SDCC 2016: The Controversial Bat Sex Scene in “The Killing Joke”

At San Diego Comic-Con 2016, screenwriter Brain Azzarello and Director Sam Liu of “The Killing Joke” explained their decision to include a sex scene between Batgirl and Batman (CLICK HERE for the article from CBR that gives their explanation in greater detail).

Here’s what we are talking about:

Basically for Azzaarello and Liu, it came down to this quote:

“The thing about this is that it’s controversial, so we added more controversy,” explained Azzarello.

That quote blew me away…

Let’s see, in the original book by Alan Moore, Barbara Gordon is shot by the Joker, paralyzed, stripped, photographed (it is at least implied that she was raped), and her nude, helpless pictures were shown to a naked and caged Jim Gordon. Was that not controversial enough? That part of the book is still debated today, but apparently, this isn’t an “interesting” or “controversial” enough movie without having Barbara Gordon have a sex scene.  And, it seems that Batman can’t get mad enough to act against the Joker unless he’s had sex with someone.

Batman knows that someone he cares about as a partner in crime fighting, as a friend and colleague, had been shot, stripped, possibly raped, and he good friend and partner in crime fighting Jim Gordon has been kidnapped, stripped, and forced to see the pictures of his daughter in that state, and that’s not enough motivation? What does that say about our Caped Crusader?  Okay, maybe not…hopefully not…but…

Here are two points to consider:

  1. There should be no problem with a sex scene in a film meant for adults, as long as it is not simply thrown in for the sensationalism of the scene. There are plenty of times that these scenes are crucial to the plot, and a mature audience should be expected to watch the film without acting like a bunch of junior high school kids. But, this was already a classic story with a fully developed plot that was already “controversial” enough on its own. There was no need to add this scene in order to further the plot. Let’s be honest – this scene was added to get additional publicity, not to further the story. It had no place in this film other than to be sensational.
  2. This second point is more for comics nerds like me.  If there was to be a sex scene involving Barbara, this movie steps well out of canon to have her relationship be with Batman, who in the comics is more of a father figure. That makes this more than a bit creepy, don’t you think?  The obvious choice to remain in canon would have been Dick Grayson. Having her in a relationship with Batman really makes no sense in any other timeline for a Batman or Batgirl story.  Again, this brings us back to the only reason for this scene existing was to be sensational.

Of course, the creators are getting what they want out of this…even with this article. They are getting additional publicity for the film. But, this is a truly sad way to go about it.  In BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY, we now know that “The Killing Joke” book is in canon. Hopefully, this scene from the movie never will be.

Ed is a long-time comics collector, going back to the days when comics were only 12 cents. He reviews DC titles and a variety of Indie publishers here at TMStash.

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