I found a clip of the Batman/Batgirl scene from Killing Joke and added it to my review, so feel free to have a look if you haven’t already seen it.
One thing to keep in mind is that TKJ was never meant to be canon; it was an alternate story. It simply steamrolled past its original purpose and became one of the most compelling & galvanizing events in comics history, even more so now with having garnered so much mileage out of it DC made the utterly ridiculous decision to retcon the whole thing, which only cements the movie’s role as a cash cow than the next step in cinematic continuity.
The R-rating is both well earned and deserved. In both stories we get graphic violence – dismemberments, gunshots, bodies, etc- and while not so much nudity some very direct handling of mature and sexual themes. Notable is the fetishization of Batgirl by the villain in the first story- down to having a call girl wearing a bat mask- and that one scene everyone’s talking about.
What’s Bad: The disconnect the first part has with the rest of the movie. It’s a completely separate story and you’d think it would tied into the bigger story but ultimately has no bearing on anything, other than perhaps to build the emotional connection to Barbara. There’s literally nothing to tie the two together other than the characters, and it makes you wonder why they bothered.
As a nitpick there was one part of the Joker’s speech about madness to Batman that I noticed was left out: about how a key factor to the start of World War I was how many telegraph poles Germany owed their creditors. No idea why that one didn’t make the cut.
What’s Good: I did like the first story about Batgirl’s relationship with Batman. Is it hero worship or something more? As Barbara Gordon, she voices her frustrations to a co-worker, who naturally doesn’t quite understand the dynamics of this “thing” she has or doesn’t have with her “yoga instructor”. (She likes the “yoga”).
“He’s demanding; he’s always been demanding- and controlling! But I can’t just find another class! There isn’t one; this is it! And I’m good! He won’t say it, but I’m the best damn student he’s ever had! So if he’s gonna start making decisions based on emotions- of which he has ZERO- then I think we’ve got a problem!” Ok, then.
It works well as a standalone. It’s actually pretty good; it completely drew me in before it fizzled out. The story opens with Batgirl assisting Batman on what seems like a simple getaway after a robbery, but the thieves are more resourceful that expected, giving Batgirl the slip. But the embarrassment of the incident leads crime boss Francesco to order his nephew Paris Franz, to reimburse him for his losses or else. Paris already has his eye on his uncle’s businesses and, in true psycho-sociopathic fashion, happens to have a ‘thing’ for Batgirl. Bats doesn’t want her involved; Paris’ attraction to her makes it even more dangerous and can lead you right to the edge of the abyss. And it’s not a view you want to take in.
A lucky break leads Batgirl right to Paris, but he gets away again. Batman, recognizing what Paris is all about, orders her not to take him on without him there, which gets her back up. Paris lays a trail for her to follow- right to his uncle’s body. This leads us to *that scene*.
Now I wholly understand the outrage, I do. Aside from the squick factor both the buildup and the scene itself was awkward and felt literally just inserted in (pun intended). But I think the outrage has more to do with Batgirl’s reaction in the aftermath than the sex itself.
If there was somewhere to go with this, if it had built towards something, I think it would’ve all worked out fine. But it didn’t. After the case is wrapped up, their big talk is Barbara informing Batman she’s retiring as Batgirl and… that’s it. The only acknowledgement of what happened between them is that they’re too close now and it’s time for her to step back from the abyss. So I guess she got her wish after all.
When we finally get to the Killing Joke itself, it’s a faithful adaptation of the comic. It’s stellar in that regard, but not without a few flaws. Like all adaptations, familiarity with the material is both helpful and harmful. It helps because it takes a few shortcuts with dialogue; some things could’ve been expanded and fleshed out a little without missing a beat. But writer Brian Azzarello must’ve figured the fans already knew, so just stuck to the story panels, making for some choppy exposition; without captions to expound on the situation we have to rely on the script, and the script needed some beefing up.
The animation is also great: the visual style is directly drawn from Brian Bolland’s artwork, right down to Batman’s ears on his cowl. The mix of CGI into the animations is pretty flawless, even when obvious in some scenes. All the iconic visuals are present: the Joker’s appearance at Barbara’s apartment (his eyes!), Batman’s visit to Arkham, Jim Gordon’s ghost ride through the tunnel- all there, as well as the flashbacks of the Joker’s past leading up to that fateful night at the chemical plant. There’s also a few new wrinkles: the Joker performs a musical number while Gordon rides through the tunnel and sees the up close photos of his daughter, Batman’s search for his prey who oddly hasn’t returned to his usual haunts.
And I’d be remiss without mentioning the outstanding work of Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy reprising their roles. Felt like old times.
The finale remains ambiguous, as it should. The idea of Batman strangling Joker to finally put an end to their conflict is left to the imagination, and since it’s an alternate storyline, whatever ending suits you is fine.
What’s Left: overall an odd offering from DC. The first part, while entertaining, is rendered pretty meaningless other than for shock value and, according to the internet, they got it in spades. You really can skip right past it and go straight to the main event, which won’t disappoint in the slightest. In fact, it’ll put a smile on that face. Batman: The Killing Joke kills it.
Can someone explain what the hell Jesse Eisenberg was supposed to be doing? Some have tried to spin his portrayal as ‘nerd rage’- the modern day mogul, ala Mark Zuckerberg or Martin Shkreli. Even so, those men have a method to their madness, a logic to their puzzle. This Lex Luthor is no genius, no grand chessmaster. He’s just a broken, whiny brat taking out his daddy issues on Superman. And please- none of his ‘experiments’ were anything you couldn’t have done in high school science lab. Any modern day 10th grade nerd could’ve pulled all that off. Eisenberg’s Luthor is nothing more than a cheap Joker imitation- destroying things and killing people just because he thinks he should- right down to his motif in the soundtrack. Even Hans Zimmer knew what he was dealing with when he wrote the music.
