Batman: The Killing Joke
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.
- The film 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.
- 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 How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Lorax. 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").
- 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 Brian Azzarello, the film's writer, 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.
- 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.
- Bad grasp to the source material, as at one point, Batman meets up with some prostitutes who had slept with the Joker, which feels like a total "out of character" moment, as the Joker has always been implied to be asexual in the comic books.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A pointless mid-credits scene in which Barbara becomes Oracle, making this a needless Easter egg because the film never had any sequels nor planned any.
- 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.
- 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.
- Good animation for the film.
- Some funny moments here and there, like those of Barbara's gay friend Reese despite his uselessness in the story.
- "I Go Looney" is a catchy song.
- 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.
- 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 good.
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.
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 Watchmen.