Ever since 2007’s Superman: Doomsday, DC and Warner Bros. Animation have been regularly releasing direct-to-video animated movies. When the latest one, Justice League: Gods and Monsters, premiered at San Diego Comic-Con 2015, a panel after the screening confirmed the 2016 slate of DC animated movies. Next year will see the release of Batman: Bad Blood, Justice League vs. Titans, and Batman: The Killing Joke.
Bad Blood will give Batman’s supporting cast some extra spotlight (including, the debut of Batwoman and Batwing in the animated universe) and Justice League vs. Titans will presumably introduce a new team of heroes to the evergrowing animated universe. Meanwhile, Killing Joke will bring an iconic and very well-known Joker story to life. Several people have provided different takes on the Joker over the decades (and 2016 will also reveal Jared Leto’s full version of the villain in Suicide Squad), but when it comes to the Joker’s energetic yet haunting voice, many fans agree that Mark Hamill did a perfect job as the Clown Prince of Crime.
Collider is reporting that Hamill has already recorded his lines for Batman: The Killing Joke, with this news coming not long after Hamill said he would love to voice Joker in the film (meaning: his wish had already come true). He also had the opportunity to reprise the role in the Arkham video game franchise and he played an especially noteworthy role in Arkham Knight. (We won’t reveal how.) Meanwhile, Kevin Conroy, the unforgettable voice of the Dark Knight in Batman: The Animated Series, says he would love to voice Batman in Killing Joke, having told ComicBook.com that he would “do it in a heartbeat” and that he loves working with Hamill.
Sam Liu will direct and Bruce Timm will serve as an executive producer on the animated Killing Joke, which reportedly starts with a 15 minute prologue. Obviously, the animated movie will be based on Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s 1988 Batman: The Killing Joke comic. That story has long been praised for the way it offers insight into Joker (one of Batman’s deadliest foes) and its infamous subplot about Barbara Gordon – who, for some time, was Oracle in the DC comic universe, before she returned as Batgirl after the New 52 DC Comics reboot.
The Killing Joke is by no means the first Batman story to receive an animated adaptation. Liu also directed Batman: Year One and that stayed very true to Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s story arc. The Dark Knight Returns was also turned into a two-part animated movie, and director Jay Oliva’s films remain fairly close to Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s comic storyline. It would be understandable if the animated project isn’t a panel-for-panel recreation of the comic, but given DC’s animated history, it seems probable that the animated version of Killing Joke won’t stray too far from the source material.
Beginning in 2014, DC and WB have been releasing 3 animated movies per year: a Batman movie, a Justice League movie in the same universe, and a non-canon movie. It looks like Batman: The Killing Joke will be the non-canon one for 2016, if Conroy voices Batman instead of Jason O’Mara (the voice of Batman in Justice League: War, Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin, and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis). Time will tell how this version of the story is handled, but having Conroy and Hamill together would be truly exciting for many fans.
Perhaps Melissa Gilbert (the voice of Barbara Gordon in Batman: The Animated Series) or Tara Strong (the voice of Barbara in The New Batman Adventures) will voice Barbara in the Killing Joke film, too. Unfortunately, Bob Hastings – the voice of James Gordon in Batman: TAS – passed away in 2014.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters is currently available digitally and the Blu-ray/DVD goes on sale July 28, 2015. Batman: Bad Blood, Justice League vs. Titans, and Batman: The Killing Joke will be released in 2016.