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Why The Batman: The Killing Joke Movie Was Delayed For So Long

Few Batman stories have developed the sort of iconography enjoyed by Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke. The graphic novel took famous DC characters to an unprecedented level of darkness and forever changed the way we look at the mythos of the Caped Crusader. This summer will finally see the release of the long-awaited animated adaptation of the iconic tale, which we obviously cannot wait for. However, the story originally hit shelves in 1988, which begs one major question: why did the film take so long to get made?


During a recent interview with Empire about the upcoming release of Batman: The Killing Joke, producer Bruce Timm explained why it has taken so long for the project to come to fruition. He said:

...Right around the time we were ramping up, the Watchmen movie was released and underperformed. Everybody kind of took a step back and said, ‘Well, maybe the time's not right for an R-rated superhero movie, so put it on the shelf.’ A couple of years later, it came up again and we even had started production with character designs and stuff. But then that horrible shooting at the Dark Knight Rises theater happened and everybody got nervous again about it, because of gun violence, so we put it back on the shelf.


As much as we hate to admit it, the film industry is a reactive business, and real world events can have a dramatic impact on artistic vision. The not-so-great performance of Watchmen at the box office in 2009 put The Killing Joke on ice for years because Warner Bros wondered whether or not an R-rated superhero film should even materialize. Following that, just when they had dusted the project off, the tragic shooting at the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises occurred in Aurora, Colorado, and once again derailed the project because of the story’s similarly grisly depiction of gun violence. The Killing Joke features some truly dark material – ranging from the brutal paralysis of Batgirl to the horrific psychological torture of Commissioner Gordon – so the timing had to be just right.


It’s not that hard to see why The Killing Joke would put studio executives on edge. Just take a look at the trailer for the upcoming animated feature below. It’s abundantly clear that it’s darker than even the most hardcore live-action superhero movies:


After years of waiting, we will finally get a proper adaptation of The Killing Joke that we have all clamored for. With icons like Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill returning to their respective roles as The Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime, Batman: The Killing Joke could become one of the most definitive Batman stories ever committed to film.


We will keep you up to date with all of the latest and greatest news related to the upcoming Killing Joke animated feature as it becomes available to us. The film will be made available on Digital HD on July 23, and Blu-Ray/DVD on August 2.

Conner Schwerdtfeger
Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.