Warner Brothers announced on Thursday that the direct-to-video animated film Batman: The Killing Joke, based on the Alan Moore comic, will receive an R rating.
The Killing Joke will be the first of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies to have an R rating from the MPAA. It is technically the second Batman film to have the rating as the extended home releases of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is rated R, but the theatrical version was PG-13.
Lately, it has been the trend for mainstream comic movies to have a PG-13 rating as to capitalize on the teenage crowd. However the X-Men film Deadpool became the top grossing R-rated movie of all time earlier this year, proving that their is an audience for adult comic book movies.
Batman: The Killing Joke is based on the 1988 comic of the same name which gives an origin story for Batman’s greatest foe, The Joker. Many consider the comic to be one of the best Joker stories but it is divisive among fans. The comic has very adult themes and has been criticized for being misogynistic, especially of its treatment of Barbra Gordon/Batgirl.
Warner Brothers animation has been dedicated to making sure this adaptation is faithful to the original comic. As such they have made no plans to make a PG-13 cut of the film instead choosing to keep true to the dark tone.
“From the start of production, we encouraged producer Bruce Timm and our team at Warner Bros. Animation to remain faithful to the original story — regardless of the eventual MPAA rating,” said Sam Register, president of Warner Bros. Animation & Warner Digital Series, in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. “The Killing Joke is revered by the fans, particularly for its blunt, often-shocking adult themes and situations. We felt it was our responsibility to present our core audience — the comics-loving community — with an animated film that authentically represented the tale they know all too well.”
Batman: The Killing Joke stars Kevin Conroy as the voice of Batman/Bruce Wayne, Mark Hamill as the Joker, Tara Strong as Batgirl/Barbara Gordon, and Ray Wise as Commissioner James Gordon. The film will make its premiere at Comic-Con International in San Diego this summer and will be released on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD later this year.