Batman: The Killing Joke isn’t kidding around. Warner Bros’. direct-to-video animated film based on the notorious Alan Moore comic has been rated R. EW got the exclusive directly from the studio’s home entertainment division.
The Killing Joke marks the first film in the DC Universe Original Movie franchise to receive an R rating, and the second Batman movie to do so. (The extended home-video version of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was the first.)
Starring Kevin Conroy as the voice of Batman/Bruce Wayne, Mark Hamill as the Joker, and Tara Strong as Batgirl/Barbara Gordon, The Killing Joke is an origin story that finds the Clown Prince of Crime taunting the Dark Knight by capturing and torturing Batgirl. The original comic was published in 1988 and remains polarizing, with some hailing it as a definitive Joker story and others criticizing it as misogynistic.
Considering that Tara Strong is also the voice actress of Harley Quinn, Mark Hamill has made a second career of (verbally) abusing Ms Strong the same way he verbally abused Bib Fortuna in his first career.
“From the start of production, we encouraged producer Bruce Timm and our team at Warner Bros. Animation to remain faithful to the original story — regardless of the eventual MPAA rating,” said Sam Register, president of Warner Bros. Animation & Warner Digital Series, in a statement. “The Killing Joke is revered by the fans, particularly for its blunt, often-shocking adult themes and situations. We felt it was our responsibility to present our core audience — the comics-loving community — with an animated film that authentically represented the tale they know all too well.”
There are currently no plans for an edited PG-13 version of the film.
Batman: The Killing Joke will make its world premiere at Comic-Con International in San Diego this summer, with a release on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD to follow later in the year.