course I was excited to hear that this story would be adapted into a R-rated animated film. If it’s one thing DC does right, it’s their animation. This movie also has Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series) back as Bruce Wayne and Luke Skywalker doing some great voice acting as The Joker.
So does this movie do the graphic novel justice?
Simply put, no. I enjoyed this movie so little that I had to ask myself if The Killing Joke is just grossly overrated or if this movie is just crushed by the huge expectations it had. That’s how hard I’m passing on this. I’ve decided that The Killing Joke is just one of those stories that flow better panel from panel of a comic instead of frame by frame of an animated movie.
Most DC animated movies lift directly from the source material and for the most part, this one did. But for some strange reason someone thought it would be cool to make Barbara Gordon and Bruce Wayne have a romantic relationship. Well…it’s not really romance, it’s “just sex” as she says although she’s being super emotional. This was a really weird twist to toss into this story and this is how it opens.
To make matters worse, their Comic Con panel was disastrous once this issue was raised. Here’s an excerpt from a Gizmodo article:
The Killing Joke story itself really doesn’t start until midway through. By this time, I was already kinda done with this movie.
My favorite part of The Killing Joke story is the joke itself.
The point is that Batman and Joker are really alike. The Joker believes Batman, along with everyone in the world, is one bad day away from diving into total madness. After the joke, Batman cracks a smile. It’s implied that he kills The Joker but it’s up for interpretation. In this movie, Batman laughs hysterically and grabs The Joker. Without any prior knowledge of how the graphic novel is supposed to end, you will end up being really confused about the movie’s ending. YOU HAD ONE JOB FOLKS!!!!!
I’m in the minority but I do like The Oracle/Barb ending but most people will hate that.
Ultimately, this movie will be a waste of your time. Just spend your ten bucks on Amazon for the graphic novel. This story is too nuanced for the screen which is why it’s been referenced but never adapted directly.
When I first heard The Killing Joke was getting an animated adaptation, I was beyond ecstatic. It was destined to be perfect. DC Animated films are ALWAYS good, the Bruce Timm animated Universe of Batman and Superman is one of the definitive takes on both characters and has influenced both comics and the big screen since their inceptions AND it was set to be the first Rated R animated feature from DC. Now way this movie can fail, right? WRONG.
As Ron articulated above, this movie is a gargantuan waste of time. For multiple reasons, firstly, the expectation of the title itself is almost impossible to live up to. Pretty much only Lebron has lived up to such lofty hype. This film fails to deliver on the title nor the R rating. The film’s first act has absolutely nothing to do with the plot outside of establishing a creepy and awkward one night stand between Bruce and Barbara. From there, the film builds up to…nothing. To be blunt, this film is like a rough handjob that you sit through in hopes that it leads to sex but it never does. I mean, that’s all I got. I can’t even adequately review this without rehashing tired clichés and rewording “it’s not good” a hundred different ways so I’ll leave it at this: SAVE YOUR MONEY.
Well that’s all there is to say about The Killing Joke. If you need a DC animated movie fix, go watch Justice League: War on Netflix or something. But AJ and I will be back in a week to review Suicide Squad.