Ok. Where to start… I have very mixed feelings about this. I’ll do my best not to go into a rant. I’ll try to stick to facts in the beginning. Then I’ll go into my opinion. Skip to the bottom if you just want to see my score. I highly suggest seeing the movie for yourself. You may generate an opinion of your own that differs from mine. Love it or hate it, I found the movie entertaining and definitely worth a viewing.
The Killing Joke is one of the most classic, iconic, legendary Joker stories ever told. You read that right. I didn’t say “Batman story”. It’s a Joker story. Through seamless flashbacks it fully breaks down his character by visiting his past as a failed comedian, trying to provide for his pregnant wife. Then leads into his being forced into a life of crime, after her death, and the birth of the Joker. His present day plan is to prove to Batman anyone can be driven insane, by kidnapping Commissioner Gordon, and subjecting him to a series of mental tortures, after paralyzing his daughter Barbara. All the while we’re granted a peek into the tangled relationship between Joker and Batman. After seeing his past, one could argue you may even “See his side of things.”
The second act of the movie follows the source material very closely. There are some scenes that could even be read along with the book. Mark Hamill delivers. That being said… The first act ensures that THIS ISN’T A JOKER MOVIE!
The first act (and end credit scene) were nowhere to be found in the original book and confirm this is no longer Joker’s story. This is a Batgirl movie. That doesn’t make it bad. It just doesn’t make it The Killing Joke. And it takes away a large chunk of what made it such a classic to begin with. Instead of being known for how well the Joker’s story was told, this movie will become most memorable for it’s treatment of Barbara Gordon.
There are parts of the first act that I loved. Paris France was an awesome villain. I’d actually like to see more of him. Part of me likes him. The other part hates him. He was just the right kind of crazy. I hope he’s used again. I liked that Batgirl was formidable and not treated as a damsel is distress. She showed that she wasn’t just a student, but a damn good student.
Here is where we get into things I didn’t exactly “dislike”, but they didn’t sit well with me. Again this is my opinion. I’ve never been a fan of the Batgirl, Batman “physical” relationship. It’s been hinted at in past episodes of Batman: TAS. And it was implied in Batman Beyond. Here it’s right in your face. Not only does Batman have a sexual encounter with his student, but this is a student that’s only three years older than his adopted son. (Dick Grayson) And it’s a student that’s been physical with his adopted son. Imagine if you were a parent and then had sex with the ex of your son/daughter, while you were teaching them in a trade. Uncomfortable yet? You should be. Not yet? Ok, I’ll go on. Now imagine your childs ex, is also the offspring of a close associate that trusts you. Yet you’re teaching their child in a trade you know they’d disapprove of. Still not uncomfortable? Well God bless you, because it made me very uncomfortable. What followed was even worse. Let’s try to ignore the dynamics I just mentioned. And let’s just say they were two consenting adults having intercourse, during a training session. Batgirl and Batman’s reaction was totally out of character. Batman would never sleep with a partner and then avoid them. Bruce Wayne would, as a playboy. Batman wouldn’t. Batman invites them to the cave and has them join the team. Catwoman, Jezebel Jet, etc. When he doesn’t want it to interfere with work, he avoids it. No matter how bad he wants it. (There’s an episode of Justice League Unlimited. Wonder Woman confronts him on, why they wont cross that line?) So why is he suddenly a jerk in a cowl now? And Batgirl has never been the “sleep with a guy, get avoided by a guy, let his rejection dictate your life, and sit on rooftops wondering if you should call him” type of girl. She got paralyzed, changed her code name, and kept going as a crime fighter. If that’s not the very definition of resilient, I don’t know what is. She’s one of the most grounded characters in DC. She was informed that she’d never walk again and her first words were, “Save my dad.” So now she’s selfless and resilient. Yet suddenly her whole world is turned upside down by Batman not returning her calls? GTFOH This is an example of the writer wanting to live out some fanboy crush and throwing logic to the wind in the storytelling. If it was mandatory for them to have sex, there’s plenty of ways it could’ve been done and stayed true to the characters. This wasn’t that way. Throw in the age gap, ex of an adopted son, and daughter of a friend that you’re already deceiving, and I can see what all the fuss is about. I didn’t hate it, but it made me uncomfortable. Sorry. I said I’d try my best not to rant. All these things put so much focus on Batgirl, that it overshadows what happens with the Joker. And there’s an after credits scene that brings it full circle, back to Batgirl. The two acts are handled differently. The “Batgirl” act cuts between Batgirl on the case. And Barbara working with her gay friend. The “Joker” act cuts between Joker in an attempt to prove a point. And flashbacks of a down on his luck husband, trying to do what’s best for his future family. It would’ve been better to do it as it’s own story and edit out the Joker flashbacks. So it would’ve officially been all about Barbara. This way things feel “off” and they never get quite right.
Overall the movie was entertaining. The voice acting, score, and animation was excellent. I have to give it two scores.
Movie in it’s entirety: 7.5/10
Movie after fast forwarding to where the “Killing Joke” story actually begins: 9/10