DC Animation is poised to release The Killing Joke: An animated version of one of the most iconic Batman stories of all time.
There are only a few truly iconic Batman stories; and The Killing Joke stands tall amongst them. A 1988 one-shot written by Alan Moore, it truly reinvented our perception of The Joker; from the wacky ‘crown prince of crime’ to a ruthless, murdering psychopath who threatened everything we held dear.
For years, DC Animation has toyed with the idea of turning The Killing Joke into an animated feature, but always chickened out. After all, could you blame them? Filed in the same drawer as ‘women in refridgerators’, the Killing Joke was the subject of a lot of accusation of mysoginy when it was released; and has drawn even more ire these days.
But yet, as a story, it’s masterful, if horrific. It tells the tale of The Joker trying to convince the world that anybody could be like him – all it takes is ‘one really bad day.’ And, to prove that point, he kidnaps Commissioner Gordon, strips him naked, and tries to break his hold on reality the same way his was broken all those years ago.
The most controversial scene has to be when the Joker bursts into the apartment of Barbara Gordon – Jim’s daughter, and secretly Batgirl. Shooting her in the spine with a Colt .45, The Joker paralyses Barbara in the comic continuity; giving birth to her alter-ego of ‘The Oracle’, but also making us all address the very un-comic reality of all this comic book violence.
It’s the sort of tale that traditional logic argues would be difficult to tell in cartoon format – but DC Animation has been doing masterful work of late. Their version of The Dark Knight Returns proved that complicated, adult subject matter could be addressed in animated format; so The Killing Joke seemed ripe for the same treatment.
And all that waiting had some advantages. Coming out of retirement for this animation are the two voice-actor icons of the animated Batman universe – Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. While other actors have done a great job in recent movies, an iconic movie like this deserved nothing less than iconic voice acting to support it; and you couldn’t have asked for anybody else except these two.
I’m hugely excited to see how this all pans out. DC Animation definitely has my attention these days; and I’m hoping they can breath new life into one of the most classic Batman stories of all time.