One of the most famous — and controversial — Batman comics of all time is being made into a movie. In fact, the story is so dark, it’s going to be the first-ever R-rated Batman film.
“Batman: The Killing Joke,” an animated feature film adaptation of the original 1988 comic, is getting a special one-day limited release in theatres on Monday, July 25 (find out which theatres it’s playing at here). The movie comes out on blu-Ray on August 2.
Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy and are voicing the Joker and Batman, respectively, in the new film, The pair played the characters in in the animated series, and for many are the definitive Joker and Batman, so it’s great that they’re returning for “The Killing Joke,” though it’s not in the same continuity as the TV show.
The original comic, which was written by Alan Moore and drawn by Brian Bolland, is one of the most iconic Batman stories of all time, for better or worse.
Why is “The Killing Joke” so infamous, and why is the movie rated R? Well, the story is dark. Like, really dark.
This is the comic where — spoilers — the Joker paralyzes Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, and it’s heavily implied that he rapes her as well. This was a really dark and edgy period for comics, and while the mature tone led to some masterpieces, the legacy that stories like “The Killing Joke” and “The Dark Knight Returns” left had a major, not-all-good influence on modern comics.
For decades, mainstream comics have been overcorrecting the conception that “comics are just for kids,” and while that approach was novel when “The Killing Joke” and its ilk were written, it’s suffocating and redundant in 2016. Plus, the misogyny stands out just a little bit more.
To put it another way, if you loved that the Caped Crusader in “Batman v Superman” was a grim murderer living in a crapsack world with no room for childish ideas like “happiness” or “hope,” you should thank stories like “The Killing Joke,” because they’re indirectly responsible.
“Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” has also been made into an animated movie.
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