And on a personal note, Gal Gadot’s character should be called Willowy Woman, not Wonder Woman. While certainly statuesque, there’s nothing remotely Amazonian about her. Other than simply introducing the character she lends nothing to the proceedings, snarling her way through the big battle and somehow causing a shock wave with her bracelets. Rumor has it they’ll be eschewing her classic origin and making her Zeus’ thousand year old daughter- a demigoddess. Why- too much work to build a mythology for her… from the existing mythology?
Eventually you’re gonna be reduced to playing “Spot the Reference”. This movie draws a lot of influence from Miller’s classic Dark Knight storyline; I’ll admit it was kinda fun spotting them and I saw some of them coming, especially in that one sequence with Doomsday, but if you weren’t familiar with Dark Knight you’d be left behind. A plot hook is lifted from Alex Ross’ Peace on Earth and there’s a moment from Crisis on Infinite Earths; you’ll know them when you see them.
The Dark Knight angle is a big part of the problem: exactly which incarnation of Batman is this supposed to be? The whole thing about the Justice League is all of them coming up together yet this movie clearly marks Batman as an elder statesman, already having twenty years wearing a cowl, an established Rogues Gallery and losing at least one partner. By the time the League finally hits stride Bats is gonna be ready to retire.
This seemingly minor plot point also undermines the entire premise of the movie. Superman is under scrutiny for acting unilaterally, with no accountability for his actions or their consequences… you know, like all the constant, wholescale property damage he engages in. Yet the entire beef with Batman is that he’s a vigilante running rampant in Gotham, even while Kent acknowledes that the police seem to be actively support him, and even have a formal method of contacting him- the Bat Signal. Add to this the fact that now Gotham & Metropolis are now Sister Cities, yet no one in either knows jack all about what goes on across the river from them. So Bats has been active for 20 years, but Clark Kent/Superman & the Daily Planet are just now getting around to him. Batman operates in cooperation with Gotham City’s authorities- which is only mentioned when convenient and the very thing that Superman is under attack for not doing- yet Superman takes it upon himself to tell Batman to shut it down or else, simply because *he* doesn’t like it.
Plus during the over-extended fight sequences during the third act, Superman could’ve easily kept Batman in check while explaining the situation to him, yet he doesn’t, so we get an entirely pointless beat-em-up scene. And when Superman reveals that Doomsday is Kryptonian, just like he is, it take ten minutes plus a lot of explosions and crumbling architecture for Batman to remember that he left a whole load of kryptonite weapons back at the fight and he should just go get them.
As far as the future members of the League, all I can say is: huh? Somehow Luthor has all this surveillance footage and archival references on them, but no one else does? Barry Allen is caught Flashing around on a convenience store surveillance camera, yet this never made it to the news? Aquaman is discovered on a deep sea expedition camera, but no one ever heard of it? Oh yeah- 20 years of Batman and no news stories… right, sorry. The real problem is DC doesn’t want to do the prepwork and take the time of building a mythology to draw on and opted for shoehorning it all together so they could rush it out to ya.
Oh yeah- and how in blazes does Luthor know Superman’s identity? How does Supes suddenly know Batman is Bruce? When did they find all this stuff out?
Is your head hurting yet?
Last but not least, the sequel tease. In the finale Luthor ominously refers to someone coming…someone from the stars who’s hungry, which leads to a call-back to an earlier scene about the devil descending from Heaven instead of Hell. Be sure to check Bruce’s dream sequence in the wasteland (the one where Superman pulls off his mask) for the huge symbol on the ground. Might be a stretch, but it’s as good a theory as anything else and at least it’d provide a reason to introduce the Green Lantern Corps.
Bacon Flavored Seaweed, Batman vs Superman, DC Comics Gets Gritty, Deep Fried Lasagna, Dorkly, Foodbeast, Marvel Comics Hip Hop Albums, Naked Baristas, Nestle, Piano Guys, Pluto, Saturday Morning Cartoons, Wonder Woman
Let’s get this party started with some really important news: BACON FLAVORED SEAWEED!!! Now Vegans can finally get their groove on!
Now back to our regularly scheduled amusements.
You up for some Deep Fried Lasanga Rolls? I know I am.
To promote their new au naturel coffee creamer, Nestle set up shop with naked baristas- and some customers- covered only in body paint.
This is pretty smooth: the Piano Guys performing 50 years of Batman Music.
Speaking of Batman, Dorkly shows us the progression of grittiness in DC comics movies.
The new Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer that premiered at ComicCon.
And finally, Marvel Comics’ daring recreation of some classic Hip-Hop album covers. Scroll through to see the comparisons to the originals.
See ya next time.
First off are some Mac & Cheese Mozzarella Bombs from Foodbeast.
Straight Outta Japan (where else?) All Nippon Airways is proud to bring us a brand spanking new Star Wars-themed airplane… and it looks like R2D2. When you visit the page, click the View Details link for a good look at the plane.
In our Weeping for Humanity catergory comes this little gem: Uber-feminists destroying urinals to combat male chauvanism.
Which leads right into The Verge talking about a horror film from MTV that’s truly a reflection of our times: Unfriended. You won’t know whether to laugh or cry. I suggest turning off the computer and going for a walk in the sunshine.
Other trailers on the queue: Batman vs Superman- Dawn of Justice. Aside from my lack of confidence in Zack Snyder, there’s the unanswered question of which Batman is this? He hasn’t been rebooted yet, so is this the Christian Bale version who already gave up the cowl?
Marvel Universe continues to expand by bringing us Ant-man.
And last, but not least, the geek moment you’ve been waiting for. Enjoy. 🙂