During the SDCC panel for the DTV cartoon movie Justice League: Gods & Monsters this year, Bruce Timm dropped a whopper of a scoop: Warner Bros. Animation had finally been given the go-ahead to adapt the classic Joker tale, Alan Moore & Brian Bolland’s “Batman: The Killing Joke“. Fans rejoiced, sites were ablaze with stories, and some grumbled that the graphic novel was overrated and they were tired of hearing about it after 20-some years. Still, The Killing Joke is being treated with a level of interest for a DC animated property not seen in years. While WB Animation continues to churn out a few DTV DC animated films each year, most seem to slip by general audiences, who aren’t aware of their existence until they show up on store shelves.
We’ve learned some important details since that inaugural announcement. First off, Timm will be producing the project alongside James Tucker. Not a shocking turn of events, mind you, but it’s a fact nonetheless. Secondly, Sam Liu has been pegged as the project’s director. Liu is no stranger to directing animated films based on comic properties and he has a slew of both DC and Marvel titles to his name. All-Star Superman, Superman & Batman: Public Enemies, Hulk Vs., Planet Hulk, Thor: Son of Asgard, Batman: Year One, and Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths (the last two both co-directed with Lauren Armstrong) certainly give him the proper background for the job. While some of those films are better than others, he definitely has the required experience.
Also important is the fact that they actually scored Mark Hamill to voice The Joker for the film. While he has been involved in most video games featuring Joker (at least the Arkham ones, anyway) and a few toy-related things (a Minimates promo short and a Lego movie), Hamill hasn’t done a regular DC animated project since 2010 (The Spectre on “Batman: The Brave and the Bold“) and hasn’t voiced the Joker himself in animated form since 2003 when “Justice League” was still on the air. While retirement from the role has often been brought up, the real reason is money.
Hamill’s star might have waned as an on-screen after not long after the original Star Wars trilogy ended, but he’s been a top-tier, in demand voice actor for decades now. He doesn’t come cheap, but he always delivers the goods, and apparently that first point started to become an issue for Warner Bros.. They stopped paying, so he stopped playing. Still, he’s been asked about it a lot over the years and his answer about a potential return has always been this: if they ever do The Killing Joke, he would chase the gig. Now they finally are doing it and, true to his word, Hamill went after the role and is returning to it next year with this project.
Onto the latest development, it was revealed by James Tucker this weekend at New York Comic-Con that they have been given the “okay” to make this an R-rated adaptation if need be. Does that mean it WILL be rated R when it finally hits shelves next year? No. It simply means that Warner Bros. proper will not be finger-wagging at Warner Bros. Animation if the final cut of The Killing Joke happens to score an R-rating. They are not being restrained by having to tailor the material to a certain audience, leaving them with complete freedom to adapt the story as they see fit.
So there you have it! Bruce Timm & Co. are officially bringing forth an unrestrained, animated adaptation of The Killing Joke to stores near you in 2016, complete with Mark Hamill in tow as The Joker. Are you excited to see what comes of this? I certainly am.
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