Easily one of the most controversial, yet highly acclaimed, graphic novels in Batman’s long history as a DC staple, Batman: The Killing Joke has (finally) been adapted as an animated feature. Even though Batman, the character, has been a part of pop culture for 77 years, fans have grown attached to the actors that bring this icon to life. Most notable of which is Kevin Conroy, who has been voicing the Caped Crusader for 24 years. As Batman: The Killing Joke makes its big screen debut this summer, Conroy is joined by another icon as Mark Hamill reprises his role as Joker. Despite all the different actors who have worn the Batman mantle, none are as widely recognized or championed for their work like these two actors.
While the film, from producer Bruce Timm and director Sam Liu, is expected to stick pretty closes to the original plot, Conroy promises fans a more developed story arc for Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, who will be voiced by veteran returning actress, Tara Strong.
“They’ve expanded some of the story a bit. There’s much more of Batgirl in this, so that plotline is more developed. And the struggle, the internal struggle that Batman has, that Bruce Wayne has in wrestling with the demons in the Joker is much more explored. There are a couple of really wonderful scenes that I have with Mark [Hamill] that I’m really proud of.”
This particular story from Alan Moore, a prolific name in comics, and art by Brian Bolland, received much critical success and is still revered for its story and tone some 28 years later. A 64 page, one-shot from 1988, Batman: The Killing Joke may be loved by many, but author Moore, has always been honest about not caring much for his story, deeming its material too melodramatic, too violent, and too nasty. As Joker not so sanely states, “all it takes is one bad day,” and the adaptation from graphic novel to screen took several hits before finally getting a green light from Warner Bros.
Batman: The Killing Joke, which garnered an R-rating from the MPAA, will focus on the relationship between Batman and his ultimate nemesis, Joker. The original story almost feels like readers are privy to a tête–à–tête between two people who know each other better than either would care to admit. In the same interview, Conroy also notes that, “Batman defines Joker, and Joker defines Batman. Sometimes it feels like [neither] could exist without the other.”
Still, one of the major criticisms of Moore’s original one-shot was the lack of agency in Batgirl’s appearance, since Joker largely used her to affect Bruce. So, fans looking for more than the dynamic between Batman and Joker may be excited to know that Barbara Gordon will have a more developed storyline in the animated feature.
Batman: The Killing Joke will be screened at San Diego Comic Con on Friday, July 22, 2016. Monday, July 25th, fans around the US can grab some popcorn and catch the film in a theater near them thanks to Fathom Events. The film will be available on Digital HD as early as July 26, 2016 and for those with more patience than most, Batman: The Killing Joke hits DVD and Blu-ray on August 2, 2016.