Was the Killing Joke That Bad?

It’s gone from the most hyped to the most hated, but did the Killing Joke really offend as much as people say?

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About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.


  1. Strangefacts101

    It looks like any generic DC animated movie. The animation style just doesn’t fit. I was hoping for something more like the Spawn Animated series.

  2. Wait a minute? R rated? It’s PG in Canada? Is our version edited or something? Don’t tell me I missed some batgirl nudity?

  3. I plainly just don’t care about it.
    (Through it was still a bad idea when it was in comic book form, it’s still one in animated form.)

  4. There is no doubt that first third is what ruined adaption of Killing Joke. So yeah, without that part it would had been actually good. With that first third it’s just okay adaption of comic book story that many like. Granted that I not among those people but still.

    • Basically. Comic was good as it was, but by adding that totally pointless part with Batman making out with Batgirl, they basically try cash in on the shippers and add cheap ass justification why her wounds were big deal. Not that they didn’t have history and he was mentor for her like in the comic.. but because he was horny creep who make sex with his friend adopted doughtier. Boo ho..

  5. The song number from the Joker is actually directly lifted from the comic.

    For me, the Killing Joke would have to have been more than just OK, to make up for the god-awfulness of the prologue. And what annoys me more is that there were ways that time could’ve been better used. A prologue could’ve worked, but not like this. Note Jim Gordon and Barbara aren’t in the same room together until the scene where the Joker arrives.

    • He said “not that it wasn’t in the comic”.. so he said it was. His point was that they could make it more interesting in the animation, as in the comic it is just the song because.. you can’t really put song in the comic. You put more a fact that song occurred so they didn’t care, but in animation it was quite weak.

      • Full quote from the editorial – “There are one or two differences though, like there’s a song sequence when the Joker is torturing commissioner Gordon. Now that’s not in the original but let’s be honest if the Joker thought he could put one in, he would”

  6. If you ask me, it should have been PG-13, since there wasn’t really anything R-rated about it.

  7. the problem was that it did not expand the story in any way but added something fully unnecessary and stupid the rest I felt had the Problem that the animation did not convey the emotions and the brilliant acting (that part I really liked) of Mark hammil and Kevin Konroy

    for exampel the moment when the joker loses his mind he needs to move around like one of the mushroom zombies in the last of us showing how nuts he is going

  8. It’s not bad. Just disappointing. The first 3rd of the movie, I can do without completely. That part was just pointless filler to justify this as a full-length movie.

  9. For me, part of the issue with the Killing Joke is that when the original story first came out, it was really revolutionary and groundbreaking that a lot of later stories followed in its footsteps since. Since the books release, tons of other stories have come out that have done much more things for comic books characters, even Batman. Following this story, we had things like The Joker beating Robin with a crowbar and then killing him by blowing him up. We’ve seen so many things like this that now, for many reading the Killing Joke after seeing so many other Batman stories, the Killing Joke may seem fairly run of the mill compared to things such as The Joker making all the members of the Bat-family think he’s cut their faces off, or having his face cut off and then held on with a belt, or making Superman beat a pregnant Lois Lane to death and nuking Metropolis. Even Bruce Timm has said that even though the book does get a Mature-Readers rating in reprints and 20th Anniversary editions, the film wasn’t too far away from getting a PG-13 rating instead of the R that it got.

  10. The designs of the characters & background is off tbh, it doesn’t look or feel like a classic comic-book. It’s too generic & bland, too clean. It’s not “dirty enough”. Even the colors seems off.
    I don’t like the art style of DC in general and it’s even worse with the killing joke, it’s too modern maybe.

  11. Hey, what do you have to say about that director you and other internet critics have been rallying against just revealed his daughter killed herself two months ago? Got anything to say about that?

    • Maybe, “What the hell does that have to do with anything?” It sucks that she killed herself and my condolences go out to Snyder and his family, but that doesn’t mean we have to start worshiping Snyder’s art just to make him feel good. That would be so much more insulting than giving his movies honest reviews.

