Batman is a legendary franchise that has found success in every medium. Batman has found success in comics, video games, and even on the big screen. While Marvel has the live-action cinema universe wrapped up with its massive MCU. DC’s animated movies are frequently praised for their unique takes on classic comic storylines, so it is no surprise to see an animated Batman movie shooting up the streaming charts.
According to Flixpatrol, 2016’s Batman: The Killing Joke is currently riding high on HBO Max being the most popular film on the platform, beating out classics like The Matrix and new films like Scoob! Batman: The Killing Joke was released in 2016, and it is an adaptation of the 1988 graphic novel of the same name. This novel was written by comic legend Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland.
The Joker, the legendary villain and the pinnacle of Batman’s rogue’s gallery, escapes Arkham once more and goes on a new crime spree. However, this crime spree takes a dark turn when he targets James Gordon and his family. This includes Barbara Gordon, the young woman who moonlights as Batgirl. However, she is currently at odds with Batman, who is worried that her inability to control her anger will cause her to kill the criminals she tracks down. Throughout the story, we get flashbacks to The Joker’s past. Explaining how a regular man fell to madness and became the monster Gotham knows today.
The film feature’s an all-star voice cast with several famous DC voice actors reprising their roles. This includes Kevin Conroy returning to play Batman, a part he has become synonymous with since his work on Batman: The Animated Series in the early 1990s. Long-time Joker voice-actor Mark Hamill also reprises his role in this movie. This pair is accompanied by Tara Strong, who provides the voice of Batgirl, and Ray Wise as Commissioner Gordon.
The film got mixed reviews when it came out, netting a 39% critic score and a 50% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Most of the criticism was focused on the relationship between Batman and Batgirl. Something that changed heavily between the comic and this movie, with the pair sharing an intimate, sexual relationship. Many fans found this uncomfortable and felt like Batgirl was a prop rather than a fully realized character, especially during the scenes where the character is tortured. These additions also left the movie feeling very disconnected. With the first half having little to no relationship to the second, more comic-accurate half. Which left a lot of viewers and reviewers feeling confused.
Batman: The Killing Joke is a fascinating attempt at bringing a legendary comic to the big screen. While it looks and sounds great, it does have some translation issues. Ironically, the film is at its best when it just adapts the source material without any added flourish, with the new additions often bringing the package down. However, if you want some Batman drama, Batman: The Killing Joke is a great option.