[This article contains Batman: The Killing Joke spoilers.]
Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's comic, Batman: The Killing Joke, is without question one of the most heavily debated DC stories of all-time. Some praise the dark tale for the way it provides more insight into the Joker's horrifying ways as he attempts to drive James Gordon mad, while others criticize it for its overly cruel treatment of Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl. This is the story that not only paralyzed her from the waist down, but also mortified her by having the Clown Prince of Crime strip her naked and take pictures while she's laying helpless and injured on the floor. The violent and deranged act was done in an attempt to prove that anyone - even the city's respected police commissioner - could become mad after suffering a terrible event.
Now, Warner Bros. and DC are turning Moore and Bolland's brutal and controversial comic into an animated movie. Mark Hamill is reportedly reprising his role as the Joker, and if that's true, one can only hope Kevin Conroy will voice Batman. Considering the twisted and graphic nature of the story, it's obvious this animated movie will be at least PG-13. However, the producer of another upcoming DC animated movie, Batman: Bad Blood, implied The Killing Joke could be the first DC animated movie to be rated R.
During the New York Comic-Con 2015 Batman: Bad Blood panel, Batman News reports that James Tucker said DC has given Batman: The Killing Joke permission to earn an R-rating. That does not mean the movie will be R, only that they have the potential to unleash the tragic narrative without holding back at all. Not only does The Killing Joke have plenty of disturbing content, but there's also nudity - Gordon is stripped of his clothing after being captured, and he's forced to view the images of his naked and severely hurt daughter. Many of the comic's panels are illustrated in a way which prevents genitals from being seen, so the odds of the movie doing the same with its shots is likely.
A few of DC's PG-13 animated movies have included a lot of brutality and terrifying sequences. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox has a close-up of a villain being shot in the head - the projectile creates a large hole - and even children being killed. Justice: League: Gods and Monsters includes swearing and incorporates plenty of graphic violence. Batman: Assault on Arkham doesn't shy away from gore, edgier material, and sexual content. And The Dark Knight Returns is loaded with savage violence and the Joker goes on a killing-spree.
DC's animated movies obviously have a history of including violent and dark content in PG-13 projects. Because of this, it seems as though Batman: The Killing Joke could earn a PG-13 rating while staying true to its source material - and projects like Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns show they do give a lot of respect to the comics. For The Killing Joke, its chilling content could potentially justify an R, but with everything DC has included in PG-13 projects, it's clear they could fit all of the twisted content without needing an R-rating. Then again, being DC's first rated R project could be an effective way to give the film more attention among fans.
Batman: Bad Blood will release early 2016; Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Batman: The Killing Joke's release dates have yet to be announced, but both are expected to arrive in 2016 too.
Source: Batman News