Batman The Killing Joke

Following last month’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a very different Dark Knight takes on a very different nemesis in this year’s other Batman movie, Batman: The Killing Joke. This one, as the title suggests, is an adaptation of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland‘s famous comic book storyline, and Warner Bros. / DC has gone to great lengths to make sure it’s the movie fans want. Not only does the animated direct-to-video feature reunite voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, it boasts an R rating, lest you worry it’ll smooth over the darker, uglier aspects of the source material. Watch the first Batman: The Killing Joke trailer below.

Yahoo premiered the Batman: The Killing Joke trailer, or here’s a YouTube embed if you prefer.

From here, the film looks like a pretty faithful adaptation of the original story. Maybe even too faithful — the animation recreates a lot of the panels from the book, but can’t help but look shoddy in comparison to Bolland’s gorgeous illustrations. But the film has made a few changes, starting with a 15-minute prologue to help set up the story. So even if you know the comic book inside and out, the movie should offer something new to chew on. It should also be interesting to see if the updates do anything to mitigate the more controversial aspects of the story, like its treatment of Barbara Gordon.

Batman, as a property, has a darker side than a lot of other superheroes. Which is all well and good for adults who want something edgy, but can be awkward when it comes time to reconcile that element of his appeal with his popularity among fans of all ages. Batman: The Killing Joke‘s R rating is a perfect example of that tension. On the one hand, The Killing Joke is a really ugly story, and the rating is a promise to adult fans that the movie won’t pull its punches. On the other, families are a huge part of the market for Warner Bros.’ DC animated movies, and The Killing Joke will undoubtedly force some parents reconsider their assumption that these films are safe for their kids.

If you’re curious to see how it all pans out, Batman: The Killing Joke will have its world premiere at Comic-Con this summer before dropping on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital later in the year.

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