In every adaptation, whether it be for a novel or comic book, changes often become necessary to translate into another medium. It also allows for whoever is directing or writing the film to be more creative and give us something new, while still paying respect to what came before. Sometimes it works out (The Dark Knight Trilogy) and sometimes it doesn’t (Iron Man 2, X-Men: The Last Stand). But then there are those stories that are so sacred to fans that if you so much as change one slight detail, you can expect to wake up with a horse head in your bed. “The Killing Joke” is one of those stories. If there is anything all Batman fans can agree upon, it’s that you do not mess with “The Killing Joke”. That is sacred ground, my friends.
That being said, fans the world over have been hyped ever since news of “The Killing Joke” being adapted into an animated movie broke out in July of last year. However, we were all worried that DC might try to cop-out on the fans with a PG-13 rating. Anyone who has read “The Killing Joke” by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, knows that it is not suited for anything except a Hard R. It’s not only one of the most violent Batman stories ever told, it is the best Joker story ever told, showing him committing acts that would simply be neutered by a PG-13 rating. Making a PG-13 version of “The Killing Joke” is like making a PG-13 “Deadpool”… and we all remember how that turned out.
But finally, after months upon months of waiting, we finally have confirmation that this classic, violent Batman story will be Rated-R as it should be based on an exclusive statement delivered to Entertainment Weekly. Sam Register, a Warner Bros. executive, had this to say; “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.” That statement alone shows much promise for this production. It’s refreshing to see that they didn’t have the heart to water down anything for child audiences and are aiming for the gritty, brutal adaptation of “The Killing Joke” that the fans know and love.
Register then continued his statement to Entertainment Weekly by saying, “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.” Everything seems pretty cut and dry from the looks of it. We can stop worrying all together as there are currently no plans to release a “less violent” PG-13 version for the kiddies either. Let’s hope it stays that way. Featuring the voice talents of Mark Hammil (The Joker), Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Tara Strong (Batgirl), The Killing Joke will premiere at San Diego Comic-Con in July and will receive a Blu-Ray, Digital & DVD release sometime thereafter. Be sure to watch the exclusive 12-minute preview of “The Killing Joke” below.