Batman Banter: ‘The Killing Joke’ Movie Review

Greetings from the silence, guys! In the past, I mentioned that I have quite a few interests outside of makeup and beauty (some that may even combine with those two focuses), but I’ve yet to make any posts revolving around them. So welcome to my first Batman Banter post! I will make this the names of my talks about everything and anything Batman-related, since he is my absolute favorite superhero and Batman comics are amazing. Hope you enjoy!

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As most avid Batman fans knew, whether from previous news announcements or from cast talks at this year’s San Diego Comic Con a few weeks ago, director Sam Liu and renowned past Batman writer Brian Azzarello created a movie rendition of Alan Moore’s infamous Joker-focused comic titled The Killing Joke. Now, The Killing Joke is one of the most influential comic books in the history of comics (even outside of the Batman community) and gives fans some sort of canon backstory of the Joker while still never truly knowing his origins. With this comic being so well-known, Liu and Azzarello had some high expectations to uphold. So…did they succeed?

My answer: Somewhat.

When I looked on Twitter before seeing the movie, the “#thekillingjoke” hashtag was a plethora of mixed opinions. Some fans completely praised the film, while many others were completely disappointed; there were very few middle-of-the-road feelings about it. However, I rarely base my own thoughts off of the thoughts of others, so I went in with my own hopes and expectations of how a cinematic version of The Killing Joke should be. (It was an even cooler experience watching the film with my brother, since I read the comic a long time ago and he’s never read it.)

To start this review off, I want to point out all of the things I did enjoy about The Killing Joke. As always, Kevin Conroy and Mark absolutely nailed their renditions of Batman and The Joker, respectively. (They have always been my favorite voice actors for those two just the same as most 90s kids like myself and my friends.) I also liked that Azzarello pretty much stuck to the comic both in style and language. It intrigued me to actually see The Joker’s backstory in real time rather than just reading flashback panels, since it almost made you feel a bit more sympathy for him…well, until you remember all the stuff he’s done as The Joker. The movie, itself, kept me pretty entertained.

On to the less positive aspects. The first half of the film is total filler, but I understand it being a necessary evil for people in the theater who are unfamiliar with the main characters of the Batman universe; the general filler wasn’t my issue. Overall, the big interaction between Batman and Batgirl (not spoiling here) didn’t bother me, either, since I was familiar with it happening in the “Batman: Beyond” comics. What bothered me the most was how forced that moment was and how it made one squirm in their theater seat out of discomfort. Azzarello kind of threw it in there, and you could sense that when it happened.

I was also a little bit disappointed regarding the animation and lack of feelings it evoked throughout. Before I continue, let me clear something up right now; I wasn’t expecting to see anything horribly graphic, since the movie team had to find the right area between the comic’s general darkness and excessive/unneeded gore. With that said, they all had a difficult task at hand. And the art was absolutely gorgeous with a tiny hint of Brian Bolland’s style added to their own. But the art just didn’t seem dark enough, even as far as brightness and contrast go. It didn’t give off the same sadistic feeling I had when reading the comic for the first time.

As a whole, The Killing Joke wasn’t an absolute DC comic movie failure. It had its positive points and still managed to be a decent movie on its own. However, it remains a little bit disappointing for fans who waited years to see a film interpretation of our favorite comic books of all time.

Stay tuned for more “Batman Banter” coming soon!

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