Today is a great day for DC fans. It's been announced that the animated adaptation of The Killing Joke — one of the most revered yet contentious comic book storylines of all time — will get a one-off, one-night-only, extra special theatrical release!
Although we've waited 28 years for the story to be adapted, Alan Moore's 1988 graphic novel still causes debate to this day; mainly, did Batman kill the Joker? Or did he arrest him, by the book, as Commissioner Gordon demanded?
It's possible that the animated movie may shed some light on the controversial ending. But before then, let's take a look the main debates surrounding Moore's furore into the murky depths of insanity in the DC Universe.
Did Batman Kill The Joker?
Following the Joker's escape from prison, he embarks on a sadistic vendetta to try and illustrate the point that all it takes is "one bad day" for someone to lose their mind, in the same manner that he lost his own.
Part of the Joker's sadistic and infamous quest involved the assault on Barbara Gordon — which left her paralyzed — and the kidnap of Commissioner Gordon, who was forced to watch his daughter's attack.
Despite all he had been through, Gordon remains resolute, and requested Batman keep things "by the book," in a bid to avoid succumbing to the Joker's wishes.
Batman catches up with the Clown Prince of Crime, who tells a joke relating to their situation. This causes the pair to erupt into laughter, with Batman leaning his arms on the Joker's shoulder.
He then captures him and sends him back to prison, right? Well, back in 2013 esteemed comic book writer Grant Morrison claimed that Batman actually killed the Joker by breaking his neck in this scene. This also links in with the title: Morrison claimed that Joker told "the killing joke," the final straw that turned Batman into a murderer.
Is The Opening Actually A Flash-forward?
In addition, an intriguing theory popped up on Reddit last year, suggesting the opening sequence is actually a flash-forward, and Batman hands himself in to Arkham Asylum after killing the Joker. This is linked to the end panel and first panel sharing the same shot:
Another theory is that Batman did kill the Joker, but by using the Joker's very own toxic pin, which he picked up from the villain during their battle earlier on in the day.
But, But...Batman Doesn't Kill?
Conversely, the reasons against Batman killing the Joker outweigh the reasons for. Even disregarding Batman's moral code, would he really give in, and give the Joker what he wants? Especially after Gordon's plea to keep things by the book?
Not to mention, comic book canon carried forward Barbara Gordon's paralysis, so if the consequences of this storyline continued, we wouldn't have been able to see the Joker again.
Either way, The Killing Joke remains one of the most intriguing comic book storylines of all time, for the exact reason that so much is left for interpretation. Perhaps, come the animated movies release, we'll get a little extra to let us decide either way.
The Killing Joke will have a one-off theatrical screening on 25 July, followed by DVD/Blu-ray release on 2 August.