It turns out that R-rated extended home-version of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t the only Batman movie with MPAA restrictions. Batman: The Killing Joke, the upcoming direct-to-DVD animated film based on Alan Moore’s comic book of the same name, has also been given the once-dreaded 17-and-older rating. This marks the first DC Universe Original Movie to receive an R.
EW reported on the news. There are currently no plans on changing the rating at the moment, so it looks like this is here to stay. Considering the animation sub-branch has always catered more towards fans than wide audiences, it makes sense for them to go all in and give this one the violent, no-holds-barred treatment they feel it deserves. In any case, it marks an interesting year for superhero movies and R-ratings.
Not that they have ever been mutually exclusive, of course. Watchmen, Spawn, the Kick-Ass, The Punisher and Sin City films, Dredd, 300, and the Blade series are all in present company, just to name a handful. But with February’s Deadpool becoming the highest-grossing R-rated movie in the world, it’s certainly a different era for the genre, and we’re looking at the repercussions now. Perhaps the shockingly phenomenal success of the 20th Century Fox blockbuster is what ultimately inspired the animation company to push this one past the PG-13 mark. If it’s not the first animated R-rated superhero movie, it’s definitely among a limited few.
“From the start of production, we encouraged producer Bruce Timm and our team at Warner Bros. Animation to remain faithful to the original story — regardless of the eventual MPAA rating,” Sam Register, president of Warner Bros. Animation & Warner Digital Series, said to EW in a statement. “The Killing Joke is revered by the fans, particularly for its blunt, often-shocking adult themes and situations. We felt it was our responsibility to present our core audience — the comics-loving community — with an animated film that authentically represented the tale they know all too well.”
The Killing Joke will soon make its world premiere, fittingly enough, at San Diego’s Comic-Con this summer. It’s set to be released on home video later this July. It finds Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy and Tara Strong returning to voice The Joker, Batman and Batgirl, respectively, in an origin story that finds the Clown Prince of Crime taunting The Dark Knight himself by capturing and torturing Batgirl. Released in 1988, it’s often considered among the most controversial comics in Batman lore. So it’s only fitting, then, for the movie adaptation to gain some controversy itself.