It was announced last week that Batman: The Killing Joke is the first-ever R-Rated DC original animated movie. The comic book was created by Alan Moore, and has long been debated by fans. It certainly is a divisive piece of art. And some call it the best Joker story ever written. Today, we have word that the animated feature will be making a significant change from the source material. And it sounds like it might not upset fans as these changes often do.
The Killing Joke dives deep into The Joker‘s dark psyche. The iconic DC villain decides to torment Batman by kidnapping Barbara Gordon and torturing her. Some believe that the poor treatment of Barbara at the hands of the Joker is too much for this fantasy world, while others deem it necessary violence that helps establish the Clown Prince as the baddest man in Gotham. Now, it sounds like this animated feature might tweak that notion ever so slightly.
As previously announced, The Killing Joke will include a fifteen minute prologue that was not included in the comic book. We’ll get to see Barbara Gordon in her Batgirl costume, something that doesn’t happen in the original source material. This adaptation of the story is fleshing out Gordon’s arc, and will make her more of an integral part of the story instead of an after thought. Many believe Barabra is only included in the original comic book to help further the storyline of the two men at its center, The Joker and Bruce Wayne.
As confirmed by Hitfix, the new, never-before-seen 15 minute prologue will be Batgirl’s story, and hers alone. It will allow the audience to become invested in her as a character, before her big brutal moments with The Joker play out. It isn’t known if she will also have a more active role in the second half of the movie. It isn’t yet known how this animated feature will handle the maiming and sexual assault of Barbara Gordon at the hands of The Joker. Here’s what the official press release has to say about Batman: The Killing Joke and its R rating.
“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has accepted the MPAA’s “R” rating for its upcoming animated film, Batman: The Killing Joke, choosing to remain true to the landmark DC Comics graphic novel’s violent, controversial story, and making the film the first non-PG/PG-13 rated movie in the nine-year history of the DC Universe Original Movie franchise. At this time, there are no plans for an edited, PG-13 version of the film. The animated adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke is executive produced by Bruce Timm and will retell this classic tale in an exciting new way. It’ll also feature an original 15-minute prologue that helps set up the story, giving even longtime fans of the story something new to look forward to.”
During Comic-Con last year, producer Bruce Timm claimed that the extra 15 minute prologue was in place because the source material was too short for a 90 minute feature. The creative team had to add new story elements to make it more in-depth. But it seems there was a second agenda behind the prologue as well. Bruce Timm and his team are well aware of the backlash surrounding this classic tale. And they are trying to rectify that. We’ll have to wait until it arrives later in the year to see how fans respond to this new tweak. The movie will make its world premiere at San Diego Comic-Con this July.