Batman: The Killing Joke has always been controversial for DC comics. Yes, it is a must read for any Joker fan as it gives the origin story for the character. A good one at that, as it is considered one of the best Batman stories ever. It also happens to be one of the prime examples of "fridging" in comic books.
And the new movie just makes everything a little bit worse.
Spoilers For Batman: The Killing Joke (Comic And Movie)
For those who don't know, The Killing Joke is the story about how the Joker trying to drive Jim Gordon over the edge. How? By shooting, paralyzing, and sexually assaulting his daughter, Barbara a.k.a Batgirl. And this is where all the controversy comes in.
Barbara does not have any other role in this comic outside of victim. Hence, the "fridging." However, when DC announced that they would be making an animated movie out of the Alan Moore comic, many hoped that she would get a bigger part. And she did. The problem? The bigger role is having sex with Batman.
Yep! In the movie, in an attempt to make Barbara a more well-rounded character, they put her in an relationship with a man who has more-often-then-not shown to be a mentor. Instead of showing her fighting crime and proving herself as hero, they apparently show her as a hormonal girl pining over the "man" in her life, Batman.
Unsurprisingly, most fans haven't taken to the change. Many people, including Gail Simone, who wrote comics like Batgirl and Birds of Prey, have come out against what the movie did. Even to the point of screenwriter Brian Azzarello calling a Bleeding Cool reporter a "pussy."
As for what Bruce Timm, executive producer on the film had to say about it, he told The Hollywood Reporter the following:
"There's clearly an unstated attraction between the two of the characters from the very beginning and I think it's there in the comics. If you go back and look at the Adam West show, it's there in the Adam West show. It's subtle, but to me it's always been there."
He also told Vulture this:
We were aware that it's a little risky. There's definitely some stuff in that first part of the movie that's going to be controversial. Here's where we came down on that specific issue: It was really important to us to show that both of the characters make some pretty big mistakes. I mean, his “parental skills” aren't that great. Maybe never having had any kids of his own, he doesn't realize that if you tell a kid to not do something, they’re going to want to do it even more. And then she makes some mistakes and then he kind of overreacts to her mistakes and then she overreacts to his overreaction. So it's very human; it's a very understandable story. It's tricky because it's messy, because relationships are sometimes messy. But to me and to Alan and Brian, it was all very fascinating to us to explore that angle.
Though, this isn't the first two characters have been romantically linked, it obviously does upset a lot of fans. And I get it. The Killing Joke has never and was never going to be a good Batgirl story. Yes, it led to some wonderful comics and the great character of Oracle, but that had more to do with other writers picking up the pieces afterwards and not Alan Moore.
Whatever you think or feel about this addition to the story, you can't deny that it adds another controversial foot note in the history of Batgirl and The Killing Joke.
What do you think about all of this? Are you for or against the Batgirl/Batman relationship?