On Saturday July 23rd at SDCC, DC and Warner Home Video held a press event for Batman: The Killing Joke which is due for release August 2nd, 2016. Of the cast and crew, Ray Wise, Brian Azzarello, Bruce Timm, Tara Strong, Kevin Conroy and Sam Liu were present for the event. I spoke to three members of the crew who gave their thoughts in bringing the graphic novel to animated life and how they approached portraying their respective characters.
Brian Azzarello (the film’s screenwriter), when asked how he approached the line of making the movie both similar and different to the graphic novel, said “The similarities had to be within the Killing Joke itself. When tearing the original story apart, we realized that the film would amount to only about a half hour, and they [Warner Bros.] needed it to be longer. It was my job to write scenes in [the movie] that you wouldn’t realize were in the original book.”
When asked about the controversial scene between Batman and Batgirl, Azzarello denied its existence (the scene’s existence had leaked online hours before the premiere).
Ray Wise (voice of Jim Gordon), when asked about his familiarity with The Killing Joke story, said “Well I was familiar with it. I read the [story] and loved it. But it wasn’t enough for a feature length movie, so they added quite a bit more to it. You see a lot more of my daughter Batgirl and you see Commissioner Gordon being a good father. And of course the Joker submits him to a very torturous process, and I had to come up with a lot of grunts and groans and screams. It was emotionally and physically demanding and draining, almost as if I was doing it live on camera.” When asked if he was in Gordon’s shoes if he would tell Batman to take Joker in by the book, Wise responded “If he did to my daughter what he did to [Gordon’s], I’d be a hell of a lot more vindictive, yes. But Commissioner Gordon does things by the book. He’s a man of morals and integrity and he believes in doing everything the right way, and tries to keep Batman on the straight and narrow. He realizes that Batman has a certain amount of darkness in his soul and he can go either way at any time.”
I asked Tara Strong about her approach in voicing a definitively older, more mature Barbara Gordon. She compared it to when she first began voicing the character after moving from Toronto to Los Angeles and that “it’s one of the roles I do that’s my own voice. So vocally it’s not challenging for me. The story itself is obviously very dark and emotionally charged. For me personally I visualize it all in my head. There were moments [in recording] when I was crying and feeling it all in my head and [identifying] with Barbara that hopefully translates when people see it. I hadn’t read the comic prior to working on it, so all the things that happen to Barbara were shocking to me when I first saw it. So [her performance] was very organic, and I feel very lucky to suit up again for Killing Joke.”
Batman: The Killing Joke is now available on Digital HD, DVD and Blu-Ray. You can order your copy on Amazon here.