Batman: The Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke
Joker: "This wasn't supposed to turn out boring."
Genre: Superhero
Directed By: Sam Liu
Produced By: Bruce Timm
Alan Burnett
Sam Register
Written By: Brian Azzarello
Based On: Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore & Brian Bolland
Starring: Kevin Conroy
Mark Hamill
Tara Strong
Ray Wise
Distributed By: Warner Home Video
Fathom Events
Release Date: July 22, 2016 (San Diego Comic-Con)
July 25, 2016 (United States)
Runtime: 77 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $3.5 million
Box Office: $4.4 million
Franchise: Batman

Batman: The Killing Joke is a 2016 American adult animated superhero thriller film. It's an adaptation of the 1988 classic comic book graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland. It starred Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Tara Strong and Ray Wise. Despite being made for a direct-to-video release, the film was ultimately given a "one-night only" theatrical release before being sent to home video. Like the original graphic novel, the film is about the Joker kidnapping Commissioner Gordon and trying to drive him insane just like him as he tries to remember his ambiguous past while Batman keeps seeking him so he can rescue Gordon and put an end to the Joker's scheme once and for all.


Batman's greatest enemy, the Joker, attacks Commissioner Gordon and his family in a twisted quest to drive them crazy. Batman tries to find the Joker's hideout before it's too late.

Bad Qualities

  1. The film feels like it didn't exist and never was supposed to be a film adaptation. But to put the cat out of the room, it contains a fifteen-minute unnecessary prologue that features Batman and Batgirl in a case to stop a young mobster from taking over Gotham City by usurping his uncle's power. Not only this wasn't present in the original graphic novel but has no impact on the main story and its events are disconnected from the rest of the film, receiving no further mentions in the story. It only serves to flesh out Batgirl's character, even though she isn't the main character of the original comic, which was likely done to pander SJW feminists.
  2. Paris Franz, the young mobster from the prologue, is a weak and generic villain who only exists for the prologue's sake in a similar way to those villains invented solely to expand the source material's story like in the live-action adaption of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Illumination's The Lorax along with the Netflix animated series, Green Eggs, and Ham. He is also a sexist and misogynistic character who just sees Batgirl as a sex object. You can even say he is like a male Harley Quinn, but a laughable one with an unoriginal name (his name seems like the words "Paris" and "France"). Also, he is never based from the comics at all or had nothing to do with the Joker being the real main villain.
    • Also, his mobster uncle feels like a bootleg rip-off of Carmine Falcone from Batman: Year One and Batman: The Long Halloween while Paris also feels too similar to Alberto Falcone who is also a traitor to his family.
  3. The forced sex scene between Batman and Batgirl. Aside from that this wasn't included in the original comic, their relationship is inappropriate not only because of the age difference, but the facts that Bruce is having sex with the daughter of Commissioner Gordon, his most trusted ally, and the girlfriend of Dick Grayson/Nightwing, his adoptive son and former protégé, as well that they have always been portrayed like having a father/daughter relationship, which makes the whole situation creepy.
    • What's worse is that the film's writer, Brian Azzarello, only included this because the producers knew that the film would be controversial like the graphic novel so they wanted to make it more controversial by adding this. That of course makes it hypocritical to do that and felt like all of the people who worked on the film had no experience about the graphic novel it's based on.
  4. While the film respects the design of the original comic to perfection, the design of some characters shows too many errors that make them feel out of place with the animation of the movie, such as the group of thugs or helpers freak.
    • However, the most striking and controversial design is that of Barbara Gordon since Batgirl is terribly sexualized in this film, in fact in the scenes in which she appears, such as conversations between characters or walking, the character is shown from an almost sexual perspective, which far from attracting the viewer's attention becomes uncomfortable [1].
      • It does not help that her sexual design over her appears more in the scene of the azotea with Batman.
  5. Changed or altered all the scenes from the comics:
    1. Jim Gordon was supposed to be angry after Batman rescued him, in the movie, he just feels depressed.
    2. Joker was supposed to smirk pulling the trigger on Barbara, in the movie, he just smiles while opening his teeth.
  6. Another unnecessary addition to the film is that rather than visiting the Joker to talk about their future, Batman goes to meet up with him for the discovery of grinning corpses he left in a crime scene years ago. Predictably, this plot point is never mentioned in the film afterward.
  7. Misleading title: Despite having the name "Batman" in the title, Batman isn't exactly the main character of the story, which focuses more on the Joker and on Batgirl to some degree. If this is anything to go by, the film should have been just titled The Killing Joke. Yes, this also happened in the original graphic novel, but still.
  8. Inaccurate credits: In the credits, the original material is credited to just Brian Bolland instead of Alan Moore, which can lead a viewer to believe that Brian Bolland wrote and illustrated the original graphic novel when Moore was the one who wrote it, though this is understandable given Moore's disownment to all film adaptations of his works.
  9. Just like in the graphic novel, in a similar case to Venom in Spider-Man 3, the Joker is never mentioned nor referenced by his name despite being the film's main antagonist.
  10. Barbara Gordon/Batgirl is a very unlikeable character in this movie since she and the Joker are the "real" main perspectives, but you can't too that.
  11. Possible(?) sequel-baiting: Barbara is now in her wheelchair and becomes Oracle with a computer, making this a needless Easter egg because the film never had any sequels nor planned any.

