"Batman: The Killing Joke" the recently released animated adaptation of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's 1988 graphic novel, has proved to be just as controversial as its source material. The comic has long divided fans due to its treatment of Barbara Gordon, DC Comics' most famous Batgirl, who gets shot by the Joker and left paralyzed -- and, as widely has been interpreted, is also a victim of sexual assault by the villain.
"The Killing Joke" animated feature adds to Barbara Gordon's story, but also in controversial fashion -- including introducing a sexual relationship between Batman and Batgirl. But as primary cast members Kevin Conroy (the longtime voice of Batman in multiple animated project), Tara Strong (veteran voice actor who plays Batgirl in the adaptation) and Ray Wise (the "Twin Peaks" alum who voices Commissioner Gordon) told CBR last month in a video interview (view in full above) at Comic-Con International in San Diego, they embraced the changes made to the narrative.
"I was blown away by the script, and really excited to take Barbara places she's certainly never been before, and take on all these really serious acting beats," Strong told CBR. "Everybody came together so well -- there are so many moments between the characters that I took screenshots of. 'I want a picture of this in my house!' There are all these amazing moments that are so human, even though they're things the average human would never get to do. I love exploring all these new places with her."
"It was great how the writers fleshed out her character more than it was originally in the story," Conroy added. "They created that whole first third of the film that makes it so much richer."
"The Killing Joke" is DC's first animated feature to have an R-rating, relatively uncharted territory for any mainstream superhero adaptation, live-action or animated. (The "Ultimate Edition" home release of "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" was also rated R.) For Conroy, it was a matter of keeping true to Moore and Bolland's story.
"I think to be true to the original story, they have to go really dark with it, and have the R-rating that they got," Conroy said. "It's such an interesting story."
Conroy, of course, has voiced Batman since the beloved and celebrated "Batman: The Animated Series," which debuted in 1992 -- and was also produced by Bruce Timm, who produced "The Killing Joke." Even though that show was afternoon fare aimed at least partly at kids and "The Killing Joke" is specifically for adults, Conroy sees the two as more alike than you might guess.
"The trick for me has been to keep it fresh over all those years, and to be consistent, because the audience will tell in a second if you're not being true to the character," "The fun thing about this was the creative team behind it, and having Bruce Timm be the force behind it, because he was the force behind the original animated series. So it goes back to that real dark quality -- the noir quality. Mark and I being involved in it, against each other again. So much of it goes back to that original show. But it takes it up a notch. A couple notches. It's a much more adult and dramatic interpretation of that world."
"Batman: The Killing Joke" is on sale now, on digital platforms plus Blu-ray and DVD.