It was first announced at this years Comic Con International: San Diego that DC Animation will be adapting one of the best Batman/Joker stories ever written. While many may claim to be the best Batman/Joker story, we are or course talking about The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore with art by Brian Bolland.
Following the announcement of the animated adaptation – which is set to follow the upcoming Batwoman starring Bad Blood – long-time voice of the Clown Prince of Crime Mark Hamill stated he would be interested in returning to the role he retired from only a year or so ago. Of course, the definitive Joker story should have the definitive Joker voice, and fans collectively rallied behind this potential casting.
So there was no surprise when DC announced that Hamill would be reprising his role as The Joker for the adaptation. Hamill began his career as The Joker back in the ’90s for Batman: The Animated Series, and carried on with the character for The New Batman Adventures, Superman, Justice League, Static Shock, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman Beyond: Revenge of the Joker, Birds of Prey and even Robot Chicken. He also revisited the role in the video games, having voiced the character throughout the entire Arkham series, as well as a few other terrible games we choose not to mention. Seriously, they were bad.
We have seen a few other names try to tackle the voice of the Joker, with varying success. The best of that bunch is arguably John DiMaggio from Batman: Under the Red Hood, but it’s still hard to not hear Hamill’s near-perfect Joker voice when watching any other animated Joker.
As for The Killing Joke and why it’s such a fan favorite, the answer is simple. It’s a darkly beautiful look at what has become the mostly accepted origin story of the criminal known as The Joker. The graphic novel highlights his time as a struggling comedian and his eventual turn as the Red Hood, a criminal alias that pits him fatefully against the Batman.
It is during his first job as the Red Hood that he falls into a vat of toxins at Ace Chemicals, and becomes The Joker. This story is told concurrently with one of The Joker’s darkest moments from the comics, as he kidnaps Commissioner Gordon, shoots and paralyzes his daughter Barbara (AKA Batgirl), and then makes Gordon watch the footage of her implied abuse at Joker’s hands.
No word on how much we’ll see adapted into the animated film, but DC has been relatively unafraid of including some of these adult themes from their previous adaptations. We can’t wait to hear Hamill tackle one of the best Joker stories ever produced, and wait patiently for more casting news.
Looking at you, Kevin Conroy.