One of the biggest comic book stories in history is finally being adapted into a Rated R animated film and the hype couldn’t be any bigger. What makes this adaptation even more amazing, is that the fact that Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are reuniting to voice the caped crusader, Batman and the clown prince of crime, the Joker. Being a huge fan of the DC animation team, I had extremely high hopes for this and I believe they were going to do this Justice. I was wrong. The problem is, that the original comic is pretty thin to stretch out for an hour and a half film, so they added a complete disaster of a subplot that ruins the mythos of the batman family. *MILD SPOILERS AHEAD*
The first thirty minutes of this film is exploring a young Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, she is seen failing to stop a robbery, and unknown to Batgirl, Paris Franz, the criminal she couldn’t stop, starts to grow a weirdly obsession with her. He would send her messages and one of them ended up leading her to Franz’s dead uncle. Batman grows concern for her, thinking that she isn’t taking it seriously and pulls her off the case. This frustrates Barbara, leading her to insult him physically and verbally, which leads her to eventually subduing Bruce and they end up sharing a kiss which leads to sexual intercourse between the two crime fighters. Later, Barbara tries to apologize to Bruce but he gets trapped and attacked by Franz and his gang. This leads batgirl to go and rescue Batman, and upon arrival, she captures Franz and starts viciously attacking him. This is a wake up call for Barbara, and realizes that Batman was right, she retires from crime fighting. What makes this prologue cringe-worthy is the moment that they have sex. This ruins the mythos of the bat family, he’s supposed to be a father figure to Barbara, not someone she has sex with. The prologue was going just fine and this mess happened, it was just a cheap plot device that wasn’t needed. They didn’t need a physical relationship for batman to care about what happens to Barbara from the hands of the joker. They should have had a better writing team for this moment in the film. After the prologue, things start to get better for the film at least, bringing the comic book we all love, to life.
We see the epic comic book moment of Joker wearing the tourist shirt and he shoots Barbara and making her permanently paralyzed in front of commissioner Gordon. We see flashback scenes of Joker, an engineer turned comedian and he reaches out to mob to help his pregnant wife. Figuring out that his wife died moments before he was supposed to help these criminals, this causes him grief. During the break in, he is confronted by the batman and being nervous, he falls into a batch of chemicals, leading him to become the Joker, a man who lost everything and was driven to insanity. Moments like this, make you feel bad for the Joker, he was simply just a guy trying to help his family and he lost everything. With the return of Mark Hamill as the Joker, you can feel this transformation. But that is thrown away when he makes commissioner Gordon see pictures of his daughter after getting shot. You can feel that vileness from the Joker, making you hate who he is again. Mark Hamill does an fantastic job especially when he shares the animated screen with Kevin Conroy’s batman. My favorite scene is when Batman and Joker are done fighting and batman offers him help, he declines and the Joker shares a joke. They end up both laughing, and you can see they are truly two sides of the same coin.
Barbara is handled poorly, with a lot of her scenes being about her slight obsession with Batman, and there’s an incredibly out of place sex scene between her and Batman on a rooftop that just doesn’t work because of what we’ve seen so far. Nothing to do with age, it just doesn’t work the way it was intended in my opinion due to the character we see on screen and the situation going on at the time. It feels like two films in one, this may not have been the best work from the WB animation studios but Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill save this film from being a disaster, a SuperSam Rating of 7/10.