WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT ACCEPTS MPAA “R” RATING FOR BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE

All-New Animated DC Universe Original Movie to Authentically Reflect Best-Selling & Eisner Award-Winning Graphic Novel;

First Non-PG/PG-13 Rated Film in 9-Year History of Franchise

BURBANK, CA (April 15, 2016) – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has accepted the MPAA’s “R” rating for its upcoming animated film, Batman: The Killing Joke, choosing to remain true to the landmark DC Comics graphic novel’s violent, controversial story, and making the film the first non-PG/PG-13 rated movie in the nine-year history of the DC Universe Original Movie franchise.

Batman: The Killing Joke, one of the best-selling graphic novels in history, tells the tale of The Joker’s origin story – from his humble beginnings as a struggling comic, to his fateful encounter with Batman that changes both of their lives forever. Actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise their Batman: The Animated Series roles as Batman and The Joker, respectively.

Since its inception in 2007, the DC Universe Original Movie franchise has brought classic and current DC Comics stories and characters to animated life through a series of primarily PG-13 rated films. Throughout the 26-film history of this popular franchise, Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment have crafted animated productions that appeal to the adult fan – from adaptations of fan favorite stories (Superman: Doomsday, Justice League: The New Frontier, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) to liberal adaptations of contemporary tales (Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, Batman: Bad Blood, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox) to original narratives (Batman: Gotham Knight, Wonder Woman, Justice League: Gods & Monsters).

Animation visionary Bruce Timm guided the DC Universe Original Movie franchise for its initial 16 films, then returned last summer with his own original story, Justice League: Gods & Monsters. Timm takes the reigns once again for Batman: The Killing Joke, reuniting a trio of actors (Conroy, Hamill & Tara Strong) from the game-changing Batman: The Animated Series cast to add even greater reverence to this heralded tale. Recognizing the fans’ dedication to the highly acclaimed graphic novel, Timm has worked meticulously to accurately maintain the intense adult content of The Killing Joke.

 “From the start of production, we encouraged producer Bruce Timm and our team at Warner Bros. Animation to remain faithful to the original story – regardless of the eventual MPAA rating,” said Sam Register, President, Warner Bros. Animation & Warner Digital Series. “The Killing Joke is revered by the fans, particularly for its blunt, often-shocking adult themes and situations. We felt it was our responsibility to present our core audience – the comics-loving community – with an animated film that authentically represented the tale they know all too well.”

At this time, there are no plans for an edited, PG-13 version of the film.

A two-time Eisner Award winner written by renowned comics author Alan Moore, Batman: The Killing Joke has maintained an unparalleled popularity throughout its 28 years of existence – as evidenced by its ranking as the best-selling graphic novel of 2015. Batman: The Killing Joke was greenlit in 2013 and announced in July 2015 at Comic Con International in San Diego.

Batman: The Killing Joke also features the voices of Tara Strong (Teen Titans; Batman: Arkham games), as Barbara Gordon and Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, RoboCop) as Commissioner Gordon. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will host the film’s World Premiere at Comic-Con International this summer, and see a subsequent release in 2016 on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD.

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  This isn't one of my favorite stories, but I'm curious anyway.  Still don't they have any cheerful stories to adapt?

  I caught a bit of the Avengers cartoon this morning, they are going into the Thunderbolts storyline and it occurred to me that while it's nice to see the stories animated they also loose something.  When they animate a story from the comics -especially a famous one- there is a great loss of suspense.  I know what happens in the killing joke, just as I knew what happened in the Thunderbolt storyline.

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

  This isn't one of my favorite stories, but I'm curious anyway.  Still don't they have any cheerful stories to adapt?

It's Batman.  The acclaimed stories tend to not be cheerful.

Frankly, I'm glad that my favorite stories are being translated into richer and more powerful media. I have no complaints at all!

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

  I caught a bit of the Avengers cartoon this morning, they are going into the Thunderbolts storyline and it occurred to me that while it's nice to see the stories animated they also loose something.  When they animate a story from the comics -especially a famous one- there is a great loss of suspense.  I know what happens in the killing joke, just as I knew what happened in the Thunderbolt storyline.

