The Killing Joke is easily one of the best Batman comics of all time, providing backstory for The Joker while containing his philosophy and creating the Oracle character which would become an integral part of other Batman related content (most notably the Arkham Games).
Fans have wanted a film of this for years and when they announced that this film would be coming out, rated R, with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill things all seemed to be in place. But something wasn’t quite right.
Bad stuff first, well there’s only really one thing. Why was there so much focus on Barbara Gordon? Yes we understand why her character is so important, especially her history with this comic, but did we need 30 minutes dedicated to a new story line where she hangs up her cowl? We already knew this would happen and I found myself genuinely bored when we went back to her librarian job for the 3rd time thinking ‘just get to the Joker already’.
As soon as the actual Killing Joke adaptation started the entire tone of the film changed for the better. The music was different, the lighting changed, the shots were longer and the movie got considerably better.
I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ but here we go. The book this is based on is better, not because it has more detail (which it doesn’t), or because the characters are more developed (which they aren’t) but because it has the soul of what we consider to be the modern Batman. This comic was made in a post Dark Knight Returns world and is part of the very core of why Batman and The Joker are so popular nowadays. The eternal question of The Joker is ‘Why aren’t you laughing?’ because to him everyone is as insane as he is but they just won’t admit it. Making a valid point that a man who dresses up like a bat and beating up people is more insane than anything he’s ever done (debatable).
We can all agree that Mark Hamill is the voice of The Joker. People like Ledger but everyone and everyone’s cousin love Mark Hamill and there is not a bad thing to say about his performance at all, you hang on every syllable so much so that I closed my eyes at times and his voice shook me to my very core. Masterful voice work. The same can be said of Kevin Conroy, the best Batman voice of all time and even though Barbara is a tad unnecessary Tara Strong once again proved why she’s one of the brightest stars of her industry.
This film has not, as some idiots on twitter have said, devalued the source material and although this is not a masterpiece like other Batman/DC animated films it’s still very enjoyable with a great cast, great characters and an unforgettable story.