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Honest Trailers Provides The Killing Joke Animated Movie With a Well-Deserved Takedown

Screen Junkies’ Honest Trailers series has just pointed their comedic spotlight on the latest embarrassing target: the recent animated adaptation of The Killing Joke. The full-length movie isn’t exactly a faithful adaptation of the source material, since the original comic wouldn’t have been long enough to fill a feature-length movie. So, The Killing Joke movie added on an additional 40 minutes of backstory for Batgirl, but none of these additions have been popular with fans (including us).

What’s interesting about this Honest Trailer is that it’s not very funny; instead, it’s a surprisingly serious critique of the film’s failings. The lack of one-liners and jokes isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it sounds like The Killing Joke animated adaptation is so dismal that it would be hard to make light of the narrative choices made therein.

The Honest Trailer comes from the angle of already having enjoyed the original Killing Joke comic and finding it to be a good portrayal of the Joker (opinions vary on that point, especially around these parts). Still, even the writer for this Honest Trailer concedes that the animated adaptation just doesn’t cut the mustard. So, basically, even a self-proclaimed fan of the original Killing Joke still didn’t like this adaptation and found it to be disappointing and gross. That says a lot on its own, I think.

The original story of The Killing Joke isn’t my cup of tea personally; it works better as an out-of-canon exploration of a different version of the characters, but now that it’s (dubiously) part of comic book canon, it’s harder to defend … at least for me. It definitely wouldn’t be my first choice for a potential animated adaptation, and the changes made to the source material in this new version are so completely baffling that it’s hard for even the Screen Junkies to make jokes about it, beyond just expressing their own frustration that this even happened at all.

Maybe there is a way to “fix” The Killing Joke‘s story problems and make it feel more like something that fits within the Bat-canon and allows each of the characters to have agency in ways that are interesting for them. Many words have been written about whether or not that’s possible; I’m not sure that it is. There’s one thing that we can all agree on, though, and it’s that this particular Killing Joke adaptation definitely didn’t do the job required. It appears to have satisfied absolutely no one.

Still, this trailer makes for an interesting watch, even if only because it unwittingly provides an example of how even a Killing Joke fan might take issue with the decisions made by the adaptation. Above all, it’s just bad storytelling, and it doesn’t add anything interesting or important to the characters’ histories … it only disappoints. It’s hard to feel amused by something this frustrating. So let’s just share in the mutual frustration together, shall we?

(via /Film, image via YouTube screencap)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).