Greetings everybody and welcome to Animated Anarchy where we’ll be covering a true piece of cartoon carnage with The Killing Joke.
We can’t help but talk about the massive influence of the DC Universe after the tidal wave of pop culture known as Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Despite the overwhelming backlash against the film, the desire for a large DC Universe is at an all time high almost to the point of overexposure relying on Batman’s universe alone. As terrible I believe BvS is, I can’t help but think the creation of The Killing Joke as an animated film wouldn’t be possible without our current atmosphere. In the never-ending search for gritty, mature tales of superheroes; we might as well focus on one of the greatest paradigm shifts in the comic book industry.
The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Brian Bolland, is a landmark graphic novel. It’s the definitive origin story of The Joker revitalized from the 1951 “Red Hood” storyline that bought his manic, chaotic nature to all new heights of dangerous insanity. We understood the full effect of Batman as a mirror image to the Joker, solidifying his role as his true arch-nemesis. We read through the vicious crippling of Barbara Gordon and even questioned if the Batman killed the Joker by the end of the book. And after this historic take on the villain, you can see the inspiration in his cold-hearted psychopathic take in Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum series and Tim Burton’s film adaptation of Batman in 1989.
Now in today’s pop culture world, The Joker is going through an interesting metamorphosis through various mediums. People are curious to see if Jared Leto can be a unique take on the Joker through Suicide Squad and Zack Galifinakis will take a crack at the character in The LEGO Batman Movie. The New 52’s revision of the DC Universe is suggestion that The Joker may be some type of “ancient embodiment of chaos” to much fans’ chagrin including a huge event planned to unveil his real name. Now is the perfect time to remind everyone how the frightening, murderous vision of everyone favorite Batman villain got his start.
Off the bat, I’m excited as anyone else who loves Bruce Timm involvement. Batman: The Animated Series is my favorite interpretation of Batman down to nearly every single character-defining episode. Batman: TAS has the perfect amount of focused, noir-detective work with the bombastic action and over-the-top villainy perfect for all audiences. This series encapsulates the perfect amount of balance I believe that makes Batman flawed, but relatable in his ongoing pursuit of justice.
That reflects so well on Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and The Joker, respectively. Conroy’s Batman is calm and calculating, always aware of the magnitude of his situation but relaxed enough to appreciate the good things in life. On the other side of the coin, Hamill absolutely nails the right blend of deranged madness sprinkled with comedy and hair-brained schemes.
I really like the direction Warner Bros. is taking by adding a prelude with Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. The attack just happens in the comic to make it all the more shocking, but the buildup will make it all the more effective in film. I’m generally not a fan of Tara Strong’s forced zaniness with Harley Quinn, but I like that she’s taking a more grounded, lowkey approach voicing Batgirl. Ray Wise as Jim Gordon is also really cool casting as his age and range is going to be really effective throughout the story.
The possible limitations of the film will depend on if the film is going to rated PG-13 or R as many fans have wanted. I’m inclined to go with the mature rating because of how dark the source material gets, but you could make a lot of the more graphic scenes implied. Debatably, Batman v. Superman and the recently animated Justice League: Gods and Monsters have more violence and adult content than The Killing Joke. But that level of physicality and mental suffering depends on how much they follow the Brian Bolland’s art from scene to scene.
According to the footage, director Sam Liu has said they’ll be going for an “in-between” Bolland’s strikingly grotesque but realistic style, combined with the subdued exaggerations of Batman: TAS. He’s noted Kevin Nowlan’s artwork works as a strong representative between the two aesthetics. You can’t help but notice that the animation does emphasize the Bolland’s work quite a bit, giving more of that glassy-eyed, terrifying, carnival visage of The Joker that has never been 100% matched in live action.
Personally, I have no idea what DC is going to do with their numerous IPs in long run as the investment in Dawn of Justice and continuous reboots in the comics is proving to be quite unstable. But aside from Teen Titans Go!, I know the animated universe can stay safe and pitch perfect covering their universe as they’ve done for the past two decades. The Killing Joke is going to be one of many animated interpretations of the universe, but I believe it may be the most important for reaching out into the mainstream.
So what are your thoughts? Happy The Killing Joke is finally getting it’s due or does DC need to slow down before their next big venture? Leave a comment below as Animated Anarchy prepares for the Gotham’s destruction once again!