      • The Real Silverstar


        What happened with Snyder’s daughter was a tragedy, but that doesn’t mean that we should all start sucking up to the man and pretend that he hasn’t made some questionable creative decisions that some people don’t agree with because of it. We get that you’re a Zack Snyder fanboy, but quite frankly, using the suicide of his kid as leverage to go “Ha! Now you gotta stop criticizing his movies because of this!” is a *very* dickish move on your part. IMHO, what you’re doing with the Snyder family’s personal tragedy is far more reprehensible than a few internet critics/comedians poking fun at a few movies.

        I offer Mr. Snyder my sincerest condolences, but I still didn’t like Man of Steel.

        • I actually did like Man of Steel BUT that’s the ONLY Snyder film I’ve ever liked so yeah.

          And I agree, pretending to like his movies would be sickening!

    • handsomefatman

      Snyder’s shitty art and the tragedy his family suffered are not related. Be quiet.

    • Are you suggesting that this tragedy is somehow Doug’s fault? There’s no reason whatsoever for Doug to take on any responsibility for Zak Snyder’s loss. None of these internet critics owe Snyder an apology for not liking his movies, and it’s in poor taste to suggest that they do. Doug doesn’t have to say anything about it unless he chooses to address it. I get that you like Snyder’s work, but seriously, don’t be a dick.

      Zak Snyder’s personal life and his professional life are two separate things. It’s sad news, to be sure, and something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but this news doesn’t suddenly make “Batman V Superman” a good movie, nor does it make Snyder a good director choice for the DCEU. Furthermore, since Zak Snyder didn’t direct this video, that point is irrelevant to this discussion.

    • RedMilleniumRanger

      That has nothing to do with anything. Does it suck that his daughter killed herself? Yes, it absolutely does and I give my sincerest condolences to the Snyder family. Does that make me automatically like MoS or BvS? No, I still think they are terrible movies.
      As a comparison, I absolutely hate Donald Trump and think he should not be in office. However; if one of his kids killed themselves, I would be sympathetic. Why? Because no matter who you are or what you’ve done in life, no one deserves to lose a child, especially not through suicide.

    • Are you freaking retarded? This is not the place to be asking that, you disrespectful moron. >:(

    • I think the reasoning behind this post is “can you laught at a man, who lost his daughter?” And as we see, yes, we can.

      • We’ve all had tragedies in our lives. Even though I despise Trump, I would have compassion for the man if one of his kids committed suicide. That doesn’t mean I would start liking him, but I would have some sympathy for his pain. Using this tragedy as a “gotcha” card is pretty insulting and disrespectful to Snyder’s family.

    • Unless some critic said “Go kill yourself” to someone in the Snyder family, I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make.

  12. People who say it’s the worst clearly haven’t seen the Batman Unlimited movies.

  13. You know, Doug, I stopped watching your videos regularly some years ago in favor of Cinemassacre, but good God they could use a bit of actual scripted, analytical material. Like this.

    I’m all ears when you talk about the problems of adapting something from one medium to another.

  14. ShadowsTwilight

    Are there different versions of the Killing Joke or something? The version I read had the song and dance number in it. If anything, it was the mock trial scene that came right before it that I don’t remember reading

  15. It was only in cinemas for one night, damn I could of seen it but I saw Now You See Me 2

  16. It is interesting how an intro can put someone off of a movie. You mentioned The Producers earlier, I had some friends who were so put off by the opening credits with Bialystock messing around with the old lady, they refused to watch the rest of the movie, and what they did see, they riffed on it. One of them finally watched it a couple of years later and admitted it was better than he anticipated.

