According to Disney blog Stitch Kingdom, at New York Comic Con, James Tucker, a producer and animator on tons of DC animated properties, revealed that he was given the okay to go all out and make the hugely influential The Killing Joke R-rated.
DC gave permission to make Killing Joke movie for R rating. #NYCC— Stitch Kingdom (@stitchkingdom) October 10, 2015
To clarify, this means that Tucker could make this R-rated if he wants, which would certainly fit with the source material, but that does not mean that he will or that the final product will turn out that way.
Just to clarify, James Tucker said he was given okay to make Killing Joke for R rating but added that doesn't mean he will. #nycc— Stitch Kingdom (@stitchkingdom) October 10, 2015
Tucker, who has worked on everything from the recent Justice League: Gods and Monsters to Batman Beyond and even Animaniacs, also chimed in following all of this to clear up any misunderstandings (news out of Comic Cons is a lot like playing a game of telephone), and he said:
Never fails that I get misquoted at a con! I'm not directing "Killing Joke" and what rating it gets won't be decided for a long time.— James Tucker (@JTuckerAnimator) October 10, 2015
Basically, all of this adds up to we don’t know what The Killing Joke will be rated, as it is still a ways off in the distance. But what is exciting for fans is that it appears DC Home Entertainment isn’t automatically going to shy away from the more vicious elements of the source material. One of the things some readers were worried about is that the comic, which is kind of nasty business at times, wouldn’t translate well to the animated format and that they would try to tone it down.
Written by Alan Moore, who is not known for being a ray of sunshine, the 1988 one-shot graphic novel is dark and bleak. It digs into the origins of the Joker, it deals with the supervillain’s plan to drive Commissioner James Gordon insane, and results in the paralysis of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl. The story dives deep into the psychology of Batman and the Joker, how they’re mirror images of each other, each just as unhinged as the other, and gives you a full blast of the Joker’s chaotic nihilism.
While Batman: The Killing Joke doesn’t necessarily need to be rated R in order to effectively adapted, there’s a quite a bit of violence, including the much debated ambiguous ending. More than anything, this just shows that DC really wants to get this right and do the source material justice. Whether or not it turns out that way remains to be seen, but it’s nice to know that they’re willing to go that far if necessary.