One of my all time favorite comics I’ve read, and can easily quote, is Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, with illustrations by Brian Bolland. If you aren’t familiar with it, The Killing Joke was a one shot published by DC Comics in 1988, and has one of the most widely accepted backstories for the Joker, though the comic stresses it could just be one of many possible back stories. As the Joker says in the comic: ” If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!”
Now, for years, I’ve been hoping with every fiber of my being, that there would some day be a movie version, preferably something from Warner Bros Animation, to really capture some of the things that maybe wouldn’t translate as well with real settings. In my dream casting, I wanted my favorite Batman and favorite Joker – Kevin Conroy back in the cowl, and Mark Hamill returning as the Clown Prince of Crime. Last year, it was finally announced – not only would there be an animated movie of The Killing Joke, but it would be featuring the voice talents of Conroy and Hamill both! Top that off with Tara Strong returning as Batgirl, and knowing Michael Uslan and Bruce Timm were going to be Executive Producers – this has been one of the most highly anticipated Batman things I’ve had to look forward to.
So, of course, the second I found out they’d be showing it one night only at a theater an hour from my house, I bought tickets immediately. It’d mean having to go on a week night, after a long day at work, AFTER just getting back from a busy trip.
And it was so, so worth it.
Despite the various people on the internet with nothing better to do than whine about literally anything, it was glorious. Sure, there was controversial added content to the beginning of the film, a little backstory with Batman and Batgirl that has everyone up in arms. But you know what? I don’t mind. Did I hate it? No. Did I love it? Also no. But did I understand why they made that choice? Absolutely. It added a whole new level of emotional impact to a later scene, a scene from the comic, while also giving Batgirl some more action before her tragedy.
But more importantly – they didn’t alter the story line of The Killing Joke to add that filler. The running time would have been too short without some sort of extras, but instead of really tampering with the story so many fans know and love, they just gave us an extra backstory before. And I really appreciate that. I didn’t want them to add gobs of extra parts to the horrors Jim Gordon suffers, or the flashbacks the Joker has, or the journey into the Joker’s darkness that Batman travels. It was all perfect on it’s own.
I’m not surprised to hear this is now the largest Fanthom Event ever, and highest profile release of any DC’s animated releases. I wasn’t a lone Nerd Girl eagerly anticipating this story finally coming to life. I was surrounded in a packed theater with other Batfans, waiting to see this moment of Batman history. I was particularly happy with the interview beforehand with Mark Hamill, and the documentary after talking about the music composition for the film. It was everything my nerdy little heart wanted and then some.
I’ll definitely be picking up The Killing Joke when it releases on DVD and Blu-Ray. I’ll re-watch it and still love it, and appreciate it for what it is – a gift to fans like me, that wanted those voice actors, and wanted this story, and appreciate all the care that went into the execution of it. Internet haters be damned.