When Batman: The Killing Joke was announced as the latest addition to the DC Universe Animated Original Movie franchise, fans were psyched. Not only was the direct-to-video animated film the first R-rated feature in the DC movie universe, but Warner Bros. Animation also promised a film that "authentically represented" Alan Moore's divisive tale and gave Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) more agency. Great! However, the result was a disappointment.
Where The Killing Joke succeeded in giving Barbara more of a presence in the story, it failed in its sloppy execution. In order to expand Moore's story to feature-film length — the original 1988 graphic novel is only 64 pages long — the film added an entirely new prologue featuring Barbara and her crush on her mentor Batman, who also talks down to her throughout the movie. Eventually, the sexual tension between the two mounts to the point where they get into an argument and then proceed to have sex on a roof. (We're 100 percent serious.)
And misogyny and "batsplaining" are only the start of the film's problems. Needless to say, the folks over at Honest Trailers didn't hold back in their scathing takedown of The Killing Joke, a film that also stars a "generic mob boss, his dumb nephew with his dumb nephew name, and a '90s sitcom writer's idea of a gay person." Yikes.
Once again, DC has mistaken sexual violence and darkness for maturity. But this one is especially a bummer because for years, DC has been making animated films that have resonated emotionally with fans, and oftentimes these adaptations are far better — and more faithful to the source material — than their live-action counterparts.
Better luck next time, we guess.