Kevin Conroy Reflects On The Killing Joke Backlash

Batman and Joker in The Killing Joke

As far as superheroes go, there's few characters quite as popular as DC's Batman. The Dark Knight is one of the most iconic heroes in comic history, and there have been plenty of versions of the character throughout the years. While moviegoers might be most concerned with the state of Ben Affleck's Batman in the DCEU, DC consistently releases animated features as well. One of the most recent was 2016's Batman: The Killing Joke, which adapted the iconic comic plot of the same name. But there were also liberal changes made to the story, especially when it came to the characterization of Batgirl. Many fans took umbrage with Batgirl's role in the movie, and the violence and sex depicted in the project, and now Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy has addressed the controversy, saying:

It wasn't that I wasn't happy with it, it just was that I was aware of how controversial it was. I appreciated that a lot of people were disturbed. I wasn't, but I just appreciated the fact that people were.

While Kevin Conroy doesn't take issue with the events of The Killing Joke, the long running Batman voice actor is cognizant of audience reaction. Batman is a character beloved by children and adults alike, and animated films are often presumed to be appropriate for kids. Unfortunately, The Joker's terrifying mission to break the minds of Jim Gordon and Batman is not one of those stories.

Kevin Conroy's comments make a great deal of sense, especially considering his tenure as the animated Dark Knight. Conroy first began voicing Bruce Wayne in Batman: The Animated Series, which was a project aimed toward a more adult audience. But the show was still made somewhat kid friendly, a move that wasn't repeated when it came to The Killing Joke.

During his same conversation with Red Carpet News, Kevin Conroy discussed the dichotomy of Batman's fanbase, and the challenge that comes with adapting stories in animated features, saying:

So The Killing Joke, the issue I had was that --- it was a great, mature story for Batman/Joker, but I know that a lot of the audience is still under 12, and that's rough. That's a rough story for people that young.

Much like Batman: The Animated Series, The Killing Joke wasn't exactly made for kids watching cartoons in the morning. The movie tackled heavy issues, and there are almost no kid-friendly moments.

Another controversy that surrounded Batman: The Killing Joke was the new storyline crafted for Batgirl. While fleshing out the character before she's eventually shot down and paralyzed by The Joker seems like a logical choice, she still functioned more as a proxy for Batman and Jim Gordon's stories. Additionally, the sexual relationship between Bruce and Barbara was controversial, as it's not a common aspect of their dynamic.

You can own a copy of Batman: The Killing Joke now. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.