So, DC Animation Studios have announced that Batman: The Killing Joke is going to receive an R rating. Let that sink in for a minute. An R rated cartoon based on classic comic book characters from DC.
As expected, a lot of folks on the internet are already circling the wagons, lighting the pitchforks and sharpening the torches. No…wait. Eh, you get the picture. Anyhoo, I’m sure with my track record you, gentle reader, are expecting me to join their frenzied number. I, the Kraken, should be flailing my tentacles in indignant outrage. Crushing ships all along the coastline in my fury. Barbarians at the gate! Philistines! Hacks! Naughty people!
But, I’m not. No, I’m actually OK with this. See, Batman isn’t Superman and the Joker ain’t Braniac. This is the big leagues of gritty villains. This is a tough story. It was tough to read when it first came out. It still is. Watering it down would do it a disservice. The story is raw. The violence is graphic on all levels. There’s physical violence. There’s hideous sexual violence and terrible mental torture. This isn’t a tale for kids. It’s a seminal story about a seminal villain; an absolute archetype of evil rendered inexplicably human by the amazing art of Brian Bolland. It’s not a story to be enjoyed but rather experienced. As such, it’s not for the immature. I’ll probably watch it a dozen times and never really enjoy it. I’ll appreciate it. Maybe even relish it. But there is no way in hell I will ever enjoy watching Barbara Gordon be crippled and violated. Nor will I get a kick out of seeing Jim Gordon as he is forced to watch, helpless, as it happens to his only child.
Having said all that, I still don’t think this justifies opening the floodgates for a deluge of raunchy, ultra violent animated features. I don’t need to see Superman snapping necks or squashing terrorists. I don’t need to see Batman with a machine gun. I really don’t want to see Spider-Man drop somebody in a woodchipper. But the Joker is the Joker. Alan Moore is Alan Moore. And the Killing Joke is a classic. A hideous, violent classic. I hope they do it justice. I have to trust Bruce Timm on this one.
One thing is certain. This will be the ultimate Joker role for Mark Hamill. He has made no secret about wanting to bring this story to life for years, now. I’m sure it’s going to eclipse even his work on the Arkham games. Kevin Conroy is back as well as the one and only definitive Batman. Seriously, accept no substitute. Well, OK, Jeremy Sisto was good. But I only admit that grudgingly.
Anyway, that’s just my opinion. But I’m always right. Mostly.
He also sings for the Supra-70s band, RIFLE.