There a few Batman comics as iconic as Alan Moore and Brian Bollands’ Killing Joke. This is the comic where the Joker got a real story. One that would stick out from the many others that he got, and that somehow always had some of its elements borrowed for those other origin stories. Killing Joke shows the Clown Prince of crime at his most brutal and his most cunning. It shows us the end of Batgirl and the origin of Oracle. It shows us Batman laughing out loud. Needless to say, this is my favourite Batman comic.
Scratch that: it’s my favourite comic. Period.
So when Warner Animation announced its intent to translate the comic into an animated movie, my feelings were mixed. I was excited at seeing the comic come alive, yet wary of them screwing up a classic. Turns out, both feelings were right.
Let’s first get my gripes off my chest. The one major thing that struck a wrong chord was the quality of the animation. Or lack thereof. Sure, it was okay, but just okay doesn’t really do Bolland’s art justice. The comic is a masterpiece. Its translation to the big screen is stuck on mediocre. Watchable and enjoyable, but nowhere near as nice as Bolland.
Then there’s the first part of the movie. A prologue, as told from Batgirl’s perspective. While it’s a nice little short story on its own, it feels forced and tacked on to the big story, leading away attention from the main theme: the Joker.
And boy, what a Joker we get! Mark Hamill reprises the role beautifully. As does Kevin Conroy. Batman never sounded as grim opposite Joker’s maniacal cackling.
So should you get The Killing Joke? I think you should. But get the graphic novel first, and watch the movie afterwards. Because,while not as great as the original, it’s still pretty awesome.