Do not read this article if you want to be spoiled about a huge, and quite shocking, twist in the animated adaptation of The Killing Joke.
The Killing Joke is the highly anticipated DC Animated Universe movie based on Alan Moore’s 1988 graphic novel. And it seems that, unlike the movie of his graphic novel Watchmen, it won’t be a faithful retelling.
Batman and Batgirl were once lovers. Not only that, Batgirl is pining over Batman. He seems to be ignoring her after they had sex.
The evidence comes via an unauthorized clip, found by Comics Alliance, which will likely be removed quickly. I've transcribed it for when it's issued the inevitable take-down:Batgirl, sitting on a rooftop, talking to a pigeon. So do you think it’s worth a shot? [Pigeon flies away.] I’m doing it anyway. Batgirl pulls out her communicator. Batgirl's name appears on the Batmobile’s secured channel. Batman takes the call while driving. Batgirl: Nothing on cable tonight, so I thought I’d get out and get some exercise. Tell me, how’s [unknown word], these days? Batman: He’s on the move. We got a tip that he might be hiding out in the docks. That’s where I am right now. Batgirl: That wouldn’t be an invitation would it? Batman: No. Batgirl: I’m just kidding. But I’m not that far away. Batman: No. Batgirl: What about after you get in? What then? Are we back in business? Come on. Batman: We’ll take later. Batgirl: It’s just sex, for God’s sakes. It doesn’t have to mean anything. It’s not like we have to care. I don’t care. You don’t care. We just go back to like it was. That’s all. Please. Batman: Later. [Batman disconnects the call.]
More evidence includes the gif AcroNite7 posted to Twitter of Batman and Batgirl kissing.
The Killing Joke starts with the Batman confronting Joker in Arkham Asylum and telling him, “I’ve been thinking lately about you and me. About what’s going to happen to us, in the end. We’re going to kill each other, aren’t we?” It was a chilling moment, because that's merely the beginning. Batman has murder on his mind, and the Joker dials up the crazy.
Meanwhile, Barbara Gordon’s role in The Killing Joke is brief yet pivotal: The Joker comes to her door and shoots her. Later, when recounting the event, she asks Batman to find her father, who has been taken by the Joker. (I’m deliberately minimizing events, for those who haven’t read the comic.) Their on-page relationship begins and ends there.
Giving Batgirl and Batman a sexual history in The Killing Joke is a terrible decision. I could be okay with Barbara and Batman as ex-lovers, but I would never have shoehorned it into a story that is mired in moral quandary and has no need for a romance. That means when Batman goes after the Joker, he does it to punish the Joker for his assault of Barbara. That's the anthithesis of the story. The Killing Joke is about pain and retribution and one bad day. It's not about a love affair.
Barbara calling up Batman and asking him to "please" resume their relationship? That means Barbara is made oh-so-slightly pathetic even before she was refrigerated. (I urge you to read the Comics Alliance article, which gives a very thoughtful breakdown of the problem.)
As a sidenote, why would any woman want a relationship with Batman? Seriously, he’s married to justice. Or to Robin.
Here’s the unauthorized clip. Catch it while you can.
The Killing Joke will drop both digitally and in cinemas on July 25.