In the month of March, 1988, a one-shot graphic novel was created. Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland, The Killing Joke went on to win many awards, including a best writer award for Moore. Even when it was reprinted as a deluxe addition nearly 20 years later, it went on to become one of The New York Time’s best selling books in 2009. Now, nearly another decade has passed and we are about to witness this work of art come to life. For the very first time The Killing Joke will be adapted into a film. This is really exciting, even if you’ve never read the comic itself. I have no doubt that this adaptation will be highly successful and stay as closely knit to the novel as possible. Why? These are only a few reasons that this version of the infamous graphic novel will work.
First things first, they’re making this film an animated feature. It’s really the only way it would turn out well. It would be difficult to turn the beautiful artwork produced by Brian Bolland into a live action movie. The detail in this comic is some of the best ever seen and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Every line, every color, every shadow gives this novel an ominous touch. It may not turn out exactly like the beautiful panels this book provides but with certain people on board, it will be handled with care. Directed by Sam Liu, storyboard artist and director of many recent DC animated features, there is no room for disappointment. Then there’s Bruce Timm; co-creator, director and writer for Batman: The Animated Series. Yeah. Boom!
Secondly, if you’re a fan of The Animated Series, then you’ll be thrilled to know that the original cast is back. Tara Strong reprises her role as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in probably Barbara’s most dramatic appearance yet. Kevin Conroy comes back for yet another role as Batman. If you think of any animated Batman within the last two decades, you’ll think of his voice and his voice only. Reprising his role over the years in everything from cartoons to video games, Conroy returns for more. Last but certainly not least, Mark Hamill as The Joker. He himself said that he wasn’t sure he’d ever come back… unless they did The Killing Joke of course. Hamill’s approach to the Clown Prince of Crime is unlike anyone’s portrayal. The voice chosen by Hamill for this infamous villain is uncanny and immediately recognizable and a fan favorite.
A big question that kind of looms over the film’s production is, how can they turn this into a full length feature?
Thankfully they won’t be trying to add to the original story – they’ve adapted a short prologue for the beginning of the animation. From the start, we will follow Barbara Gordon and see just exactly what she means to Gotham City. It allows us to grow an attachment to Barbara that we haven’t had before. Due in part to the dark events that occur in the novel this is a perfect idea. Everything that happens to her will seem that much more cringe worthy and supply more depth to the four main characters.
For anyone unfamiliar with the comic, the tv series or even Batman, there’s a purpose for you to tune in as well. This cultural phenomenon is given the recognition it has for a reason. It is one of the darkest, most disturbing graphic novel’s of the DC universe. Despite the darkness of the plot, it’s also incredibly sad. You begin to hold a lot of remorse for The Joker, especially since this is also a tie into his origin story. In this comic, The Joker tries to prove to his arch nemesis, The Batman, that they’re not so different all the while trying to drive Commissioner Gordon absolutely insane with explicit torture. As The Jester of Genocide sees it; it only takes one bad day to drive a man into madness.
The film’s premiere will be sometime during the San Diego Comic Con, July 21-24, 2016. For those who won’t be able to make it out there or just want to purchase it, the film is already available for pre-order online. Even though the official release date hasn’t been identified yet it will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray sometime this year.