Arriving in stores this August, Warner Bros. Animation's latest DC animated feature will adapt the classic Alan Moore and Brian Bolland story "The Killing Joke." The rated R film will also reunite voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker; the actors previously played opposite each other in "Batman: The Animated Series."
Now, a new batch of stills from the animated feature have arrived via Empire, and they include a still from the story's controversial scene wherein the Joker attacks the Gordon household.
Empire also spoke with the lead voice actors as well as producer Bruce Timm about the project. "I can't imagine how people are going to react to this, because I'm a 'Killing Joke' purist," said Hamill, who voices the Joker. "When they first talked about it, I said, 'The only way we can do this is as a book on tape so that we honor every comma, every word, every letter, every syllable of Alan Moore's script. We can add music and special effects to enhance it.' They kind of said, 'What are you talking about? Nobody is doing this as a book on tape. It's not commercially viable for us to do it that way. See if you can get the rights and record it in your basement or something if that's what you want to do. This story has to be expanded.' If we just adapted The Killing Joke as an animated film, it would maybe be fifty-five minutes. They've actually done a really incredible job of supplementing it with Barbara Gordon/Batgirl material."
There will be a new prologue showing Batgirl in action alongside Batman, taking place before the events of "The Killing Joke." Barbara Gordon's role in the story itself is a controversial one, as this is the storyline where Joker shoots Batgirl, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.
Timm spoke to the story's violence and the years it took to get production started on this adaptation. "A couple of years later, it came up again and we even had started production with character designs and stuff. But then that horrible shooting at the 'Dark Knight Rises' theater happened and everybody got nervous again about it, because of gun violence, so we put it back on the shelf," said Timm. "Go forward a couple of more years and it came up again. At this point we kind of looked at the whole thing and felt if we were going to do it, there were certain things about the original story that had always kind of bothered me. I mean the idea of adapting this story always kind of terrified me, because of how relentlessly grim and bleak it is. And what happens to Barbara Gordon in the story is very controversial to this day."
Based on Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's famed comic of the same name, and featuring the voices of Kevin Conroy (Batman), Mark Hamill (The Joker), Tara Strong (Batgirl) and Ray Wise (Commissioner Gordon), "Batman: The Killing Joke" is set to premiere at Comic-Con International in San Diego this July, with Digital HD release on July 26, and Blu-ray & DVD set for release on August 2.