Of course -- you've already read the story!

I always thought that The Killing Joke was a bit over-rated. It was a very good if grim book, certainly controversial. It was designed to tap in on the Joker's popularity as it made him a bit more sympathetic with more of his background revealed and a line where it seems that he knows how wrong his life is but he can't stop now.

It also was supposed to eliminate Batgirl from the comics as she sort of became a symbol of the 60s campiness that DC wanted to forget. The only reason that they didn't outright kill her there was to "protect" the Joker, IMHO.

This was from the start of DC's fascination with British writers who were allowed to twist their characters into psychotic, psychopathic and psychoanalytical knots.

  How was the Joker not killing Barbara protecting him?

Philip Portelli said:

I always thought that The Killing Joke was a bit over-rated. It was a very good if grim book, certainly controversial. It was designed to tap in on the Joker's popularity as it made him a bit more sympathetic with more of his background revealed and a line where it seems that he knows how wrong his life is but he can't stop now.

It also was supposed to eliminate Batgirl from the comics as she sort of became a symbol of the 60s campiness that DC wanted to forget. The only reason that they didn't outright kill her there was to "protect" the Joker, IMHO.

This was from the start of DC's fascination with British writers who were allowed to twist their characters into psychotic, psychopathic and psychoanalytical knots.

Had the Joker killed Barbara Gordon point blank, would he have been allowed to survive The Killing Joke? This wasn't some nameless victim. This was BATGIRL! Villains who kill heroes generally get killed off themselves. (See Kingdom Come for that Joker scenario!)

If his daughter was murdered, would Commissioner Gordon demand the Joker be taken alive? Would any GCPD officer NOT want to put down the Joker?

And Batman? Nightwing? Superman even? You couldn't do another Joker story without it coming up and another debate on if the Joker should live.

Babs surviving and evolving into Oracle, to many a stronger character, actually diverts attention from the Joker's assault, though it would and should never go away.

Philip Portelli said:

If his daughter was murdered, would Commissioner Gordon demand the Joker be taken alive? Would any GCPD officer NOT want to put down the Joker?

I think Barbara Gordon was a much more important character as Oracle than as Batgirl. Fixing her injury, IMO, was a bad idea.

I think The Killing Joke is a very good story, except for the end that has Batman and Joker laughing together. The version of the Joker's origin in this story is, to me, his "real" origin because the events involving the Joker's wife help to explain how his mind was so very warped.

At the end of No Man's Land when he kidnapped a couple of dozen babies and, when she tries to save them, kills Gordon's wife Sarah Essen was over the top enough for me. That would have been enough to prompt a lot of people, cops especially, to put him down. Gordon's shooting him in the knee was a waste because it never affected the Joker past the end of the story.

Richard Willis said:

At the end of No Man's Land when he kidnapped a couple of dozen babies and, when she tries to save them, kills Gordon's wife Sarah Essen was over the top enough for me. That would have been enough to prompt a lot of people, cops especially, to put him down. Gordon's shooting him in the knee was a waste because it never affected the Joker past the end of the story.

It makes sense to me, painful as it was, that Gordon didn't kill The Joker at the end of "No Man's Land." He had just spent an entire year proving we are a nation laws, not men, and couldn't piss that away.

But Earth ClarkKent_DC, after Gordon kneecapped The Joker, Harvey Bullock took the gun from him and shot The Joker full of holes. 

All things being equal, Barbara Gordon's death (hypothetically) shouldn't count any more than the deaths of all the Joker's other innumerable victims.

Back on topic, I'm glad to see they're going with an "R" rating rather than compromising the integrity of the original story.

I didn't necessarily want Gordon to shoot the Joker, but having the Joker say that he'd been crippled by the knee-capping and then have nothing come of it was worse than not shooting him at all. I don't have the story anymore, but I understand that the Joker dressed some police officers like him and caused them to be shot also. Gotham's police must be so perfect that no one "felt threatened" enough to blow him away.

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