Return the Joke Again
We’ve already been over this, at least in part anyway. And it feels a bit strange to me that we are here again. But it had to be done with good reasons to boot. Or something…
I know right… You have no idea what the hell I’m talking about. That seems to happen a lot around here. To be honest, half the time I don’t know what I’m talking about either.
So where is it we begin this?
We could start a while back where I talked about Batman’s The Killing Joke already (as well as The Dark Knight Returns). But I’ve already done that. Now it would seem like overkill. But something has changed. See, there’s this movie now. Yep, they went and done it. They made The Killing Joke into an animated film.
The crazy thing is, in my view they made about half of it as true as can be to the original comic. Everything was in there, I mean everything. My overall view of the whole thing was, Satisfied. There weren’t too many surprises and it followed the comic so closely that it didn’t give any room for great upsets. And with that, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their roles as the voices of Batman and the Joker made for a stellar reunion that made the whole thing perfect. I highly recommend seeing it.
We could end it there and no one would be the wiser. But there is more and the reason why this requires an entirely separate talk outside of the one we have already experienced. Granted, seeing it come to life in a movie theater (one night only special event before the digital release) but that isn’t really enough to be huge news. Even the Joker’s big musical number isn’t quite enough to set the world on edge (it’s amazing the number of people who thought it off kilter. Personally I loved it).
See the thing here is, they added some new material to the story. By that I mean they added a story at the beginning of the main event. Cutting to the chase, it was a Batman and Batgirl story and it has had the world up in arms and creating new hashtags for #batsex. In the interest of decency, they alluded without actually showing anything graphic. This isn’t what gave the movie its R rating. For that we look at the contents of the original storyline.
In the interest of me talking and all that, there are some spoilers ahead. It isn’t that I care but if spoilers bug you, then watch the movie and skip the rest of my blather. You have been warned.
So yeah, this opening storyline deals with Batman’s and Batgirl’s relationship. And to save everyone a little time, there is a ton of political dogma that people are bringing to the table to complain about this. I don’t really care. This isn’t the place for it. We accept what we see as part of the story as it is and look at how it plays into the story itself and possibly the world of related stories. The rest of it is irrelevant.
Anyway, within the story there is a douchey nephew of a crime lord that is making moves on Batgirl. During the whole thing Batman is trying to get her to back off but being the stubborn person that she is she keeps pushing. Yada yada, she goes over the edge and beats the hell out of the guy after and realizes she has come to the edge and knows she doesn’t ever want to lose control like that again. (during all this she has had rage sex with Batman, which is one of the things everyone is throwing a fit about. But if this is all we focus on we lose the deeper meaning and importance of the whole thing).
It wasn’t until a little bit after all this that I made a realization of the whole thing. There is a point where Batman has removed the cowl. He is in the Batcave and looking at the computer screen. A bunch of images are laid across the screen and at a glance they appear simply as images for the fans to see tie ins with other stories in the greater storylines. But one image stood out to me.
Roughly around the time this story original ran, was time frame that A Death in the Family original ran as well. This was the story where the Joker killed Jason Todd the second Robin. There is an image of Robin dead with blood around him on this screen. For me this was probably one of the most important images to tie everything together.
If we only see the first half of this movie as yet another storyline then it seems a bit odd. But in the greater storyline it makes so much more sense. Batman had already lost one friend to a maniac. A friend that pushed the line without any thought to the consequences of his actions. Batgirl in her need to prove herself, and face the ones who were pushing her, was approaching that same line. His first instinct was to do what he could to dissuade her.
Granted the whole angry sex thing is a bit over the top but people are people. They do some of the strangest things, especially when emotions are involved. This more than anything else is a huge part of what is important about this story. This moment shows that they are human. It is probably the biggest counterpoint to the inhuman nature of the Joker.
Aside from that, this whole thing is a tie between the greater storylines as a whole. Batman is changed when he loses Robin. He blames himself and the idea of another death of someone close to him is a bit more than he wants to have on his conscience.
It all comes down to long running storylines and characters take a bit of life and strangeness from all the different mythos that fuel them. There may be a version of these events in the multiverse where much of what led up to the events played out differently. But we are left with the one we are presented with. And I am still of a mind that this was a great interpretation of the story. With the added thoughts that it is part of a larger whole, we have depth and nuance to explore. This is more than just the parts we observe in one sitting.
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