Spoilers!!! (No shit)
Oh boy, have I been waiting for this film for ages.
Ever since I discovered the Killing Joke comic, I’ve been anxious to see if there would ever be a film adaptation of this someday. To me, this was the best explanation and representation of the character of Joker.
And then, it finally happened! The Killing Joke came out as a movie.
But I wasn’t exactly satisfied to the fullest. And here’s why…
We first see the film start with a narration by Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl. At first I was ok, because at this point I was assuming “Oh, so it’s like how they made Commissioner Gordon narrate the intro to the Arkham Knight video game.” It didn’t really seem at all to be problem to the story until…
We get a solid 20 minutes of Barbara Gordon’s story being Batgirl.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Batgirl as much as the next guy, but… I’m here to see the Killing Joke! Where’s Joker? Wheres Batman? Why should I care if Barbara Gordon catches some criminal who has no relevance to the rest of the film whatsoever. And to make matters worse, she ends up having hate sex with Batman. And this was when I got really confused.
I don’t know about other fans out there, who have seen almost all the DC comics, and are experts at the different timelines, but I’ve never but Batgirl and Batman together. Batman’s romances were always with Talia or Selina Kyle (Catwoman). And as far as I know, Batgirl is at least ten years younger than Batman. Furthermore, I always viewed the pair as having a brother/sister relationship, or a father/daughter relationship. I never saw an actual romance. And I think that even Batman and Batgirl don’t think of each other that way. The film then goes on to try to explain to us that it was a spur of the moment, she was angry and confused so she didn’t know what she was doing, etc… But that brief explanation doesn’t do it justice. Why would she even hook up with Batman in the first place? It was so confusing and very uncomfortable to watch. Luckily the ‘sex scene’ lasts literally 3 seconds, but the aftermath and how Batman gets uncomfortable talking about it just reflects our feelings about what happened.
And then, after the 20 minutes of Batgirl fanfiction is over, we finally get to the glorious main plot. And let me just tell you, the first chilling moments when we see the clown prince of crime just lay down cards in front of Batman, you know the real shit is about to go down. Kevin Conroy does solid work as Batman… Obviously because he literally is Batman at this point, and don’t even get me started on the brilliance of Mark Hamill. One thing that I noticed quickly though is that this Joker seems ‘smarter’ for lack of a better word. He seems more philosophical, and it feels like he’s preaching to us about insanity, rather than just living it. When I first noticed this, I was surprised, but not disappointed in any way. I was just surprised. This was because after going through so many different re-imaginings of the Joker, I was caught 0ff-guard at how the incarnation of The Killing Joke stood out from the rest. I’d had seen DiMaggio’s performance in “Under the Red Hood,” I’d seen Hamill’s interpretation in both the animated series and the Arkham game series, and of course, nobody could forget the iconic beauty that has left a mark on the world of acting forever; The Joker of Heath Ledger.
But this Joker left me feeling sympathetic towards him at the end. No versions of the Joker had ever achieved that for me. While you can argue that other Jokers, such as Heath Ledger’s interpretation being an anarchistic ‘agent of chaos’ doesn’t really generate a sense of pity or sympathy, I found myself surprised at the amount of sympathy I felt for the Joker at the end of the film. This just goes to show how exactly the film explains insanity to be.
The dialogue is obviously amazing, as is taken from the comic. Joker’s philosophy of ‘Escaping through madness’ really does explain a lot about why he is the way he is.
What surprised me the most however, was when Batman extends his hand towards the Joker.
As Joker looks at the hand, and his reaction to all of this, the killing, the psychological and physical torture of the Gordons being his preparation to ‘prove a point’ is shown, we see that he is somewhat sad for all that has happened. After all, in his interpretation of why he has come to be, he was just an ordinary man who has had “one bad day.” And like Ledger’s Joker, we really see that “madness is like gravity… All it takes, it a little push!”
We even see the smallest glimpse of Joker seemingly sane mind for a second, as he responds to Batman’s offer of rehab as “No. It’s too late now.” I had actually expected him to laugh off at Batman’s offer, or to punch him, or to do something… Joker-like. But those words he had spoke almost felt like a silent cry for help. I loved this scene in particular because it really showed that Batman was the one most capable of understanding the Joker more than anyone, and the Joker was the one who understood Batman more than anyone. The Batman really did have one bad day, and decided to dedicate his life to fight crime in a bat costume. Who’s to say this isn’t a form of insanity? And in those moments of an offer of help, Batman really does feel sorry for Joker, for what he has become.
And in the final moments of the film, we see Batman laugh… For the first time. This was one of the things that got me nervous for the film, because we never see Batman laugh. Sure it’s easier in comics because it’s just written. It’s not auditory. I can’t even imagine what the directing words that Kevin Conroy received at this point, but oh man, he does not disappoint. Obviously this is one of the most iconic endings in comic book history, as the Joker laughs after telling a joke, and Batman starts laughing, and it gives the viewer an odd feeling. Obviously it is up for interpretation, but in the raw sense of how the scene is portrayed in relation to the comic, it does an excellent job.
Although I’ve said all I’ve wanted to say, I just have one more thing to add. And that is… I love the fact that they just left the ending with the sound of the rain. There really is no music that can or should accompany that ending scene, because I believe it would ruin it.