Batman: The Killing Joke Review
Did you know one bad day is all it takes to separate us from The Joker? Scary thought, huh? One, single, bad day and the mind just goes. And if you don’t know it now, you will know it by the end of The Killing Joke, but I am getting ahead of myself. So for those who do not know, DC animated have been putting out amazing Batman movies for years. When I say amazing, I mean, better than DC’s movie movies. Genuinely said, with no disrespect meant to the company at all. They know they can be more direct with their animated adaptations as oppose to their big budget movies, so genuine Batman fans often find themselves liking the animated movies more. That said, the Killing Joke is one of DC’s most ambitious undertakings yet (and yes, they made full length movies for BOTH Dark Knight comics) and having just finished watching it, I can tell you what I loved and what I didn’t. But know, it is 99% love and 1 % whiny fanboy, and we all know how the 1% generally fare.
To tell you the story of The Killing Joke is to ruin the story of the Killing Joke. All you need to know is this is NOT Batman: Year One. This is a Batman who has had Robin killed by The Joker. This is a Batman who has had to face most of the Joker’s worst acts, and is getting burnt out on all of The Joker’s bullshit. But what MANY misunderstand is that they think Killing Joke is a Batman story. It is not. It is a Joker story, through and through. It tells us how he came to be (no questions asked) and even leave us wondering what dark direction things just really went after it ends. This is not your Father’s DC. There is implied rape, there are bloody headshots, this the R-rated Batman many fans have clamored for forever. Hopefully the simple fact that it is animated will not keep people from watching it, as it is an amazing experience for any fan of Batman (or every closeted fan of the Joker). That said, it is not without it’s flaws, though they are almost too small to even bring up.
The movie tacked on a character with a Batgirl obsession that any fan of the graphic novel can tell you was put in to pad space and didn’t do anything to benefit the overall story. But thankfully, it was clear they knew that, too, as it all quickly gets forgotten in the shocking (and amazing) second half of the movie. Again, to tell you anymore would ruin it. There is also a sort of forced relationship angle they run with for a second but thankfully reign it in quickly. Like I said, my quips were minor at best. I would have also liked a more resolute ending (fans who read The Killing Joke know what I am talking about) but to expect The Killing Joke to offer a definitive ending would take away some of the fun and dark ambiguity of the story here.
Overall, though, the animation is superb and the voice acting is top notch. All I have to say is Mark Hamill reprises his role as The Joker and the crowd goes wild, with good reason. This is one of the sickest Jokers we have ever seen yet (no, THE sickest, actually) and the movie earns its R-rating. I had to watch it at home, but there are some theaters in major cities running it on the big screen, so look around and see if it is playing near you, I wish I could have watched it on a movie screen myself. Outside of a few missteps that were few and far-between, The Killing Joke is and will always remain the greatest Batman/Joker story ever told. This films only solidifies that.
One final thing, please note the sick Heath Ledger Easter Egg I found. The exact pose and outfit Heath had on for the Joker reveal on the cover of Empire. Well played, DC animated. Well played.