  17. Did you seriously just say that the Harry Potter films are FAITHFUL??? I….you…wha…..ju….I don’t even know what to even say to that. My mind is so blown that you actually just said that in a serious manner, I can’t come up with any other option than to just simply say it; no. No, Doug, the Harry Potter movies are NOT faithful. In fact, that little example you made up, “imagine if the first movie had some weird prologue about Ron’s backstory”…the movies DO do that kind of thing all the damn time! Probably the biggest one is that stupid pointless bullshit in the 6th one with Bellatrix lighting the Weasley’s house on fire and Harry running around the corn stalks. That ENTIRE scene was absolutely NOWHERE to be found in the books and its-

    No, sorry, I’m ranting, I don’t mean to, but that claim Doug made is just so perfect in showing how little he knows about Harry Potter, it sort of astounds me….

    The Harry Potter fans did NOT get “an obsessively faithful version of Harry Potter” Doug, and the fact that you think that we did is just….I have no words. Except the ones I just said. but that’s it. rant over. sorry.

    • I’m not even a Harry Potter fan, but I found it hilarious that Doug thinks the movie was faithful. I’ve forgotten more than half of what’s in the book, but even I know the movie changed a bunch of stuff.

    • RedMilleniumRanger

      It’s been a looong time since I’ve read the booksor watched the movies, weren’t the first 3 much more faithful than the rest of the series, save for a few slip-ups?

    • The Dom even did an entire Lost In Adaptation series on all the ways that the films were unfaithful to the book, on this very site!

  18. Besides the prologue, it was a faithful adaptation. I think that’s the minimum we all expected.
    But that’s the problem. It’s the minimum. With the record of espectacular DC animated movies, this felt underwhelming. But I still like it.

  19. Personally, it’s not worth a second look. Yeah people could say “skip the first 30 minutes”, but why would I want to watch the movie then? I hate that excuse for a bad movie when they are like “fast forward through the first part” or something like that. James Rolfe does that a lot and Doug you have done that as well.

    They should have just simply expanded on The Killing Joke part and maybe gotten the original creator of the comic to come in and help with the story.

    They also shouldn’t have went with Bruce Timm’s art direction since it really doesn’t mesh well with the art style.

    It’s a failure as a film and only a decent adaptation. Yes, if the first 30 minutes were never there, they would probably like it more, but even then you still have to deal with the clunky animation, off putting art style, and Batgirl still being a woman in the fridge situation….it had no winning solution unless they expanded on the story or instead of some forgettable stupid punks in the first 30 minutes, have it be the Joker and maybe have Batgirl stop a crime of his and that set Joker off to do the Killing Joke sequence or something like that.

    Plus, why couldn’t we have gotten this instead of a trailer and a stupid drunk reaction video that was trying way too hard to be funny?

    • The retcon at the start of Evil Dead 2 hurt that movie for me, I can still watch Evil Dead 2 having fast forwarded through the retcon but it still feels wrong.

      This is the same – Just knowing it’s there is a major issue.

  20. Hmmmm… I feel that the problem of the ‘prologue’ as separate story doesn’t fully mesh because of the framing.

    Using the Harry Potter example you used, it wouldn’t be a backstory segment for Ron Weasley, but a segment of Harry’s mother cheating on his dad with Snape, and that Harry’s parents only died because of a lovers spat.
    In theory, it could be canon, but it would paint a massively questionable picture for the rest of the film about the motives of several of the characters.

    Coming back to The Killing Joke, leaving the BatgirlXBatman subplot in the ‘prologue’ infers that they are in some sort of a physical, sexual, and potentially emotional relationship. It sets that up as a PROLOGUE, which could be fine, but then it turns around and keeps the Barbara shooting (and implied rape) in the same continuity. As a side effect of juxtaposing the two of these aspects of the film together, it implies Batman is going as far as he does in the story merely because his girlfriend got shot, and not because the Joker is that dangerous.

  21. If they had ditched the prologue and just stuck to the main subject, it would have done a lot better.

    Had they paced it better and given certain scenes more time (especially for the audience) thus allowing their particular gravatas to sink in; they wouldn’t have had to resort to dumping in a unnecessary prologue.

    That and I wasn’t a huge fan of the art style.
    I know they were trying to capture the feel of the comics but that’s the problem… As NC pointed it out “if you’ve read the comics than you don’t need to watch the film”.

