I received my Blueray copy of The Killing Joke Tuesday. The film had already been screened at Comic Con and had a Fathom Event the previous week so it’s content and it’s controversy was already out there. I was trying hard to keep an open mind so in order to be fair to the film I decided to read the source material again before watching the film.
The original 48 page comic book set in motion a new path for the DC Universe. Because of The Killing Joke we gained Oracle as a character and also a paraplegic became super hero. It was a dynamic story told well and though you are wondering at the end if this is really the true beginning of The Joker you still walk away having experienced a terrific read.
The animated film version did a great job of adapting the source material and if that was all they had done this would have been a great film. But they had to get clever.
Batgirl has always been one of my favorite characters in the DC universe. She was originally created to attract more viewers to the Batman TV show of the 1960s. The shows ratings were beginning to falter at the end of the second season and the studio was hoping by adding a female character to the show it would attract more viewers. This actually didn’t work and at the end of the third season Batman came to a close as a live TV show. But Batgirl lived on.
Barbara Gordon was the daughter of Police commissioner James Gordon and secretly Batgirl. The relationship of father and daughter would add depth to the character for years to come. Her relationship to Bruce Batman Wayne , as the character grew in the comic books, was one of mentorship. She did have a relationship was Dick Grayson, or Robin but never with Batman. I don’t think Bruce as Batman had much of an ability for actual love. I think an in depth psychological profile of Bruce Batman Wayne is long overdue. Just exactly how does his obsession with stopping crime affect his relationships? My answer would be that he is almost incapable of relationships except where they align with his cause. This is why in The Killing Joke film with a brief sexual encounter with Batgirl is implausible.
The beginning of The Killing Joke is a new story that features Batman and Batgirl. The two are trying to bring down a mob boss. The Mob Boss is infatuated with Batgirl and so Batman tells here she is off the case. Batgirl ignores him almost gets killed and in a moment of anger the two have sex. The sex is not shown just Batgirl pulling off her top revealing her bra covered breasts. The story comes to its conclusion and the legitimate Killing Joke story begins.
I am not saying that the new part of the The Killing Joke was bad. The story was quite good it was the addition of language and sex that bothers me. Batman The Animated Series was loved by both kids and adults. It had a great way of appealing to both by making the stories deep for adults but action packed enough for kids. If they had done this with the Killing Joke I would have had much less of a problem with it.
The Killing Joke Starts with The Joker putting a bullet through Barbara Gordon’s spine and kidnapping Commissioner Gordon in order to drive him insane in a single day. This was enough to give it at minimal a PG 13 rating but DC wanted an R rating. I believe they feel they need to stay in competition with Marvel and the popularity of The Deadpool film forced their hand. But DC has characters that could be used in an R rated film. Both Lobo and The Specter come to mind.
DC is doing an incredible job with their television adventures, Arrow, Flash, Legends, Gotham and Supergirl are all great shows. They were also doing great in their direct to video series. I have enjoyed almost all of those. DC has nothing to prove to anyone. They don’t need to be controversial; in fact it hurts them when they are. They need to take their characters and keep them seeped in the stuff that made them great in the beginning. Superman fighting for truth justice and the American way and Batman as the obsessed avenger is a lot to work with.
The Killing Joke is a good movie. It just has elements in it that are not necessary. If DC would go back and take stand on doing good film work that everyone can enjoy they will rise to the top again.