Deviation Is Risky
So, guys and gals, I've just watched Killing Joke and there's plenty to talk about, so let's waste no time.
When you've loved comics for a very long time, like I have, you know, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's Killing Joke is a true masterpiece and has become a staple in nearly everybody's collection. This is one of the foundational works of the comic resurgence of the 80's and 90's. Killing Joke, The Dark Knight Returns, Sandman... it was DC's golden age. V for Vendetta, The Watchmen. Holy Shit, Alan Moore was a staff writer! He did a whole revamp of Swamp Thing that stands up today. Ok.
Killing Joke stands alone among them all. This is in large part due the disturbing nature of the story, but also the fact that it establishes an alleged origin for Batman's one true nemesis. This borders on canon. Remember what Joker said, if he has to have a past he would prefer it be multiple choice.
Batgirl. You Deserve Better
First let's talk about Batgirl/Barbara Gordon. She plays a huge role in the film version of Killing Joke. At least an entire half hour of screen time is given to her development at the beginning of the movie, now this was not the case in the book, her only purpose in that story was basically to be shot in the spine. It's obvious that you need to add more to the story, as the graphic novel itself is quite short, and it's great that they used that time to expand upon Barbara Gordon. Here she has a full on story.
She even narrates the beginning and straight up says "I realize this is probably not how you thought the story would start." Well Barb, you're entirely correct. Now why did they throw this type of side plot into the mix? I can only imagine it's an attempt to make us form a connection to Barbara therefore making her fate sting all the more. Does it work? Not really, but it doesn't do any harm either. It merely delays what we all came to see.
She's also boning the bat (really gotta remember that for a Batman porn parody) which was also kind of strange and off setting, it's not that it was awful or anything, I just didn't understand why it was there. You have all this screen time devoted to an impressive female character, with many layers, and you just go with this? Lost opportunity to add something at a similar level, artistically, to the rest of the story. Instead we have a sex scene. This choice has stirred a backlash and understandably so.
So on to the rest of the movie. Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy return as Batman and Joker,and both are still wonderful in those roles. Mark Hamill still makes a damn fine Joker. There are parts of this film that jump right off the pages of the book and that makes for some good viewing. The R rating definitely gave the crew a little bit more freedom as far as language and what they could show.
This R rating allowed for Barbara's mutilation, and forced naked photo session to be shown in all it's disturbing detail. I mean don't look for Game of Thrones levels of gore and nudity here, and sometimes that's better. What you don't show can often be as powerful as what you do.
When Joker undoes that one button on Barbara's blouse as she lays completely helpless you know what's going on, you don't need to see it. But i'll be damned if Joker doesn't make some incredible librarian/spinal injury/disabled jokes.
So guys in the end is Killing Joke the best Batman tale ever told on screen? Probably not, but it is still enjoyable, and definitely worth a watch. For those who are fans of the Alan Moore and Brian Bolland original, it's more or less a direct adaptation with a half hour of bullshit thrown in at the beginning. So it's not too shabby in my humble opinion, watch it, enjoy it and form your own opinions at the end. For my time it was well worth it.
What did you think? Let me know.