MOVIES

The Killing Joke’s Animated Sex Scene Is Batman’s Most Controversial Moment

As “Batman: The Killing Joke” has receded further into the past, DC fans have continued discussing it and its controversial love story. In a Reddit thread by u/Rawk505, numerous viewers expressed their negative feelings on Batman and Barbara’s situation. “It just didn’t work in the context of the movie and its execution, and if anything took away from the tragedy that comes later in the story,” commented a now-deleted user, questioning, like many others, if the plotline was added to expand the movie’s runtime. Redditor u/8nTTDan brought up the age difference between the two, with u/Fun-University4019 doing the same while mentioning their power imbalance.

The original poster, u/Rawk505, took their analysis of the subplot a step further. In a comment, they explain through the book “The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines” by Mike Madrid that “The Killing Joke” does a disservice to Batgirl through its depiction of her. “‘She is not his girlfriend or faithful handmaiden.’ Because of the fact she does not pursue a romantic interest in Batman, ‘Batgirl is a female Batman can actually regard as a brilliant peer and a partner in the war on crime, the same way he would a male,'” they wrote, quoting passages from the book. In taking away what makes her special, relegating her to a mere love interest and later plot device for Batman’s development, they feel “The Killing Joke” misogynistically butchers the Batgirl character.

“Batman: The Killing Joke” is a strong read that has endured as a defining Batman story. It’s just too bad its animated equivalent has proven so divisive thanks to a single sex scene and the subplot around it.

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