The Batman comics in DC usually follow a very dark and gritty approach. We are often shown a very mature and serious take on the character and the mythos around him. The DC fans got one of the most brutal storylines of the Caped Crusader in 1988’s Batman: The Killing Joke. The one-shot penned by Alan Moore was so disturbing that it even led the writer to regret his decision despite its popularity among comic book lovers.
The one-shot explored the story of our favorite Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime on a different and more disturbing level. Often many fans discuss different aspects of the graphic novel starting from Joker’s back story to how the comics gave birth to a new and darker approach to storytelling. But sadly, Alan Moore even after being the creator himself, didn’t belong to the same school of belief.
What happens in Batman: The Killing Joke?
Batman: The Killing Joke is famous for providing a tragic backstory to one of the most iconic pop culture villains ever. Joker was presented as a character who had failed miserably throughout his life and was crushed hard till he lost all sanity. While the backstory is shown in flashbacks, in the present timeline, the Joker escaped Arkham Asylum and attacked Barbara Gordon, permanently paralyzing her.
Following that, he held Commissioner Jim Gordon captive and forced him to watch the photos of a wounded Barbara Gordon. On the other side, as the World’s Greatest Detective works hard on tracing Jim Gordon, we are shown one of the most outstanding confrontations between Batman and the Joker. The series of surprises didn’t end as the Joker was successful in making the superhero of Gotham laugh.
Why is Alan Moore not a fan of Batman: The Killing Joke?
Alan Moore is the creator of some of the most iconic superhero comics and Batman: The Killing Joke is undoubtedly one of them. But despite the immense popularity received by his work, he wasn’t fond of it. The dark and brutal tone that attracted such a monstrous amount of fans for the one-shot became a disappointing factor for the creator.
In an interview with Deadline, the writer of Watchmen admitted that his story is too violent and doesn’t match his taste. He regretted his decision and wanted to disown the story a few months after it was published.
“I’ve been told the Joker film wouldn’t exist without my Joker story (1988’s Batman: The Killing Joke), but three months after I’d written that I was disowning it, it was far too violent – it was Batman for christ’s sake, it’s a guy dressed as a bat.”
Alan Moore added that Adam West’s Batman is more favorite as it doesn’t take things so seriously. But there’s no lie to say that his fans don’t think so about the graphic novel which showed how Batman and Joker’s lives mirror each other. The fame received by it also forced the story to be canon, against the original plans.
The live-action adaptations of Batman: The Killing Joke
Besides the dedicated animated film based on the on-shot, elements from The Killing Joke can be spotted in the different adaptations of The Clown Prince of Crime. In Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, the concept of narrating an ambiguous past was a prominent influence from the graphic novel. The late Heath Ledger was also sent a copy of the comic to prepare for the role.
Director Todd Phillips admitted Batman: The Killing Joke’s effect in his 2019 Joker as well. The Joaquin Phoenix movie showed the character of Arthur Fleck as a failed stand-up comedian and an individual struggling hard till everything pulls him down to the extreme levels of insanity. The director revealed in an interview that the storyline was largely based on The Killing Joke and another 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs.
Interestingly, we have also seen the Eternals actor Barry Keoghan as a version of the Joker in a deleted scene from Matt Reeves’ The Batman. Although the scene was cut, it raised wild reception and the fans can’t wait to see more of him in the future of the franchise. It is not sure if the storyline would be inspired by the 1988 comics, but Keoghan confessed his love for it and the fans want to see this version as well.