    Had they gone with the style of the original animated series, I personally think it would have been accepted more by the fans and audience alike.

    BUt that’s just MY opinion.

  22. MountCDOSgamer

    The song number is from the comic, and the animated adaptation added something that couldn’t be done in a comic; actual music. I think you spent too much time focusing on the animation failing to add anything to the Killing Joke and completely neglected things like voice acting, music, and timing.
    And also, the way the ending is handled does kind of add fuel to the theory that Batman kills the Joker at the end of it. Batman is heard still laughing long after the Joker has stoped laugh. Another example of how you should have focused on aspects besides the animation in terms of what it added.

    But I agree that the prologue should have been about Batgirl capturing the Joker before Batman confronts him.
    For me, the two problems with Batgirl having sex with Batman is a) Batman should have rejected her as soon as she started kissing him, and b) It’s utterly pointless because the purpose of it to the plot was to make things awkward between the two of them, but things should have already been awkward between them because Batgirl had disobeyed a direct order.

  23. No it was AWESOME! Stop with the crazy talk Doug.

  24. handsomefatman

    The Killing Joke, whether animated or the original, is 1 part awesome and like 7 parts really, really problematic. It’s why the author of the original graphic novel doesn’t defend it anymore.

    The Killing Joke still has value, as the quintessential “hurt women to advance mens’ stories” example, an example of how not to write fiction. An example that, even in 2017, we sorely need.

  25. One of the Best ways to fix the Killing Joke was to make the 1st 3rd of the film a series of Batman Joker escapades in order to paint the picture for Batman and Jokers various conversations and to add weight to them.

    • TragicGuineaPig

      Or better yet, use it to highlight the professional, totally non-sexual relationship between the two crusaders, so that the tragedy centers less around Batman losing his girlfriend and more on Barbara losing her secret life. Remember: Barbara’s the real victim here; Batman is just the collateral.

  26. Devil's Advocate

    I really don’t like idea of any version of this story, giving the Joker redeeming qualities and sympathy.

    I generally have faith in humanity but I also hate the idea that even the worse people have good it them. the more people read stories that say EVERYONE has good in them, the more they might believe it about real life monsters.

  27. Can you talk about the MTV series Good Vibes and Daria?

    On a side note, I mention this all before, why don’t you review a classic horror like this one I’ve finally found after all these years after just seeing a few scenes of it and never knowing how it ended. It’s called Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama. You might like it. Maybe.

    Also what do think of these TV series shows called:
    John Doe
    Forever Knight
    The Misfits (British Show)
    Misfits of Science (Movie and series)
    and The Zeta Project
    (I think some of these shows are like Sonic the Hedgehog a.k.a. Sonic Sat a.m. They all have incomplete ending.)

    P.S. Is there anyway you can review the Japanese versions of Ironman, Wolverine, X-men and Blade? I’d also really like to hear what you think about the FX series Archer and Chozen.

    P.S.S. And I never found out if you were going talk more about the Disney Afternoon shows Gummi Bears, Chip N Dale’s Rescue Rangers, Talespin(even the hour uncut movie special I found about it) and Darkwing Duck. Also you never answer my question, If you hate the Goof Troop song: “Gotta Be Gettin’ Goofy” then does that mean you hate The Darkwing Duck Rap?

  28. I think you’re overstating how good the animation and acting is in this film Doug. I think both of those aspects are pretty damn weak.

  29. It’s interesting that it’s main strength(adapting it blow by blow) is also what people hold against it. Maybe it’s a culture thing because in Japan when a Japanese manga is adapted into a Japanese Anime it’s usually really closely adapted and no one has a problem with it.

  30. I think the scale of this one got too out of hand…
    I didn’t see anyone complain about The New Frontier (which is pretty much the same case – a good adaptation that hits and misses quite a lot of beats from the original) or Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (which isn’t exactly bad per se, but it didn’t need two movies for this).
    I don’t know… Maybe it was just impossible to please the fans and the prologue didn’t help in any way, but I think the way they released this one was the real stinker.

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