If you’re talking about animated adaptations of classic DC Comics Batman comic books, three book series and movies should come to mind. First there was the well-made adaptation of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, which we reviewed here at borg.com back in 2012. Then there was the faithful, two-part adaptation of Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, with Part 1 reviewed here in 2012 and Part 2 released in 2013 reviewed here. The animated Batman adaptations will soon be complete with the third key classic Batman book of the modern era coming to animated video.
This year Warner Bros. is releasing an adaptation of the 1988 controversial story Batman: The Killing Joke. Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, and John Higgins teamed up to create the definitive origin story of the sadistic villain The Joker in a shiny and colorful prestige format never before seen by comic readers. The cover sold the book, but inside the darkest story of Gotham ever told was born in only a way Alan Moore could concoct. As with his original story that became Watchmen, Moore took beloved characters, specifically Commissioner Gordon and daughter Barbara aka Batgirl, and made them victims. The origin of Oracle was born here, and Moore for the following decades has defended his handling of the story and treatment of Barbara.
Most appropriately, the animated movie will receive an R rating–a must if the film is loyal at all to the original source material. Then there’s the solid cast list.
Kevin Conroy, arguably the best Batman voice actor, returns after dozens of animated Batman roles as Bruce Wayne/Batman, and Mark Hamill (Star Wars) is back as The Joker after years of video game and other voice work as The Joker. Fan favorite Ray Wise (Psych, Twin Peaks, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Voyager, RoboCop) returns to perform the voice of Commissioner Gordon, and Tara Strong (Princess Mononoke, Ted), probably the most prolific woman voice actor in Hollywood, returns to voice Barbara Gordon.
Although we expect the sound to be spot-on, artistically speaking, the animation directed by Sam Liu, does not quite resemble the look and feel of Bolland’s original, as shown in the first full trailer for the film. Here’s the trailer for this direct-to-video release: