This will require some back story if you’re not familiar with the graphic novel. First, there’s the main theme: one bad day. The Joker gives a chilling monologue about how just one bad day could permanently change anyone, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the two characters that best showcase his point. We have Batman, created to make sure a city has a hero, and will bring justice to anyone that threatens it. Then we have the Joker, insanity and injustice incarnate. The Killing Joke also provides the series of events that finally drove Joker into madness…maybe. I don’t think we’ll ever find out his real story, but that’s for another time.
Second, we witness one of Joker’s most heinous acts. I would prefer not to spoil it because of those that still want to read the graphic novel, or see the movie adaptation. Let’s just say no one wanted to make a movie out of this because of that one particular scene, and the extreme torture and violence that occurs. Imagine my and almost every Batman fan’s shock upon learning that not only were we getting a movie, but that it would also be animated with several of the Batman: The Animated Series cast members lending their voices. On top of that, they officially gave it an R rating. This was pretty much my nerdy wet dream.
I was lucky enough to catch the premiere Fathom Event…and overall this is one of the most faithful adaptations I’ve ever seen, except for one glaring problem: the completely unnecessary “prologue”. For reasons that I still don’t understand, Batgirl was added, as well as a sex scene between her and Batman. My assumption is this was done to imply Batman had more than platonic feelings for Batgirl, which means what happens to her later on is even more horrifying. All this does is stretch out the run time from about 60 minutes to roughly 76. It just really doesn’t make sense, and it was a huge mistake on the writers’ part to add it in. Other than that, this…wasn’t completely terrible.
I give it 3/5. Ultimately, we get to see the symbolic relationship between Batman and Joker played out: opposite ends of the spectrum in almost every aspect, and yet it’s almost impossible to have one without the other. Mark Hamill will always be one the best voice for Joker in my opinion, and Kevin Conroy once again manages to bring the iconic, brooding voice to The Dark Knight. The “One Bad Day” monologue is absolutely the highlight of Hamill’s stint as Joker. I don’t know whose idea it was for that damn prologue, but they need to be fired. There was no purpose for turning Batgirl into what is basically a sex object. Also, it’s not who Batman is as a character to do something like that. The only real reason to watch this is because it is R rated nostalgia for those of us that grew up with the original animated series. I still say get it if you’re a huge DC fan.