Despite the controversial changes made to the animated version of The Killing Joke, the limited-release animated feature made a killing of its own at the box-office. The animated adaptation grossed nearly $4 million over the course of its two-night theatrical release, a decent taking for a DC Animated feature.
Alan Moore's The Killing Joke graphic novel of the late 1980s has achieved a special place in Batman lore over the nearly 30 years since its release. The contentious comic became a landmark piece of work which helped cement the Caped Crusader as the dark brooding character we're familiar with nowadays — a far cry from his origins as a campy superhero from the pages of Detective Comics and the famous Adam West series starring Batman series of the 1960s.
One of the most exciting things about the adaptation of this classic graphic novel was the similarly iconic voices being lent to the project. Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League cast members Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill both returned to reprise their roles as Batman and Joker respectively.
Both Conroy and Hamill have voiced the two arch-nemeses since the early 90s, and have since become synonymous as the definitive voices of Batman and Joker. But as comic book and animated show fans well know, just because the Batman of The Animated Series has the same voice as that of the Arkham Asylum Batman, it doesn't mean they're the same character.
Welcome to the world of the DC Multiverse, where continuity means nothing. This is generally a good thing as it allows for different writers and studios to explore various characters without always having to stay beholden to previous stories in the shared DC universe.
The various versions of Batman voiced by Conroy have generally existed as separate Batmans from separate universes, and you'd expect the Caped Crusader of The Killing Joke to live in yet another alternate universe. So, given the dark and violent tone of the R-rated movie, you might be surprised to learn that The Killing Joke's Batman is actually the same as in the upcoming animated show Justice League Action — a series which definitely has a younger target audience.
Says who? Says Kevin Conroy — Batman himself — when speaking to ComicBook.com at the San Diego Comic Con this past weekend:
"Batman fans are so passionate. You have to be consistent; you have to be true to the character no matter what situation he's in. In 'The Killing Joke', it's such a dark, frightening place that he goes to, but it's the same character. In 'Justice League Action', it's that character, that same brooding, dark character, but in a more ridiculous situation."
So what does this mean? Though Conroy may just be speaking generally about the character, if we take his comments literally it means that The Killing Joke and Justice League Action take place in the same universe.
This is seemingly supported by the fact that Mark Hamill is also returning as Joker in Justice League Action, but one character we aren't yet expecting to see in JLA is Barbara Gordon — a.k.a. Batgirl, a.k.a. Oracle following her injury sustained by Joker in The Killing Joke. If Justice League Action is set in the same world as The Killing Joke, this means the Barbara of the show could have taken up the Oracle mantle after retiring Batgirl.
And though Barbara Gordon is not yet officially confirmed to be appearing in the series, voice actress Tara Strong — who voices Barbara in many recent iterations of the character, including The Killing Joke — is confirmed to be lending her voice to the cast.
But though it may be the same character, Justice League Action is set to be the lighter antidote to The Killing Joke. As Conroy told ComicBook.com, we should expect humor and "a little bit more of a ridiculous side" to the Caped Crusader when the new series premieres.