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The following story contains spoilers for The Killing Joke! You have been warned...
Arguably no comic book character has a library of iconic stories that rivals that of Batman. Over the years the Caped Crusader has been on numerous adventures across page and screen, with each one adding to his increasingly legendary mythos. However, we will soon get the most highly anticipated Batman adaptation to date when DC animation finally brings us the long-awaited, R-rated version of Batman: The Killing Joke.
We really cannot understate how excited we are for The Killing Joke to finally be committed to film. Alan Moore's iconic graphic novel set the standard for Batman stories, and the movie version will bring back the amazing Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill into their respective roles as Batman and The Joker. We're sure that the movie will have more than a few surprises, but we've compiled a list of 10 key moments from The Killing Joke that need to happen in the upcoming movie. It's a dark and dreary tale of violence and death, so we hope you're ready for No. 1:
Batman's Initial Plea To Joker
Alan Moore's iconic graphic novel, Batman: The Killing Joke doesn't begin with a bombastic action scene or a brutal fistfight. It begins with civil (if one-sided) conversation. Batman realizes that he simply can no longer continue fighting The Joker like this. The two of them find themselves on a collision course, and they both know that someone eventually will break and die. Batman's initial plea to the Clown Prince of Crime shows that The Dark Knight cares about the well being of even his most hated foe, and that he wants to try one more time to reform this eternal villain. It's a beautiful moment, albeit soured by the fact that he's sitting across from an imposter Joker.
The Failed Stand-Up Comedian
Theories range regarding whether or not The Killing Joke showcases the actual origin of The Joker. Some believe he genuinely was a failed stand-up comedian, while others believe that this origin story represents one of many tales he has created about himself throughout his career as a Batman rogue. Either way, Alan Moore's depiction of Joker's tragic origin as a struggling stand-up comedian adds new layers of depth to the admittedly (and gloriously) one-note villain. We want to see this previous life explored even further in the film.
Barbara Gordon Getting Shot
It's no secret that The Killing Joke will feature the paralysis of Barbara Gordon at some point during the film's run time. This represents a pivotal moment in the source material, and it's something that the filmmakers cannot sweep under the rug. However, we as an audience need to see the vicious, hard R gunshot in all its brutal glory because the book never held back in its depiction of the violence. The way Barbara doubles over upon the impact of the bullet has always sent shivers down our spines -- no pun intended -- and the movie needs to share that same penchant for brutality to sell the scene.
The Death of The Comedian's Wife
The Joker clearly knows all too well that it only takes one bad day to drive a simple man to the brink of sanity. In a graphic novel chock full of somber and tragic moments, the death of The Joker's pregnant wife easily places near the top. He becomes a criminal to try and support his family, but at the end of the day, she dies far away from his loving arms and he still finds himself forced into taking a group of mobsters to the Ace chemicals facility. The Killing Joke movie can pull no punches with the amount of tragedy present in Joker's backstory, and it needs to have no qualms with truly selling his one bad day.
The Joker Torturing Jim Gordon
Fans of The Killing Joke know all too well that the paralysis of Barbara Gordon only represents the beginning of Commissioner Gordon's hellish evening. The Clown Prince of Crime takes the head of Gotham City's police department and subjects him to an array of tortures, ranging from physical abuse to having to look at naked pictures of his gruesomely wounded daughter as he is dragged naked through a carnival by a group of freaks. It's a terrifying sequence in the source material, and Brian Bolland's art sells it each and every time that we open the book.
Red Hood Falling In The Chemicals
In what has become known as the definitive Joker origin story, the failed comedian's life comes to an abrupt end when an encounter with The Batman sends him flying over a railing into a vat of chemicals. It's a sequence that has been emulated many times in Tim Burton's movies, the Arkham video games, and writer Scott Snyder even recently rebooted it during the Zero Year story arc in the comics. Batman has only truly failed a handful of times over the course of his career, and his failure to stop Red Hood from falling into the chemicals ranks towards the top of the list.
Birth of The Joker
Out of all the iconic panels present in Alan Moore's The Killing Joke, none has managed to rival the iconography of The Joker's birth. Seeing his reflection after the cumulative trauma of "one bad day," the comedian's mind completely snaps and he finds himself reborn as the absolutely insane Clown Prince of Crime. It's an iconic image that even Jared Leto's Joker emulated during the marketing for Suicide Squad, and we want to see it faithfully adapted by the folks at DC animation.
Joker's "One Bad Day" Monologue
The entire thesis of The Killing Joke can pretty much be boiled down the frames of Joker's "One Bad Day" monologue. After Batman has rescued James Gordon from his hellish prison, The Dark Knight sets out to take down his longtime foe once and for all. As Batman makes his way through a variety of traps, The Joker lectures him about the futility of sanity, and the ease with which one can simply let go and embrace the madness of the world around them. Joker sees the funny side of things, but he simply cannot fathom why someone like Batman -- who has clearly suffered similar traumas -- isn't laughing. This is one of the few scenes in the movie where the filmmakers can really ramp up the action and show the brutality of Batman's fight to finally catch up with his arch foe.
Batman's Final Plea
Usually when Batman catches up with The Joker at the end of a story he beats the living pulp out of the laughing madman. At the end of The Killing Joke, Batman makes one last plea to his archenemy to try and make peace -- echoing his sentiment at the beginning of the story, and honoring Jim Gordon's request to bring him in "by the book." It's one of the few moments in the history of the comics where The Joker stops smiling, and almost looks remorseful for the chaos that he has caused. DC animation has done such an amazing job of making him look insane all these years; we want them to show us a brief but poignant chink in this lunatic's armor.
"The Killing Joke"
The Joker rebuffs Batman's offer, and then proceeds to tell a joke about two lunatics who decide to escape from an insane asylum in his final "killing" joke. Above all else, there's one definitive thing that we NEED The Killing Joke to give us: an ambiguous ending. Legendary writer Grant Morrison recently proposed the theory that the final panels of The Killing Joke show Batman reaching out to the Joker's neck, and snapping it as they stand laughing together in the rain. It's a beautiful fan theory, and we want the movie to honor that idea by simply fading out in the exact same way that the book does. Does The Joker live, or does he die? We will never know.