A few months ago, fans expressed their excitement for a movie that was intended to breathe life into one of comic history’s most acclaimed (and controversial) books. Reading into the content itself, one could expect that yes, this animated movie will receive an R rating if done correctly. Unfortunately, while the movie performed well in showing Batman and Joker’s differing philosophies, it ultimately fails one character the most – Barbara Gordon, otherwise known as the female vigilante Batgirl.
Now, the original material didn’t do Barbara Gordon much justice already. However, before the film’s release, audiences were promised that they will flesh out Batgirl’s story even more. Fans of the character were convinced that that they will be given something to root for before Batgirl is tragically forced to leave the crime-fighting scene behind . This didn’t happen. Instead of giving us a character filled with so much likeable charisma, we’re offered something else entirely.
In the first half of the movie, we see Barbara Gordon as a woman who makes all the wrong decisions, allows people to manipulate her, needs occasional babysitting by the person she fell in love with and lets her emotions get the best of her. What’s to like about a heroine like that? Even more disappointing is that somehow, Batgirl falls completely out of character and out-of the blue, gains a romantic inclination towards Batman. It’s okay for characters to fall in love but it’s a completely different thing to ruin a good story while in the process of experimenting with character relationships. The people behind this probably thought we were looking for reasons for the character to actually deserve being assaulted by the Joker.
Gone was the wise Barbara Gordon with photographic memory, excellent fighting skills and a prodigious knack for hacking. Instead, we get a stubborn damsel-in-distress through and through.
After the events of The Killing Joke, Barbara Gordon assumes a new identity – “Oracle”.
Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy and Tara Strong did fabulously in terms of voice acting performances but there’s an obvious disconnection to the characters that never existed before. Batman and Joker’s half of the movie was still, in some ways, good. Perhaps, this is one of those small occasions where shying away from the source material is a good thing. Maybe a better way of retelling Barbara Gordon’s story would have saved this animated film from becoming a huge disappointment.
How about you? What was your reaction when you watched “The Killing Joke”? Let us know in the comments section below!