After 28 years, Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke graphic novel is finally getting the R-rated movie adaptation it deserves, and EW has the exclusive announcement of when fans can get their hands on the Blu-ray and digital HD editions of the animated film.
Warner Bros. tells EW the deluxe edition and combo pack Blu-ray of Batman: The Killing Joke will be released on Aug. 2, though digital retailers will begin selling the digital HD version of the film on July 26. In addition to two 22-minute episodes from The New Batman Adventures and Batman: The Animated Series, the deluxe edition and combo pack versions will include two featurettes: Madness Set to Music, a documentary which chronicles the creation of the film’s storyboards and original score, and Many Shades of the Joker: The Tale of the Killing Joke, a making-of short that explores the distinct style of the graphic novel. Fans who purchase the combo pack Blu-ray edition will also receive a limited edition figurine of the Joker.
Based on Moore’s 1988 graphic novel of the same name, Batman: The Killing Joke traces the rise of the Joker from his early days as a struggling stand-up comic and eventual evolution into the Clown Prince of Crime. Batman is tasked with saving a Gotham City icon after the Joker kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and subsequently tortures him at a dilapidated amusement park. The Killing Joke also introduces Barbara Gordon, the Commissioner’s daughter, as Batgirl.
Actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise their roles of Batman and the Joker, respectively, after previously lending their voices to the characters across several titles in the animated Batman universe, including video games (Batman: Arkham Knight) and the Justice League animated TV series. Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, RoboCop) voices Commissioner Gordon, and Tara Strong (Teen Titans) plays Barbara Gordon. Justice League vs. Teen Titans helmer Sam Liu directs from a script written by Eisner Award-winner comic book writer Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets, Wonder Woman).
“Batman: The Killing Joke presents, for the first time, one of the most compelling stories in the annals of Batman’s adventures: the evolution of the Joker from normalcy to criminal insanity, in all its graphic presentation as an R-rated animated film,” Mary Ellen Thomas, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Vice President, Family & Animation Marketing, said of the project in a statement. “Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is proud to release Batman: The Killing Joke as an authentic representation of its revered story for both longtime fans and new fans alike.”
Despite its popularity, Moore’s original comic book has received criticism for its treatment of Barbara Gordon. She is left paralyzed by the Joker after a series of sadistic acts done unto her, and critics have gone as far as to label the work misogynist. Moore himself commented on the treatment of Barbara Gordon in an interview with Wizard Magazine (via HitFix) in 2006: “I asked DC if they had any problem with me crippling Barbara Gordon — who was Batgirl at the time — and if I remember, I spoke to Len Wein, who was our editor on the project… [He] said, ‘Yeah, okay, cripple the b—-.'” he said. “It was probably one of the areas where they should’ve reined me in, but they didn’t.”
Check out an exclusive image of the Joker above, and watch the full trailer for Batman: The Killing Joke in the video below.