The Killing Joke Movie Will Try to Fix That Big Controversy from the Comics

Friday, 15 April 2016 - 2:00PM
DC Comics
Batman
The Killing Joke
Friday, 15 April 2016 - 2:00PM
The Killing Joke Movie Will Try to Fix That Big Controversy from the Comics
The Killing Joke is considered one of the best Batman stories of all time, but one element of the comic is extremely controversial, namely, the treatment of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl. So when the upcoming animated adaptation was announced (and recently confirmed) to be rated R, many socially conscious fans were concerned that the film would be faithful to the comic in the worst way. But now, a new report claims that a significant addition to the story will flesh out Barbara's character, and make the adaptation at least a little more feminist than the comic.

The Killing Joke graphic novel sees the Joker kidnap and sexually humiliate Barbara Gordon to provoke her father, Commissioner Gordon, and then paralyze her with a gunshot wound to the back. Many fans have cited this as an example of "fridging" female characters, and objected to a strong hero like Batgirl being used solely as a pawn to impact the storyline of male characters. As a result, The Killing Joke is arguably one of the most controversial comics of all time.

Since the film is supposed to be a "faithful" adaptation, it seemed as though this treatment of the character would remain the same, but that appears not to be the case. While the violent acts against Barbara are important to the story and will likely remain mostly faithful, her character will reportedly receive her own expanded storyline so the violence ceases to be offensive.

When DC Comics first announced the film, they said it would "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." Now, Hitfix has confirmed with inside sources that the prologue will be focused on developing Barbara's character, so her scenes with the Joker have more context than just the cat-and-mouse game with Jim Gordon:

Opening quote
"My source has confirmed that 15-minute prologue is Batgirl's story. The prologue allows the audience to invest themselves in Barbara as a character before her moment with the Joker. Hopefully, Batgirl gets a more active role throughout the film! While my source didn't elaborate on how Batman: The Killing Joke would approach Batgirl's maiming and sexual assault at the hands of the Joker, merely making her a fully-fledged person is a huge step in the right direction. Hopefully."
Closing quote

We'll have to see how this plays out, but this seems like great news. Violence against women in fiction isn't inherently offensive; even when it's sexualized, it can lead to important and feminist stories being told (just look at Jessica Jones). But context is everything, and if the character is developed adequately, then the violence will cease to be offensive and, just on a storytelling level, will make the plot point more emotionally affecting.

The Killing Joke movie will premiere at SDCC, and then will arrive on home video sometime in 2016.
Science Fiction
Comic Book Movies
DC Comics
Batman
The Killing Joke

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