Collider posted this article yesterday confirming that the once and future last of the Jedi knights, Mark Hamill will be reprising his role as the clown prince of crime in a straight to DVD animated feature based on Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s seminal graphic novel The Killing Joke.
As fans the world over breathe a collective sigh of relief and lower their machetes the casual observer could be forgiven for asking “what’s the big deal?”.
Allow me to explain why this casting coup is such a source of relief and excitement for the fans (especially since Kevin Conroy surely can’t be far behind).
While best known to most as Luke Skywalker Hamill had been quietly working away at a vocal interpretation of comicdom’s most popular villain that can only be described as iconic and indeed definitive .
Don’t believe me?
Read a speech bubble in any Batman comic book.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
That voice you heard? It’s Mark Hamill.
But in 2011 it looked as though the veteran actor had cackled his last in the video game Batman: Arkham City, seeing that incarnation of the character through to the (apparent) bitter end.
Hamill confided that that performance would be his swansong and in 2014 as news emerged that the original cast were hopping on the back of the newly invigorated Star Wars leviathan, fans assumed that he had permanently given up the mic for the lightsaber.
Moreover, The Killing Joke is quite possibly the definitive Batman and Joker story. Some of my fellow nerds might challenge me with their one-size-fits-all-Trump-card, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns but TKJ is the preferred Classic in my mind.
In a mere 48 pages it manages to beautifully encapsulate and enrich the relationship between Batman and his nemesis. It begins with The Dark Knight striding into Joker’s cell to make an impassioned plea to his enemy for a detente before they end up killing each other, and ends with the mortal enemies sharing a laugh.
It presents us with a fearsome and monolithic Batman who also shows tenderness, heroism and a genuine desire to rehabilitate his twisted nemesis even when faced with the horror of his crimes. Likewise, Moore’s prose somehow manages to wring some humanity out of a warped and sadistic Joker, providing us with a hint at his possible origin and an insight into his chaotic psyche.
It pays homage to every previous iteration of the decades long enmity while also being a great story on its own merit.
Therefore it stands to reason that the most iconic Batman and Joker story should be brought to life by the voices that have become so definitive in the eyes (or rather ears) of fans who have enjoyed their skirmishes in the 23 years since the advent of Batman The Animated Series.
At the time of writing Kevin Conroy had not yet been cast as The Dark Knight himself but we await with baited breath.