Batman: The Killing Joke is an exceptional adaption of its source material and a great, but dark, addition to the legendary Timmverse.
It has been dubbed the Timmverse. This term is used to describe any and all television series, films, characters and story arcs of Bruce Timm, creator of the iconic Batman: The Animated Series. In 1992, the series delved into the DC Universe, or more specifically the Batman mythos, in a way that was truly different than any other animated property. It brought a dramatic animation style and championed stories that were more for older viewers, yet contained the action and morals that would go on to help engage younger fans to stories of substance and thrills rather than just slapstick and 10 minute spanned adventures. It was one of the first animated franchises that was viewed and loved by a large demographic, from children to adults. The success of the series spanned into countless other properties and movies, including a brief theater opening for 1993’s Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Today, many fans would proudly confess that the spectacular cartoon series is ingrained in their childhood.
Fast forward to the 2016 debut of Batman: The Killing Joke, which has been released to theaters for a very brief couple of nights, and these same younger fans who have mostly all grown up and started to raise families of their own will find a movie that has grown with them in a dramatically beautiful, but extremely dark way. Mind you, this release was not created by Timm, who instead serves as producer. The movie is instead an adaption of arguably one of the Batman’s greatest stories which was created by the legendary Alan Moore. Although this may seem like a stretch for the Timmverse to include into its already large catalog, the movie is done in a way that superbly bridges the gap between the more youthful and fun PG 13 original series with the growth and substance of this R rated delivery.
The original cast returns to voice their iconic roles, specifically the legendary Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and the Joker respectively. Conroy is still the voice to beat as the Caped Crusader and Hamill brings intense diversity to his famous role this time as the film explores the past and present crazy of The Clown Prince of Crime. Tara Strong, who reprises Batgirl, now has a story arc that shines a light on how the character went from the eager and ambitious crime fighter to become the confident and extremely intelligent Oracle, which is entirely new to the Timmverse. The animation style is reminiscent of the original classic series with CGI embellishments and design accents scattered throughout in an effort to blend in with the art of the original comic book. The action is good, though not memorable, as the emphasis was on the story as it delves further into the mental states of the renowned hero and villain. For the most part, the movie is the masterpiece that can be expected when you consider the creative team behind it.
That being said, this is a very dark story with a more mature feel that can be included in your Batman: The Animated Series collection, even though you may not find yourself watching it over and over again. The story takes these characters to some very dark extremes, and thereby, many viewers may not be prepared for it. This is not a story for children, which is accented even more by the fact that the movie really didn’t cater to a championed musical theme or explosive superhero triumph. For the most part, the movie has very little background music, creating a mood that is developed by everything transpiring on the screen. It wants to bring you to the dark depth of the Batman mythos and let you soak it in.
All in all, this is yet another accomplishment to add to the extensive DC Animated brand and, the aforementioned, Timmverse. The movie pays a fitting tribute to both fans of the original story and The Animated Series alike. Although, I know how awesome this movie is, as I said before, this film may be best for the viewers who have grown with the series rather than a start off point for younger viewers.