Good Qualities

  1. Good voice acting, namely that of Mark Hamill as the Joker and Kevin Conroy as Batman, reprising their well-known roles from Batman: The Animated Series.
    • Speaking about Hamill, he came back from retirement to voice the Joker in this movie despite his original intentions to leave the role after Batman: Arkham City though he did return previously for Batman: Arkham Knight. While Hamill went back on his word after this film and returned to voice the Joker in Justice League Action, he has kept his word somewhat and not played the Joker in any other film production, making this a nice send-off to Hamill as the Joker in film.
    • Likewise, Mark Hamill joined this movie as a passion project, so you can't be too harsh on something that someone dreamed so long to do.
  2. Good animation style for the film despite being cheap if it could have been more like Brian Bolland's artwork and John Higgins' psychedelic coloring.
  3. Some funny moments here and there, like those of Barbara's gay friend Reese despite his uselessness in the story.
  4. "I Go Looney" is a catchy song that has never been sound like in comic form.
  5. Despite being generic, it improved the original graphic novel in some ways. For example, the Joker's circus freaks were cowards in the graphic novel and ran away upon Batman's arrival, but here, they stay to protect their boss and fight Batman.
  6. The second half of the film is very faithful to the comics and are pretty good. It was only the first half that wasn't that great.


Critical response

Batman: The Killing Joke received mixed reviews from critics, audiences and fans, with the unnecessary prologue and its portrayal of Batgirl being criticized, while the animation style, action scenes, voice performances (particularly Conroy and Hamill's) and the second half of the film being generally faithful to the graphic novel receiving praise. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 40% rating, based on 40 reviews. The critical consensus reads "This stilted retelling of the Joker's origin adds little to its iconic source material, further diminished by some questionable story additions that will have fans demanding justice for Barbara Gordon". Criticism mainly focused on the unnecessary Batgirl prologue, the infamous sex scene between Batman and Batgirl and the adaptation of the source material. However, Mark Hamill's vocal performance as the Joker was widely acclaimed by most viewers, considering his reprisal of the role as one of the best performances of his career.

Box office

The movie grossed fairly well for its short theatrical release, earning $4.4. million against a production budget of $3.5 million. It did sell well in its home video release as well, earning $2,910,693 from domestic DVD sales and $5,743,188 from domestic Blu-ray sales, bringing a total of $8,653,881 for its domestic home video earnings.


  • An animated R-rated adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke was nearly made by Bruce Timm back in 2009, but the project's development stalled after two weeks due to the under-performance of the film adaptation of Alan Moore's Watchmen. There was also an early animated design (only in a blue pencil sketch) for the Joker that was different in the finished product.
  • Due to the sex scene as the relationship between Batman and Batgirl, many users began to design various romantic or sexual fanfics between the characters inspired by what happened in this movie
    • This was also reflected with many users designing quite a few Rule 34 images with the two characters.

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