Saturday, September 17, 2016

Let's Talk: Batman: The Killing Joke

Hello all!

So, I finally got around to picking up the DC animated film, Batman: The Killing Joke and holy cow was it good. The adaptation of the graphic novel first premiered at this years San Diego Comic Con back in July, and was originally intended to be a straight to video release. Instead, it was released digitally, in DVD/Blu Ray format and in select theaters for one night.

The film has received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike. On one hand it's been praised for its voice actors (you can never go wrong with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill) and for how well it stayed true to the original source material, but on the other it was criticized for its 30 minute prologue and the depiction of Batgirl. Despite all that, it still managed to rake in a whopping $4 million worldwide.

The story starts off with Batgirl, a.k.a. Barbara Gordon, failing to capture a group of robbers but does manage to catch the eye of Paris Franz, the leader of the gang and nephew of one of the most powerful mob bosses in Gotham. Franz develops an obsession with Batgirl and ends up tricking her into finding his uncle's dead body. Batman, fearing for her safety, takes her off the case telling her she'll eventually stray too far into the void and be tempted to kill the criminals they pursue instead of bringing them to justice. Understandably, Barbara doesn't take too kindly to that which leads to her and Bruce fighting and then sleeping together. A few days later, Batman is ambushed by Franz and his men, and when Barbara comes to his aid, loses control and almost beats Franz to death. This mental break causes Barbara to retire her crime fighting ways for good.

After all that, Batman is brought to a crime scene by Detective Bullock and after seeing the gruesome smiles on the deceased faces, comes to the conclusion that the Joker has broken out of Arkham Asylum and is behind the murders. When Commissioner Gordon and him go to Arkham, Batman's worst fear is confirmed -- the Joker is loose and somewhere in Gotham.

The Joker then attacks Barbara, shooting her in the stomach leaving her paralyzed, while her father looks on in horror. Jim is then taken by Joker's thugs to an amusement park where he is stripped and tortured with pictures of his daughter naked and in pain.

All throughout the film, you get little flashback cuts to Joker's past and how he came to be the Clown Prince of Crime. It turns out he was a down and out engineer turned comic just trying to make a better life for his wife and their unborn baby only to fail miserably. Desperate for cash, he agrees to help two criminals break into his former place of employment, but tries to back out once he finds out his wife and child have been killed. The thugs aren't about that and force him to go along with the plan while wearing the Red Hood's mask and cape. Needless to say, it doesn't go as planned and after a shootout with security takes out his criminal buddies, the Joker is trying to get away only to be cornered by Batman. In his terrified state, the Joker trips over the cape and falls into a vat of chemicals which disfigure his face. Combine that with the grief of losing his family, and it was all too much for him to take and his mind just snaps; he fully turns into the Joker we all know today.

Fast forward back to the present, Batman saves Jim Gordon, who is perfectly level-headed and sane despite all of the Joker's efforts to break him, as the Joker flees into the fun house. Batman (of course) goes after and you hear Joker taunting him that any man can go insane off of just one bad day. Eventually, the two come face to face and have a little scuffle, and Batman tells him that although he tried, Gordon was fine and that the Joker is alone in his madness. He offers helps, which the Joker refuses, telling him it's too late for him. Then he tells a bad joke and the two laugh as you hear police sirens in the background.

All in all, I thought the film was really good and I loved how well it stayed true to the original comic. I also wasn't the biggest fan of how Barbara/Batgirl was portrayed, almost as that comic book cliche girl who is sort of complex but really there as a love interest for the male character. I did like the mid-credit scene of her in the wheelchair entering a secret room and the Oracle logo on her computer, though. That kinda redeemed it a little for me then because I do love her as Oracle. The beginning did seem a bit wonky and like it didn't flow into the main story as well as it could have, but overall I was a fan of the comic so I figured I was gonna be of fan of the film as well.

Have any of you seen it? If so, what'd you think? Lemme know!

1 comment:

  1. I just finished watching this - I wanted to see it before I read any more reviews. I didn't watch the credits so I didn't see the mid-credit scene with the Oracle logo. But as for my thoughts on the overall thing, I'm not going to say that I disliked how Barbara was portrayed - because a part of me understands the reasoning. Yet there is another part that wonders why a company that would create characters like Batgirl, Catwoman, etc. would feel the need to turn one of them into a bad parody of a female lead in a romantic comedy. IDK But I do know that it's not going to be added to my list of favorite animated movies - I will admit that I did like learning a bit more about the Joker and his past.