The movie side of the DC Comics universe certainly appears to be going all-in on darker, more adult-oriented adventures featuring Batman and the rest of the publisher’s superheroes.
Just a few weeks after announcing that the much-maligned Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice would get an “R”-rated edit for the home-entertainment market, Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment have revealed that the upcoming animated feature Batman: The Killing Joke would also have a restricted, adults-only “R” rating.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the adaptation of the controversial 1988 graphic novel by writer Alan Moore and artist Brian Bolland will premiere at the Comic-Con International convention in San Diego later this summer before arriving on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital platforms shortly thereafter.
“From the start of production, we encouraged producer Bruce Timm and our team at Warner Bros. Animation to remain faithful to the original story — regardless of the eventual MPAA rating,” Sam Register, president of Warner Bros. Animation & Warner Digital Series, told EW. “The Killing Joke is revered by the fans, particularly for its blunt, often shocking adult themes and situations. We felt it was our responsibility to present our core audience — the comics-loving community — with an animated film that authentically represented the tale they know all too well.”
Originally published as a one-shot graphic novel, The Killing Joke offered an origin story of sorts for Batman’s infamous arch-enemy, the Joker, and chronicled the villain’s efforts to drive Commissioner James Gordon insane in order to prove that “one bad day” is all it takes to turn a good man into a killer. Among the key elements of the Joker’s scheme is the torture and maiming of Gordon’s daughter, Barbara, the former Batgirl.
While the story is widely considered to be one of the definitive Joker stories and is often ranked among the greatest comic-book stories ever published, The Killing Joke has also proven to be one of the more polarizing stories in the medium, with critics taking issue with perceived misogynistic undertones in the story.
Along with longtime Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy returning to portray The Dark Knight, the film will also feature Mark Hamill as the voice of The Joker, and Tara Strong as Barbara Gordon.