By Nolan P. Smith
(Victor Valley)– Smile!
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is making history with the controversial animated film, Batman: The Killing Joke. For the first time in the nine-year history of the DC Universe Original Movie franchise, a film is officially R rated, rated by the MPAA. The previous films throughout the years have always been either PG or PG-13.
If you are not familiar with The Killing Joke, it tells the frightening tale of the origin for the clown prince of crime himself, The Joker. Even better, the voices that made Batman: The Animated Series a massive hit are back as well, with Kevin Conroy donning the cape and cowl as Batman and Mark Hamill bringing the demented Joker to life like only he can.
Since its inception in 2007, the DC Universe Original Movie franchise has brought classic and current DC Comics stories and characters to animated life through a series of primarily PG-13 rated films. Throughout the 26-film history of this popular franchise, Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment have crafted animated productions that appeal to the adult fan – from adaptations of fan favorite stories (Superman: Doomsday, Justice League: The New Frontier, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) to liberal adaptations of contemporary tales (Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, Batman: Bad Blood, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox) to original narratives (Batman: Gotham Knight, Wonder Woman, Justice League: Gods & Monsters).
Animation visionary Bruce Timm guided the DC Universe Original Movie franchise for its initial 16 films, then returned last summer with his own original story, Justice League: Gods & Monsters. Timm takes the reigns once again for Batman: The Killing Joke, reuniting a trio of actors (Conroy, Hamill & Tara Strong) from the game-changing Batman: The Animated Series cast to add even greater reverence to this heralded tale. Recognizing the fans’ dedication to the highly acclaimed graphic novel, Timm has worked meticulously to accurately maintain the intense adult content of The Killing Joke.
“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, Warner Bros. Animation & Warner Digital Series. “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.”
At this time, there are no plans for an edited, PG-13 version of the film.
A two-time Eisner Award winner written by renowned comics author Alan Moore, Batman: The Killing Joke has maintained an unparalleled popularity throughout its 28 years of existence – as evidenced by its ranking as the best-selling graphic novel of 2015. Batman: The Killing Joke was greenlit in 2013 and announced in July 2015 at Comic Con International in San Diego.
Batman: The Killing Joke also features the voices of Tara Strong (Teen Titans; Batman: Arkham games), as Barbara Gordon and Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, RoboCop) as Commissioner Gordon. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will host the film’s World Premiere at Comic-Con International this summer, and see a subsequent release in 2016 on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD.