The Killing Joke: A Lesson In How To Nail It



I’ve loved Batman and his dark and dirty city for many years now and one thing you see as a DC fan is multiple interpretations of the stories and characters we love so much.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have high hopes for The Killing Joke. I walked in to that special screening clutching my popcorn, jaw clenched in anticipation.

I took my seat three rows from the front, thankful that this time that I’d remembered my glasses and settled in for two hours of rollercoaster emotions.


If you haven’t read The Killing Joke, sort out your priorities and don’t read any further. You’ve been warned.


I bought my deluxe edition hardcopy of the graphic novel in Boston. I was so eager to get in to it I curled up in the front seat of our bus and read it cover to cover in one leg of our drive to New York. I wore my sunnies to disguise the embarrassing amount of tears I shed and bit my lip to keep in the gasps. I fucking love comic books.

As a big Harley fan I’ve mainly stuck to stories involving her so TKJ for me was a whole new level of darkness. I was enthralled. It showed flashbacks of the Joker’s past which almost painted him in a sympathetic light. Suddenly it all makes sense! His psychopathic behaviour, his deranged attitude… But, the events that follow make you question everything. His determination to turn the moral compass of the series mad filled my chest with anger and frustration. Gordon is too good. He deserves so much better.

When I finished my book and watched the trailer for the feature length adaptation I prayed they would do it justice. They did so much better than just that. They added a feel to the story I couldn’t have predicted.

We began with a beautiful interview with the amazing Mark Hamill. THE Joker, in my mind. He was so humble. Hearing his voice again took me back to my childhood love of the series and with that I was ready. Bring on the carnage!


Our opening story, narrated by the wonderful Batgirl, had me on the edge of my seat. Where I once so empathised with Harley and her love of danger, I now found my heart strings pulled by the lovely Barbara. Oh dear. I’m a Barb. I can’t wait to read her comics and learn more about her but the insight I gained from the first half of this feature has already got me on team Batgirl. Sadly I think we’re a little too similar. Always falling for the Batman….

Anyway! Knowing her fate made me incredibly emotional when she and Bruce shared that moment on the rooftop. It was amazing. Doesn’t that make it so much worse?


This also further fuelled my anger when we are greeting by a smiling Joker when she answers her door. I’ve just bonded with this woman! Don’t take her away from me already! Of course, she lives, but not before horrendously graphic photos of her were used to try drive her father insane; a man who I see as the strongest and most righteous of any I’ve crossed. He’s so moral, yet it never comes across in a negative way. You want to do right by him. He’s just so well written and I understand completely Batman’s bond with him.


The fairground ride juxtaposed with the most fucked up musical number you’ve ever heard sent shivers down my spine.

When I’m confronted with scenes like this, and being such a daddy’s girl myself, I couldn’t help but imagine my own Papi’s reaction to being in this situation. I’m sure he’d ring the neck of anyone or anything he could get his hands on. I’d do the same. For Gordon to cry out ‘by the book‘ as he sends Batman after the Joker, just goes to show what an epic man he is. Beyond human. He sees the bigger picture.


The ending of The Killing Joke is superb. The laughter rang through the theatre. I heard the fans cackling along and those unfamiliar with the source material left with very confused looks on their faces. This is why I love the DC universe. It’s fucked.

The closing interviews with the composers and artists rounded out a fantastic experience. I marvelled at their genius. I’ve always admired composers for their incredible ability to make you feel things before you even know what’s happening. I felt like that throughout the entire feature; despite knowing what was going to happen, my heart was in my throat!

Thank you to every amazing creative involved in the production of this masterpiece.


You definitely didn’t let this little nerd down.

Thank you friends for reading my review!

Harleigh Q



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