Skip Batman Killing Joke in theaters, save dud for a rainy day

Let us here at do you a favor: do not visit your metroplex Monday night (7/25) to see the animated film

The scene, despite the hype, is pretty soap-opera-on-a-weekday tame, except we’ve never seen the Caped Crusader in such a position. There’s been implied love or lust between the two characters onscreen before but the relationship has been more teacher-pupil, nee father-daughter than anything else, so to see the pair actually have, you know, feelings for one another, well, that’s too much to take for some people.

In today’s comic-book multi-verse, however, stories are adapted killingjokeor story arcs are adapted for each different show or movie that comes along. TV Flash is different than the one that will be in the movie Justice League.¬†Characters are killed off in one show that pop up in another.

DC really needs to attend to this issue. Hardcore fans understand what’s going on, but the casual viewer gets lost and expects Batman to always be the Batman they know.

TV Flash, for example, plans to use one of the most popular comic book arcs ever, FlashPoint, as a central theme for the show’s debut this fall. In the comics, Flash speeds back in time and changes — to avoid too many spoiler alerts — many things about his upbringing. Of course, those changes lead to other changes. Bruce Wayne is dead. His dad is Batman. Superman is a skinny captive held out of the sun who doesn’t know his own strength. Green Arrow is not Oliver Queen.

It will be difficult to bring that adaptation to the small screen, so expect some changes. And do those changes affect the other CW superhero shows, or do they not?

As we said, the way DC or writers handling DC characters are doing it now, it can become too much for the average viewer to understand, so they will look at a film like Killing Joke and expect the characters to be the ones they know and love. Only they are not.

This Batman is darker than most, and drawn to be older. Batgirl feels much younger, a woman who won’t date other men because she’s in love with the man who won’t pay her any attention. That’s real life.

The movie is actually two movies in one. One about Batgirl dealing with her “feelings” for her mentor (who obviously shares them) and a neophyte bad guy who thinks his mastery of technology will allow him to rule Gotham. Oh, and he’s got a big “thing” for Batgirl.

It’s a decently played out story and could’ve made a decent made-for-TV comic book movie, but it’s stopped short here, and attached with the Killing Joke arc, mainly because the comic book story that KJ is adapted from is very short.

So after the Bat team wins the day in Part I, Batman comes across some old Joker murders from three years prior and, for some reason, feels the need to confront his white faced enemy in jail figuring that sooner or later one of them will kill the other.

Only the guy Bats visits is a fake. Imprisoned for years, Joker busts out of jail (never explained) and proceeds to visit the Gordons and shoots Barbara in the belly, a direct shot which doesn’t kill her but leaves her paralyzed (we know, go figure).

Joker kidnaps Commissioner Gordon to lure Batman to an abandoned theme park where he tries to verbally assault him and kill him, after trying to make the Commissioner “go crazy” by dragging him through the park naked staring at pictures of his daughter’s bloody torso (pissed off? Definitely. Go all out loony bill? Nah).

Earlier in the film,¬†Joker is shown to have a fondness for prostitutes — and decides to rape bloody Barbara in an implied scene. Fueled with all this knowledge, Batman — who obviously loves Barbara and respects the Commissioner — goes after Joker. The fight is swift, of course, because Joker can’t fight and Batman is Batman.

But Batman’s choices of what to do next are curious given the situation. He actually never gets close to doing what you think he would, never even considers it really, and then the movie closes with the most bizarre unsatisfying ending we’ve ever seen in the series.

I was half waiting for the off-screen voice to come in and say, “so what does the Batman do next? Tune in next week, same Bat time, same Bat channel.”

It was great to see Mark Hamill come back and voice the Joker as only he can, but the Killing Joke was a bad movie, one that you should not waste time going to see in theaters Monday night. It’s worth a rental.