I’m definitely a feminist. I was so thrilled when Batgirl got her new outfit that made her less sexual, I love that Wonder Woman is getting her own movie and can’t believe that it took so long for us to get here. That doesn’t mean that I hate The Killing Joke graphic novel. It just means that I believe that women are equal to men and should be treated as such. Now, let’s get into my movie review.
Firstly, I know that there has been some controversy surrounding the relationship between Batgirl and Batman. SPOILER ALERT! Yes, they had sex. I didn’t think that it made her an object. I thought that it explores a complicated relationship and added new reasoning to Batman’s interest in protecting her. It also showcases her as the one making the choice. She didn’t get seduced by Batman or submit to him. It was her decision and we much more explore her reaction to her decision than Batman’s. It also leads to her going to the edge of the darkness in a way that we can appreciate. She was manipulated by Paris and then he went after somebody that she deeply cares for. Then, that leads to her almost snapping. It is more reminiscent of Batman getting close to snapping after The Joker killed Jason Todd. It treats her journey towards a dark place with the same level of respect as Batman’s. The fact that she’s an apprentice and had a sexual relationship, albeit briefly, doesn’t detract from her story. It merely adds a layer in my eyes.
Outside of the relationship between Batman and Batgirl, we do explore Batgirl’s character a lot more. I appreciated that and I like Babs more than ever. Like any young hero, she goes through struggles. In many ways, she anchors and helps guide both Batman and her father. Her empathy and strength cannot be denied. She was victimized but her strength is far greater than any one horrific experience.
On another note, damn this the movie plays just the right amount of homage to the graphic novel! The musical number in the carnival is so great. It was hard to imagine a musical number being brought to life in a way that keeps the darkness but feels like Broadway. You don’t have to imagine it though. They did it. Hamill is better at singing in The Joker’s voice than I am in my own voice. The scoring and story boards for the segment was perfect.
Batman and The Joker were masterfully played. What do you expect though from the team that includes Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and Bruce Timm? They’ve given us nothing but awesomeness and to expect anything less this time around was to be unrealistically pessimistic. They bring such gravity and understanding to these characters. You can tell when movie-makers and actors truly care about the source material as much as these men do. (Tara Strong who voiced Babs in this film but has killed it as Harley Quinn in multiple other properties killed it once again.)
The visuals were great. The story line was solid. The actors killed it. This was a great animated property. I went with a friend who didn’t know the property and all that he could think of was how awesome this story would be in a live-action version. Whenever an animated film leaves you wanting more, I think that’s an awesome testament to how well it was done.