Batgirl’s Expanded Role in The Killing Joke Adaptation is Receiving Major Blowback

Saturday, 23 July 2016 - 10:43AM
DC Comics
The Killing Joke
Saturday, 23 July 2016 - 10:43AM
Batgirl’s Expanded Role in The Killing Joke Adaptation is Receiving Major Blowback
Over the years, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's critically acclaimed and bestselling work, The Killing Joke, has received some amount of criticism for alleged misogynistic elements. When it was reported that DC had decided to make an animated adaptation, they also made it clear that they hoped to fix these issues with the film. However, now that the film has premiered at SDCC, it seems that DC Animation might be learning a new lesson: trying to fix what isn't broken is much more trouble than it's worth.

First of all, claims of sexism in The Killing Joke are based upon the idea that Barbara Gordon, who is shot, stripped, and photographed by the Joker in the comic, plays the part of the powerless woman and is relegated to simply being a plot point. Internet debates have raged over the years about whether or not these elements of the story are actually sexist or just the ultimate example of the Joker's cruelty.   

Whichever way you look at it, DC's efforts to cover their bases and ensure all Batman/Batgirl fans would be happy with the adaptation seems to have backfired. The way they decided to give Barbara Gordon more importance in the film was not only to add in additional scenes, but to make her be in a romantic relationship with Batman. In fact, this leaked clip shows that the two even have a sex scene, which both of them feel weird about after, causing turmoil in their professional relationship of kicking the crap out of bad guys.





Seeing as how Batgirl has always started out her crimefighting career underage, this makes Bruce seem just a bit pervy. Sure, she's older by the time The Killing Joke takes place, but think about the fact that Bruce has likely watched her grow into a woman and fall in love with his first sidekick, Dick Grayson. Keeping that in mind, this seems incredibly, terribly, egregiously weird. It also seems like a really, really bad cop out. It's as if someone asked, "how can we make Barbara more important in the movie?" And then someone answered with, "Oh, we can make her screw Batman!" That's some really innovative and sound thinking there, guys. Could they seriously not find a more creative way to give Babs a bigger role than making her screw Batman? How creative of you, DC.

Twitter has been filled with fan outrage over the change. Likewise, while diving into a YouTube comments section usually results in losing brain cells, you can't help but notice that just about no one over there is in favor of this relationship taking place in the film. The clip has almost twice as many thumbs down than thumbs up.

While this same type of relationship was explored to some degree in the comic world of Batman Beyond a couple years back, it's a totally out of character thing to have Bruce (and Barbara) do, especially in a work so highly influential and renowned as The Killing Joke.

In the end, this is what you get when you try to alter a masterpiece. Alan Moore has been against anyone adapting his works for a long, long time, and even though DC owns the rights to the story, it's incredibly easy to see why Moore feels as he does now. Hopefully the rest of the film sticks a bit closer to the source material and the whole thing doesn't turn out to be as disappointing as this particular element of it. Either way, it's pretty clear at this point that the additions to the story won't be what makes this film a good one. On the other hand, they could very much be the deciding factor in making it a bad one.
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Comic Book Movies
DC Comics
The Killing Joke

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