Warner Brothers Permits the Production of An R-Rated Killing Joke Adaption

Saturday, 10 October 2015 - 1:18PM
DC Comics
Batman
The Killing Joke
Saturday, 10 October 2015 - 1:18PM
Warner Brothers Permits the Production of An R-Rated Killing Joke Adaption
At the New York Comic Con panel for the next DC Animated film 'Batman: Bad Blood,' it was announced by producer James Tucker that the upcoming animated adaption of the Killing Joke has been given permission by Warner Bros. to proceed with an R rating. He also stated, however, that just because they can make it an R-rated movie doesn't mean that they will.

The Killing Joke is one of the most popular Batman comics of all time and was created by the famed author Alan Moore and illustrated quite capably by Brian Bolland. It's one of the only Batman stories to be "suggested for mature readers," with most others falling under the "teen" category. Those who've read the book can surely guess why the animated adaption would be on the borderline of receiving a more mature rating by the MPAA.

The story's premise centers on the Joker and one of his potential origins as a failed comic who briefly turned to crime to support his family. His one day on the job was also the worst day of his life, as it turns out that he was "the fall guy" for the Red Hood Gang and ended up falling into a vat of acid, changing his life forever. The story also centers on the Joker trying to prove that one bad day can turn anyone bad by showing up on Jim Gordon's doorstep, shooting Barbara Gordon through the spine, stripping her and photographing her, and then kidnapping Jim Gordon. Later, the Joker takes the Commissioner on an amusement park ride where the Clown Prince of Crime presents the photos of his daughter's naked, paralyzed body to Gordon.

Of course, the the Joker's attempts to turn the Commissioner insane fail miserably, and Batman shows up to save the day. The final pages of the book detail the Caped Crusader's attempts to get the Joker to end this maddening, endless dance they've been engaged in for so long. The ending panels of the comic have long been controversial, as it seems to be open to interpretation about whether or not Batman kills the Joker. Of course, canonically speaking, he didn't. Yet it's been a mystery for some time as to whether or not that's what Moore was intending to show when he wrote the book. Seeing how the animated movie interprets this scene should be interesting!

There's also been quite the controversy arise over the Joker paralyzing Barbara Gordon in the book. Some have suggested that it's sexist that a strong, female superhero would be presented as incapable of protecting herself. However, the Joker did torture and kill the second Robin, Jason Todd, just a few years before the book came out. So it's not necessarily a statement about female superheroes being more incapable of protecting themselves than their male counterparts, but rather a testament to the cruelty and madness of a character like the Joker.

This controversy sprang up again just months ago when a Batgirl variant cover was pulled due to it's reference to the book, where it presented the super heroine frightened and sobbing as the Joker held her in his clutches. This crossed a line for many people, with multiple individuals interpreting the cover as implying a sexual assault was involved. Because of this ordeal, it came as somewhat of a surprise when DC announced at San Diego Comic Con that there was an animated adaption of the Killing Joke in the works.

Without doubt, how the movie handles the issue with Barbara Gordon will surely be the main factor in whether or not it receives an R rating. The book was not explicit with her nudity, but it does make it perfectly clear as to what the Joker did. Most of DC's other animated movies have been PG-13, and though they're aiming at a more mature audience, they're still wanting to get the younger generation to see the product as well. In other words, it wouldn't be surprising to see the material toned down a bit if it means they're able to get a PG-13 rating. Hopefully, they'll focus more on faithfully adapting the source material instead of what the MPAA says, however.

The legendary Mark Hamill will be reprising his role as the Joker for the movie. It seems likely that Kevin Conroy will come back for the feature as well, but there's no definite answer to that as of yet (neither of the actors have worked on the most recent DC animated films). Likewise, there's no official release date as for now, but you can expect to see it out sometime in 2016. You won't want to miss it!
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The Killing Joke
Warner Bros Permits the Production of R-Rated Killing Joke Adaption
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