Holy hero! “Batman: The Killing Joke” has become the first-ever R-Rated DC original animated movie in the nine-year history of the film franchise. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has accepted the MPAA’s rating, choosing to remain true to the landmark DC Comics graphic novel’s violent, controversial story. At this time, there are no plans for an edited, PG-13 version of the film.
The comic book was created by Alan Moore, and “Batman: The Killing Joke”, one of the best-selling graphic novels in history, tells the tale of The Joker’s origin story–from his humble beginnings as a struggling comic, to his fateful encounter with Batman that changes both of their lives forever. The R-rating stems from The Joker’s dark psyche: The iconic DC villain decides to torment Batman by kidnapping Barbara Gordon and torturing her, but the animated action is necessary violence that helps establish the Clown Prince as the meanest man in Gotham. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise their “Batman: The Animated Series” roles as Batman and The Joker, respectively.
“The Killing Joke” will include a 15-minute prologue that was not in the comic book, in which Barbara Gordon (in her Batgirl costume!) allows audiences to become interested in her as a character, before her brutal moments (maiming and sexual assault!) with The Joker.
Since its inception in 2007, the DC Universe Original Movie franchise has brought classic and current DC Comics stories and characters to animated life through a series of primarily PG-13 rated films. Throughout the 26-film history of this popular franchise, Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment have crafted animated productions that appeal to the adult fan–from adaptations of fan favorite stories to liberal adaptations of contemporary tales to original narratives.
Animation visionary Bruce Timm guided the DC Universe Original Movie franchise for its initial 16 films, then returned last summer with his own original story, “Justice League: Gods & Monsters.” Timm takes the reigns once again for “Batman: The Killing Joke,” reuniting a trio of actors (Conroy, Hamill and Tara Strong) from the game-changing “Batman: The Animated Series” cast to add even greater reverence to this heralded tale. Recognizing the fans’ dedication to the highly acclaimed graphic novel, Timm has worked meticulously to accurately maintain the intense adult content of “The Killing Joke.”
“From the start of production, we encouraged producer Bruce Timm and our team at Warner Bros. Animation to remain faithful to the original story–regardless of the eventual MPAA rating,” explains Sam Register, President, Warner Bros. Animation & Warner Digital Series. “’The Killing Joke’ is revered by the fans, particularly for its blunt, often-shocking adult themes and situations. 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.”
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will host the film’s World Premiere at Comic-Con International this summer, and see a subsequent release in 2016 on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD.