About the Movie
Just a little backstory on how Batman: The Killing Joke started, according to Bolland, from The Art of Brian Bolland (Image Comics) and Cover Story: The DC Comics Art of Brian Bolland (DC Comics), it was him that brought the project to light. In 1986, Bolland wanted to do something more substantial than just his regular cover gigs so he called up (then) Vice President Dick Giordano and asked him for a Batman project. Bolland requested Alan Moore as writer.... and somehow DC Comics managed to get Moore on board.
To work on Bolland’s art strengths, they decided to focus it on the Joker (that's because Bolland said that his Judge Death, from Judge Dredd, was mostly a foreshadowing of the Joker) with Batman serving as “less defined background character”.
The story is quite simple: the Joker maimed Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), strips her naked and photographed her in an effort to drive Commissioner James Gordon insane. In typical Moore style, the story also parallels, what we know today as the definitive Joker origin story. There are different variations, but as the Joker puts it, “If I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!”, but in this version, the story paints him in a sympathetic light.
Two years later (1998), Bolland was still drawing the comics and he realized that after he's blown through some deadlines, that there was absolutely no way he could color the graphic novel himself. Instead, they hired John Higgins to do the colors.
Of course, Bolland, hated the colors. Bolland was more than happy to go back and re-color his work, 20 years later when DC went back to printing the special 20th Anniversary Edition.
With the source material so beloved, WB was bound to disappoint its fan. First of all, the animated artwork seems pretty generic, cartoony, rather than the detailed line work that Bolland is famously known for.
The second disappointment came in a brand new storyline introduced to animated The Killing Joke. Understandably, the film makers needed to give a backstory and motivation to Batgirl’s character and gave her a reason to give up her cape... But ultimately the Batgirl story had little, if anything, to do with The Killing Joke and was really totally unnecessary.
It wasn’t so much the extra Batgirl story that had fans upset, it was the fact that they got her character wrong. And spoiler alert, but the way they saw it was that Batman was more of a father figure/mentor than how it was portrayed in the first half of the story.
When the actual comic adaption began, it did a fairly good job. For the first time, we got to see the pages of the comics come to life, although I would have loved to see some of the dialog overlaps some scenes (as how I originally imagined it in my head when I read the graphic novel).
It was also good to get the old gang from Batman: The Animated Series back together again: Bruce Timm (producer), Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (the Joker).
Batman: The Killing Joke Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
“I Go Looney” sounded like an odd Broadway musical, with a good beat and melody, a stark opposite of the dark story. According to the special features on the Bluray disc, that was exactly what the music writers were going for. For that, the song really stood out.
Lolita Ritmanis and a full orchestra
If you love the original graphic novel, Batman: The Killing Joke Blu-Ray and Original Motion Picture Soundtrack are great companion pieces and should belong in your collection.
Batman: The Killing Joke is out now on Blu-Ray and DVD. Batman: The Killing Joke Soundtrack is available on CD and digital WaterTower Music and La-La Land Records (lalalandrecords.com).