Late last night at Comic-Con, DC Comics and WB Animation held a panel with Bruce Timm, the renowned animation specialist who has overseen “Batman: The Animated Series,” “Justice League Unlimited,” and a plethora of other DC animated projects for over 20 years. At the panel, he made a rather monumental announcement that was then tweeted by DC Comics themselves: one of the most renowned, mature, and horrifying Batman comic book stories in history will be getting an animated adaptation next year.
Batman: The Killing Joke is coming to animated film 2016 — Just announced by Bruce Timm at our JL: Gods & Monsters panel! #DCSDCC
— DC Comics (@DCComics) July 11, 2015
Batman: The Killing Joke was written by comics legend Alan Moore, and illustrated by acclaimed artist Brian Bolland, and released in 1988 as an original graphic novel. In the time it was released, The Killing Joke would become one of the most shocking and disturbing Batman stories ever told, largely because of its singular focus on the deranged mind of Batman’s most iconic villain: his nemesis, the Joker. Presenting the Joker’s mind as a haphazard mashing together of conflicting thoughts, memories, and feelings, Moore posits an origin for the character that sees him as a failing comedian struggling to make ends meet for he and his pregnant wife. When his wife is killed in an accident, the broken comedian agrees to a heist at a chemical plant to ensure his financial future, when the entire affair is broken up by the newly-minted Batman. This leads directly to the creation of the “Harlequin of Hate.”
The most shocking thing about The Killing Joke, though, is its treatment of Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl. In order to prove a point to her father Commissioner Gordon, Joker shows up unannounced to her apartment and fires a single gunshot, paralyzing her. What follows is pretty graphic and shockingly disturbing, especially for a DC comic book released in the late 1980s. The book has gone on to become the sought after piece on the Joker as a character, and made massive waves throughout the DC Comics Universe by confining Barbara to a wheelchair for nearly 25 years after its initial publication.
With DC animation recently having adapted both Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, the only major 1980s Batman stories that have yet to make the transition are Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth, and The Killing Joke. It looks like that’s about to change next year in the latter case. Perennial Joker voice actor Mark Hamill has stated that he would come back to the part instantly if this story was adapted, and now that they’re doing it, we’ll just have to see if they decide to bring Hamill back for the part this time.
Other announced films at the panel included Batman: Bad Blood, Justice League vs. Titans, and a new Batwoman project.
For more on this film and the others as they develop further, keep it locked on GeekNation.
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