Batman: The Killing Joke ★½


Alan Moore's The Killing Joke, released in 1988, was an influential comic at the time, but even its creator soon lambasted its violent, excessive attempt at diving into the crazed minds of heroes and villains. To quote Moore, "I don’t think that the world needs that many brooding psychopathic avengers". It's an ideal which DC abruptly ignores, trampling over the vibrant, kooky stories of Batman's golden age (Dick Sprang bringing color to full lucidity) in favor of Snyder's oppressive (although not without merit) vision. But The Killing Joke still had its attributes, mainly in Brian Holland's pristine illustrations and the demented final moment between Batman and the clown prince of crime. But in Batman: The Killing Joke, the 26th film in the DCU Animated Series, any positives gleamed from the original work is shit on (to put it mildly) to the point where the *only* saving grace is Mark Hamill's typically excellent portrait of The Joker.

Even Kevin Conroy, supporting the greatest version of Batman in the mid-90s television series, is a lifeless bore, snoring through his lines like he had a massive hangover after spending all day on the golf course. It's embarrassing because the source comic is beloved by many fans, and it further showcases that while DC may be onto something with buckling Snyder into the driver's seat, they have no idea how to handle these iconic characters. This animated film just furthers the disgusting female objectification, shoving in a lifeless mini-episode in order to make the adaptation feature-length. Even though The Killing Joke was seedy, even unforgivable in many ways, at least Moore's universe was vivid. It felt dirty and alive, a fit for the similarly reductive material. The animation in the DCU movie doesn't fit the style or tone in the slightest, and the writing sticks out all the more because of its lack of cohesion.

And the bat sex? It's wrong and out of place and DCU should be ashamed of themselves. Fucking ashamed. Bruce Timm's answer ("relationships are messy.") doesn't fix anything, it muddles the entire viewpoint from where this comic was adapted. It's sad to witness a popular comic receive such an awful treatment, but strangely enough, it feels like Bruce Timm and company believed that this is what the material deserved, and that's the scariest and funniest aspect of Batman: The Killing Joke. Somehow they even fucked up the ending, removing crucial details (like the headlights) and stripping the moment of its ambiguity. What happened to the animators who made Mask of the Phantasm or Return of the Joker?