This year is an amazing year to be a superhero fan. With Superman and Iron Man flying across the big screen while the Flash defies the law of physics on TV, it's any fan's dream come true. But, in all the excitement, we cannot forget the magic that is also happening in the animated world. Justice League vs Teen Titans hit the world full swing in March ensuring that the DC animated universe will not be forgotten in a hurry. Now, another comic geniality will be joining the animated universe - Batman: The Killing Joke.
The killing Joke, back in 1988, was probably one of the darkest and most controversial comic stories ever to be created and, to this very day it remains one of Batman's darkest plots. This is why director and producer, Bruce Timm, found the concept of making The Killing Joke animation truly terrifying. Timm himself told Empire:
"I mean the idea of adapting this story always kind of terrified me, because of how relentlessly grim and bleak it is. And what happens to Barbara Gordon in the story is very controversial to this day.”
You might be wondering, how could an animation be terrifying to produce? Well the killing Joke is in one of the darkest stores ever created by Alan Moore and the idea of creating a film based on it has been shelved more times than anyone would believe. This is because it sinks deep in to the dark and psychopathic mind of DC's greatest villain - The Joker. The only way such a film could be created, one where viewers are forced to watch as The Joker attempts to break Jim Gordon, is if it were R-rated (a notion only deemed acceptable pretty recently).
The plot follows the deep and brooding Joker origin story, and how an ordinary man crossed the line to insanity. Between flashes of the Joker's past, we see the even darker present. This is where the controversy and spine-shivering begins. We watch as the mad Joker pulls Detective Gordon's and Batman's strings like a masterful puppeteer, by creating an innocent victim from the unsuspecting Batgirl. Through his insane and bloody antics, he tries to push both Bats and the detective to the brink of insanity, so they too could witness first hand how mad the world really is. Through the torment and torture he forces Detective Gordon to endure, the Joker reveals a haunting truth, the true difference between him and the rest of the world:
"I've demonstrated there's no difference between me and everyone else! All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day."
Are audiences ready for such a film? That was the question that plagued the minds of animators and directors for all these years. Are audiences ready for the shocking truth that will be revealed between the Joker and Batman? Are fans around the world really ready to discover just how similar the greatest villain and hero really are? Both had 'one bad day' and like two sides of the same coin, that one bad day defined their futures. For many years people have associated animated films with children but DC is proving otherwise. The DC animated universe is not afraid to ruffle some feathers and thread through water previously left untreaded. They aren't afraid to expose the audience to blood or the concept of murder (even that of a mother plotting the death of her own son). In Batman: Bad Blood they even introduced Bat Woman, an openly lesbian character who isn't afraid to get her hands dirty. I think it is safe to say that DC is not afraid to push the limits of animation. But does that mean that the world is ready for a film adaptation of The Killing Joke?
I believe we have waited long enough. Now is just the right time to create this master piece. Thanks to Deadpool and Mad Max, audiences not only accept R-rated movies, they are practically petitioning for most upcoming movies to be R-rated and The Killing Joke is just the plot to set the bar so high that even Deadpool would be left speechless. Just because it's an animation does not make it automatically for children and they can be just as R-rated as any live-action film. Directors and producers may be scared to finally produce an adaptation of this world renowned comic due to its dark and controversial topics. But to me, it seems now it just the right time to create it, to introduce fans around the world to the other side of Batman's coin, the one shrouded in darkness.
Batman: The Killing Joke will be released on the 23rd of July, 2016.