Speaking at a New York Comic Con panel, James Tucker, producer for Batman: Bad Blood, has hinted at the possibility that The Killing Joke's adaptation could be given an R rating.
When pressed to talk about the shift from adapting comics to original features, Tucker said that they were basically told that that's what they were going to do, adding that out of the three yearly films, one will be an adaptation while The Killing Joke will be next. He noted that they were told they can take the R-rated route with The Killing Joke but he's not saying that that's how it's going to be.
"We'll see," he said.
However, reports following the panel have been saying that he announced that The Killing Joke will be given an R-rating. Tucker took to Twitter to clarify what he had said, writing that he's not directing the adaptation and that a rating won't be finalized for a long time.
So, to be clear, The Killing Joke has not been rated R, but the possibility exists that the adaptation can take that direction. If it does go that way, however, it will be perfectly understandable.
Illustrated by Brian Bolland and written by Alan Moore, The Killing Joke is one of the most acclaimed of the Joker stories. While it's iconic, it is probably also one of the most controversial, mainly because of the brutal violence Barbara Gordon was subjected to.
In it, the Joker shoots Gordon, leaves her for dead but not before taking photos of her in an effort to break Jim Gordon. Given his reaction to the photos, it is a common interpretation that his daughter was raped as well. A Batgirl variant cover was released earlier in the year depicting imagery that took inspiration from The Killing Joke. The cover was heavily criticized for going against efforts to create strong female characters and was later pulled, which was also done at the request of Rafael Albuquerque, its artist.
It's nothing new for a Batman movie to take on darker themes but even the Dark Knight was given just a PG-13 rating to ensure it reached the widest audience possible. Then again, The Killing Joke is going to be a direct-to-video release.
Batman: The Killing Joke is expected to come out sometime in 2016.