“Why aren’t you laughing?”. For 72 minutes straight, the “Batman: The Killing Joke” audience has been asking themselves the same question.
The 1988 comic book written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland and John Higgins, represents one of the most important milestones in the graphic novel world, as the storyline finally reveals the most well-kept secret of all the comic books: who the Joker really is. But this is not even the pick of the story. Batman and Joker, two ferocious sworn enemies, seem to be undertaking their final battle ever, and it’s epic.
However, the fans can’t praise the animated version of the comic book the same way, which was released this year on August 12th. Even though the R-rated movie tried to unravel the story as truthfully to the original comic book as possible, the two productions have received two completely different reactions from the fans of DC Universe. Let’s see what are the 5 biggest disappointments of the movie.
Even though the Joker is the central piece of the story, he appeared for only approximately 30 minutes, while an obscure comic book character seemed to get all the limelight in the movie version. Batgirl was just a means to an end in the comic book, which was possibly nothing new. She was the pawn Joker made used of to make detective Gordon abandon his strong moral codes and reveal his insane side.
However, Barbara Gordon, the Batgirl, is the main character for the first 20 minutes of the movie. Moreover, she doesn’t add any kind of strong statement to the animated version. On the contrary, she seems to be seeking Batman’s praise for her Batgirl actions while getting herself into trouble.
The new beginning comes with a new character. Paris Franz is the nephew of crime lord Carlos Francesco. He is Barbara’s last case before she declares to Batman her intention to quit being the Batgirl and he is also completely absent in “The Killing Joke” book.
The upsetting part here is that this character has nothing to do with the main plot that made “The Killing Joke” the most famous comic book. His presence serves only to show the inner conflict Batgirl is dealing with. Then again, Batgirl played no major part in the comic besides being the bait for James Gordon. So, Batman fans are asking why did the director go through so much trouble to develop an unrelated topic of the story?
And their meeting is far away from the parental image the DC Universe fans have projected on the relationship between Batman and Batgirl. On the contrary, their rooftop fight about Batgirl’s impulsive behavior changes into a sex scene all of a sudden.
Such a scene may have just ruined the speculations created over the years around the relationship between these two characters, so it most definitely made room for many questions. Was this just another impulsive action? How did the prudent, rational Batman even allow this to evolve? However, the answers never showed up.
Unlike its initial part that went completely off the books, the rest of the movie followed the comic book completely. And there was nothing more to it.
The movie brought no new spicy ingredient to the table. The audience was presented with no new angle of the story, as the action took place exactly as it was supposed to.
Moreover, even though the animation was R-rated, it played more nicely than the comic book. Such form of censorship ignored the passages where Barbara and James Gordon are displayed completely naked in front of the readers. While the moviegoers did most certainly not watch “The Killing Joke” for some bare skin, this omission did cause a lack of depth that the comic book tackled. It wasn’t without reason that Commissioner Gordon appeared naked. The purpose was to symbolize his tragic situation, stripped of any human reasons to stick to his moral codes.
His daughter was paralyzed and presented naked in front of him, and his own person was degraded and humiliated to prove the Joker’s point that everybody has an insane side. Despite all these traumas, Gordon remained an honest and incorruptible man. This way, he defeated the Joker on the psychological battlefield.
Given the fact that a movie production has much more tools and techniques to use than the flat and static surface of a comic book in terms of graphic visuals, “Batman: The Killing Joke” delivered no feeling of an action movie.
The concept art might be categorized as an art deco gothic style, but it was not enough to create adrenaline and shivers down the spine or convey the high level of craze the Joker is so good at to its viewers. The best goosebumps were a result of the power lines used by the characters that can also be found in the comic book. These lines could have been otherwise amazingly replaced by some moves, intensive glances or other special effects that an animation can provide.
Bottom line, while Marvel is keeping fans happy, making money in the process and revitalizing careers such as Robert Downey Jr’s, DC is launching questionable movies such as Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, Suicide Squad, and The Killing Joke.
As a final note, “Batman: The Killing Joke” is a must have a controversial animation for the collection of any DC Universe fan, but it will definitely not be one’s most precious piece.