Hey, what do you want to watch tonight? I don’t know, what do we have that we haven’t seen yet?
That’s how a lot of nights go around here, with piles of DVDs that we haven’t gotten around to breaking the plastic wrap on. So tonight, we finally got around to cracking Batman: Killing Joke.
To be honest, all of the reviews I had seen said this was really violent, but I didn’t think it was that bad at all. I’m sure this is all about the violence done toward Batgirl, but that’s part of the story, people need to deal with it. But what really hurts the story is the entire first act that they had to add to pad out the movie’s run time. See, even though the Killing Joke comic book is one of the quintessential Batman/Joker stories, it really isn’t that long and it doesn’t provide enough material for a film to cover. So they made up a bunch of extra stuff at the beginning and that’s where they went wrong. It makes no sense to turn Batgirl and Batman into lovers, in fact, it’s downright creepy given their relationship. He is her mentor, she is his apprentice, it comes off as repugnant, especially given that Batgirl spends the rest of the movie fawning over Batman, which is totally out of character for her.
Now I get what they were trying to do, Killing Joke isn’t a very positive Batgirl story and they were trying to make her the heroine, but it doesn’t work that way. They really should have just cut the first act because it is jarringly different from the actual Killing Joke storyline. Either you do the story right or you shouldn’t do the story at all. The first act felt, for all the world, like they were trying to apologize for what they were going to do to Barbara Gordon later on and that just dulled the impact.
Even though this is a relatively faithful adaptation of the original comic story, the pacing differences between the two tales was very noticeable and it took away from the story everyone tuned in for. Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy were fantastic in their roles and even Tara Strong turned in a decent performance, at least for the last 45 minutes. But this isn’t what Killing Joke deserved. It shouldn’t have been politically corrected. It was a story for another time and should have been told as it was, not as people might want to see it today. As I said before, do it right or don’t do it at all.