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Batman: The Killing Joke raised eyebrows when it premiered at San Diego Comic-Con — and now Honest Trailers is upping the ante.
The controversial animated adaption of the acclaimed graphic novel was criticized for adding an extended introduction featuring a sexual encounter between Gordon/Batgirl (Tara Strong) and Batman (Kevin Conroy). The Comic-Con screening got heated when a fan, later revealed to be a freelance journalist who was covering the controversy, and Killing Joke screenwriter Brian Azzarello got into an argument over that scene.
Though the reaction at the Comic-Con screening was otherwise generally positive, the online the buzz was mixed, and the team at Honest Trailers is decidedly in the “thumbs down” camp.
This take from the Honest Trailers narrator sums up the team’s view: “Warner Bros. is fighting fire with gasoline, by adding even more Batgirl, except now she also gets roofied, flirts with a criminal who is giving her attention, has sex with her boss, complains about men and gets talked down to by a grown man in a batsuit … Prompting this strong female character to just give up and quit, and only then get victimized in the exact same way as the original source material.”
The Killing Joke was successful at the box office during its limited run, but has struggled to shake the controversy surrounding its additions to the story laid out in the 1988 graphic novel by writer Alan Moore and artist Brian Bolland. The original story featured Barbara Gordon/Batgirl getting brutalized by The Joker without establishing who she was as a person, and at Comic-Con, the team behind the animated adaptation explained they wanted to give the character her due by showing her career as a crime fighter first.
“I actually like that in that opening story both Batman and Batgirl make a series of mistakes and then it kind of escalates, because Batman kind of overreacts and then she overreacts to his overreaction,” longtime Batman Bruce Timm said at the Comic-Con panel. “That’s a very human thing.”
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