Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Killing Joke

A new Batman movie came out last month staring Mark Hamill, and was only in theaters for one day.  'Crazy!' you say?  But it's true.  It's because it is animated, and it is R rated.  It's just that simple, unfortunately.

I say unfortunately, because I would like to see more features like this.  It should have been the best movie of the summer.  And I did like it, but I didn't love it.
***   Spoiler Alert   ***

I had not read the comic before seeing the movie.  I was well aware of the comic, but I'm not much of a comic fan.  Which is why I was little perplexed when I was told by an acquaintance not to watch it because the comic promotes rape.

Now that I have seen the movie, and skimmed the comic, I can tell you that neither promote rape.  In the story, the Joker does cripple Barbara Gordon.  And he does remove her clothes, and take photos to use to terrorize her father.  That is sexual assault, but he does not rape her.  Even if he had, nowhere does it imply that what the Joker does is okay.

I have two major gripes with the movie.  The first is that Batgirl has sex with Batman.  That was not a part of the comic.  They added some story to the beginning for length.  I get that, and totally support it.  They used that added time to add some humanity to Batgirl before her tragedy.  I support that too.  This was not the time to even hint at sexualizing Batgirl.

The other thing I didn't like is that Batman came across as an insensitive bastard who just didn't care.  Someone he supposedly cares about was paralyzed, and assaulted, and he seems to have the same emotional attachment he would to any other crime.  But here's the twist; that's not what happened in the comic book either.

Batman plays it cool, just like in the comic.  He gives the Joker one last chance, just like in the comic.  Then when he snaps, and kills the Joker... the movie whiffs.

So what's the story?  It turns out the comic was written by a guest author who was given permission to make big changes because it was not meant to actually happen; noncanonical. But it was so popular that they made it canonical.  Except, you can't kill the Joker.  He's one if the most beloved-to-hate characters of our generation.  But it was only implied to have happened off screen; easy to ignore.

In my opinion, I agree, you can't kill the Joker.  But they should have replaced it with him roughing him up... or something, anything!  Showing the laugh, and not the snap, makes Batman a cold indifferent bastard.

All that having been said, the acting alone is enough for me to recommend this movie.  We will almost surely never have Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Tara Strong together for another.  This is a well done movie that is full of great nostalgia for my generation, with a couple of awful story decisions.

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