Review: ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ Is Full Of Potential, Lacks Execution

Synopsis: Batman (Kevin Conroy) must save Commissioner Gordon (Ray Wise) from the Joker’s (Mark Hamill) twisted quest to drive him insane.

I wanted to love this movie. I really did. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Batman: The Killing Joke isn’t bad; it’s just, well, forgettable. Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy give stellar voice performances as The Joker and Batman respectively, the majority of scenes with Mistah J. were well done, and the film really embraced its dark, R rating. Other than that, however, the movie falls flat.

I’m a big fan of The Killing Joke graphic novel. It’s the origin of one of the greatest villains of all time with an appealing art style and brilliant writing. That said, I tried not to let my love of the book hinder my opinion of the movie – but there is one major difference that needs to be addressed: the introduction and prologue of Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. The film starts with a 15 or 20 minute opening that takes us through the life of Barbara and Batgirl, giving us an idea of who that character is. When taking into account the prominence of that character in this story, it sounds like a potentially meaningful 20 minutes of film. Spoiler alert, it isn’t. The prologue felt like a disconnected, totally separate movie from The Killing Joke, and was quite boring at times. Again, I absolutely see what they were going for, but the execution simply wasn’t there.

We got several flashbacks of The Joker’s past, which was intended on giving the audience the reason as to why he’s so crazy, and was also used as an attempt to bring empathy to the character. I enjoyed the first flashback sequence, but was frankly quite bored by the fourth or fifth. They were edited into the plot randomly, felt totally out of place, and should’ve been condensed by a considerable amount. Again, I see what the writers and director were going for, but the scenes just didn’t deliver the way they could or should have.

I know I touched upon it earlier in this review, but I need to give more praise to just how brilliant Mark Hamill was in this. He’s always great as the Joker character we’ve come to know and love, but I think this might be his greatest performance in the role yet. The moment of hearing his iconic voice give the “One bad day” line  will go down in Batman history as an all time great, regardless of how the overall film was received.

Reading through my thoughts again, the theme of this review definitely focuses on potential versus actual execution. Batman: The Killing Joke truly could’ve been an amazing adaptation of the famous comic, but the prologue, odd editing and seemingly lazy animation make it a story of “what if.”

Did you see the movie? If so, did you like it? Why or why not? Be sure to let me know in the comment section below this article!

Aric Sweeny
Aric Sweeny
Monkeys Fighting Robots Assistant Editor-in-Chief. Along with my work here, I'm a staff writer for Enthusiast Gaming. I have a passion for entertainment media. Follow me on Twitter to talk all things pop culture!