For those that are still reeling from the nightmarish interpretation of the Dark Knight we received in Zach Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the first look at the animated Batman: The Killing Joke must offer a feeling of relief.
First announced at Comic-Con in 2015, Batman: The Killing Joke is an adaption of the infamous graphic novel by comic legend Alan Moore with iconic artwork from Brian Bolland.
Written as a standalone story in 1988, not intended to affect the Batman continuity, The Killing Joke tells of a modern-day Joker breakout of Arkham Asylum. Far from being a derivative story about another instance of Batman/Joker cat-and-mouse, The Killing Joke is remembered for 2 things.
Firstly, it trod the delicate ground of the Joker’s origin story. Told in intermittent flashbacks that periodically break up the narrative, the Joker’s origin story is a darkly confused memory that could be one of many in the Joker’s fractured psyche.
Secondly, it courted controversy in its treatment of fan favourite Barbara Gordon, A.K.A. Batgirl, when the Joker paralysed her from the waist down. Ultimately this became folded into the mainstream canon when Barbara Gordon took up the role of Oracle.
The translation of The Killing Joke from comic book to animated film required filling the story out. In order to do this, and add gravitas to Barbarba’s final fate, director Sam Liu has included a prologue that explores the character of Batgirl to a greater extent than the graphic novel did. It also appears to be faithful adaption that doesn’t pull any punches, with talk of it needing an R-rating for its horrific content.
For Batman aficionados, the return of the cast of the highly popular cast of Batman: The Animated Series will be a welcome sight. Kevin Conroy will be returning as Batman and Mark Hamill will return a final time to voice the Joker; a portrayal which is considered by many fans to be more definitive than Heath Ledger‘s. Also joining the cast is Tara Strong as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl and Ray Wise as Commissioner Gordon.
Batman: The Killing Joke has a vague release date of Summer 2016 and you can view the trailer and the featurette below.