Batman: The Killing Joke (2016 Animated)

1 out of 5

Directed by: Sam Liu

Hey bro, how’s that Batman fanfic you have going?  You know, the one where you’re subverting all that Batman masculine claptrap by featuring Barbara Gordon front and center as Batgirl?  Oh, make sure to give her a gay friend, you know, diversify that shit.  Also, make sure she’s a strong, independent woman.  You know what I mean: daddy issues, hunting for a boyfriend, inevitably wants to hookup with Batman (hottie!) and then gets conflicted about complicated sex stuff.  Better toss in some clipped conversations about men and women and objectification, just to wink at your audience to let them know you’re not accidentally including this stuff.  What would be even better would then be to link this to The Killing Joke, which includes the much-questioned scene wherein Barbara Gordon is crippled for what solely seems like shock value, thereby further underlining the shock value of it since the plot thereafter focuses on Batman and Joker and ignores all the Batgirl lead-in and fuck it – let’s just call the movie a Batman movie anyway because I’m not really sure why we did the Babs stuff except, like, to prove we understand chicks.  And chicks want Batman.  That’s why they end up boning in the movie.  That’s the Lost-style twist here; that’s the tautology of my script.  That’s The Killing Joke.  Right?

I like Kevin Conroy in Bruce Timm’s world, where his cartoon-serious voice matches the noir-camp of that series.  When it’s ‘matured’ to rape- and sex-romp (yes, the former did feel implied to me as well), it feels a bit off target.  And unfortunately, although Mark Hamill is equally amazing as The Joker, the same applies.  Funneled through Alan Moore’s dark vision of him, it just doesn’t sit right.  The voice acting being the only highlight of this misstep – the animation and direction is bland, and the blended CGI is embarrassingly unblended for what should’ve been a high profile release – I can’t bring myself to shrug it up to two stars.  I’m also not a fan of Brian Azzarello’s heavy-handed scripting in comics, and that carries over to his script here: everyone speaks in duh cliches and/or cowboy man-talk and/or armchair psychology; no one is human, no one is interesting.

If you haven’t read The Killing Joke, it’s a pivotal Batman / Joker showdown through which possible explanations of The Joker’s mental makeup are explored.  It has its criticisms (there’s much written about the mentioned crippling), but it’s definitely part of Moore’s Watchmen catalogue in how it adds a layer of thought to the world of heroes.  And admittedly, the book is compressed and adapted in this film’s last half, meaning that some of that stuff comes through.  But there’s so much bad blood spread elsewhere that that stuff sticks out, uncomfortable amongst the mess.

Nah.  I had this for a while and was hesitating watching it.  Now that hesitation has just turned into remorse.