The Killing Joke Is Officially Batman’s First R-Rated Film
To downplay the emotional impact of DC Universe Animated Original Movies simply because they’re animated would be an egregious mistake. For years, DC has been making animated films that have resonated with fans, and oftentimes these adaptations are far better—and more faithful to the source material—than their live-action counterparts. Batman: The Killing Joke will be no exception.
The DC Original Movie franchise’s latest animated film, Batman: The Killing Joke, will truly be its darkest project yet, and it has the official MPAA rating to prove it. According to EW, the direct-to-video animated film based on the divisive Alan Moore comic has been given an R rating. The Killing Joke marks the first film in the DC Universe Original Movie franchise to be rated R—and the second Batman movie to do so, after the extended home-release of Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice later this year.
Although, for anyone who’s ever read Moore’s Killing Joke, then you know why this film needed to be rated R. Published in 1988,The Killing Joke is one of the most divisive graphic novels ever created in DC Comics’s 82-year history. It’s a tragic origin story for one of Batman’s greatest foes: The Joker. (Mark Hamill will voice the infamous Gotham City psycho in the animated adaptation.)
The story finds the unhinged villain—a former engineer-turned-failed-comedian—taunting the Dark Knight by capturing, paralyzing, and violently torturing Barbara Gordon (Batgirl). He also attempts to drive Commissioner Gordon mad with photos of his wounded, naked daughter. (It’s terrible.) Hailed by some as the definitive Joker text, Moore’s story is still controversial among DC Comics fans today. It’s dark, tragic, and brutally misogynistic — at times, unbearably so. So now you can see why an R rating is necessary to do the story justice.
“The Killing Joke is revered by the fans, particularly for its blunt, often-shocking adult themes and situations,” Warner Bros. Animation president Sam Register said in a statement to EW. “We felt it was our responsibility to present our core audience—the comics-loving community—with an animated film that authentically represented the tale they know all too well.”
Batman: The Killing Joke will world premiere at San Diego Comic-Con this summer, and drop on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD later this year.