Warning: piece contains minor plot spoilers for Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke”
We live in a golden age of superhero movies my friends, but if you’re reading this, you probably already knew that. My point however, is It feels like all of this comes in degrees. just because there was a time in which the idea that having The entire crew of the avengers not only getting thier own movies, but teaming up in one giant monumental blockbuster was considered a fan-boy dream, far beyond our possible comprehension, that doesn’t mean that there’s no room left to be surprised that certain comic book things are actually happening. Even in a world with Jessica Jones on Netflix and Batman, Superman and Wonder-Woman teaming up in live action for the first time in their 75 year existence, I’m not alone when I almost refused to believe the announcement that Bruce Timm, Mark Hammil, and Kevin Conroy, known by many as an untouchable dream team of the DC animated universe, were working together to adapt Comic Icon Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke” to an animated feature film.
Mark Hammil (Right) and Kevin Conroy (Left) Officially cast In “The Killing Joke” as Joker and Batman respectively.
Now knowledge of this film’s potential development has been back and forth for several years, but we only found out less than a year ago that this was not only 100% green lit, but the DC Holy Trio would be heading the project. The impact of this project being done this way by these people has definitely drawn a lot of attention from DC super fans. Mark Hammil to this day has one of the most recognized portrayals of the Joker known to man. Both making their debut in 1992’s critically acclaimed Batman: the Animated series, Kevin Conroy (Batman) and
Mark Hammill (The Joker) have played their respective roles longer than any other actor in history, clocking in at just over 20 years. Bruce Timm, Director of the Killing Joke and one of the original Creators of Batman: the Animated series, produced and Co-created the longest running multi show continuity in the history of television, spanning so long that fans and official sources have grown to referring to this inter-continuity as “The Timmverse”. as for the Impact of Alan Moore, Creator of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and Co-creator of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, he’s one of the most Iconic and recognized individual comic creator’s in the history of the medium. with this many powerhouses of creativity combined into one project, one could only imagine great things, but as a certain Marvel character once said, “with great power comes great responsibility”
While not much is known yet about the project, but during an interview with Comicbook.com, Bruce Timm had this to say about the project.
Bruce Timm: Co- Creator of Batman: the Animated Series
“Whenever we do an adaptation of a really famous iconic comic… we try to stay very faithful to the comic, to the source material, as much as possible,” Timm said. “Killing Joke is a really tricky property because it’s really bleak, but we made a decision early on that if we’re gonna do it, then we kinda have to just jump in and just do it. The one big difference about it… is The Killing Joke, the source material is really not long enough to make an entire feature film out of, so we actually had to add a lot more story to it. Which is tricky,” Timm continued. “But I think we came up with a really good solution on how that worked, and beyond that I can’t really say anything more until July, or whenever it comes out.”
Now this still leaves a lot of speculation as to what they will in fact change or keep the same in the same bleak, bloody, and insanely dark state that it was always in, and for a lot of fans, that’s all the confirmation they need to buy their copy. for some however, the news of them deciding to add additional content is definitely one to draw both curiosity and criticism. While everyone knows adaptation does require things to change, to a lot of Comic fans, the work of Alan Moore is practically next to scripture and the modifying of which is borderline nerd blasphemy. however their reasoning for changes is what I find the most interesting. Timm points specifically to the length of the original graphic novel as a reason for adding completely new content to fill in a full feature running time. with the original graphic novel being only 48 pages long, one can quickly see why expansion might be needed. while there is definitely room in the confines of the story for expansion, the only hint we get to what form that might come in is a fifteen minute, completely original, prologue that helps set up the story. According to Timm, it “(gives) even longtime fans of the story something new to look forward to.” I’d speculate this most likely will come as an extension of the long visual credit sequences often opening these pictures, but this one offering a deeper context to the specifics of the relationship between this Joker and this Batman, as that relationship is a major component of the story.
As for things that might outright be changed, it’s mostly speculation at this point. one thing I personally am curious about is how they plan to handle “the Barbara Gordon Rape Controversy”. While several aspects of The Killing joke have been taken into the mainstream cannon in the past, the most prominent one is Barbara Gordon’s transition in to Oracle. in The Killing Joke, Joker shoots Barbara Gordon in the spine and paralyzes her from the waste down, takes several grueling pictures of her, and then kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and attempts to turn him insane within 24 Hours. the crux of the controversy in question is the fact it is clearly implied (and later confirmed by Alan Moore himself) that after Joker shots her, he removes her clothes and rapes during the taking of the photos. now while the impact of this book cannot be understated, and many comic fans have become more sensitive than ever to these issues, (made all the more relevant with DC’s removal of last years Batgirl #41 variant cover by Rafael Albuquerque) Bruce Timm and his creative team definitely have their work cut out for them.
(top and Center) Excerpt pages from the Killing Joke. (bottom) Cancelled Variant cover of Batgirl #41.
Leaving on a speculative, yet positive note, the thing i’m happiest to pull from this interview is that Bruce Timm confirms their confidence in their convictions. He makes it clear that no matter where they plant their feet on issues of controversial content, length, or adaptation, The seem confident that the decisions they make will be theirs alone, exiled from fans demanding they land on one side of the fence or the other. If we’re being honest with ourselves, there is not a group of filmmakers alive that could make a Killing Joke movie that will be accepted by everybody, but with a crew like this at the helm, I think this movie is in good hands.
While no public release date is yet known, The Killing Joke will make it’s debut at San Diego Comic con this summer.
Ken Johnson is a Writer and Podcaster best known for his book series “The Man who Watched Batman”, and In depth Analysis of Batman: the Animated series.
If you’d like to know more about Ken Johnson or his other work, you can check him out online at the links below.
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