The Killing Joke Director Sam Liu Details Exactly Why It's Rated R

Batman: The Killing Joke has been talked about considerably since its debut at San Diego Comic-Con last weekend, and even for the months leading up to that. A big part of that story? The R-Rating. It's DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation's first R-Rated project. When director Sam Liu got the project, though, it was a moment of circumstance, and he wasn't actually sure it would be rated R.

"At Warner Bros [Animation] we’re like studio directors, we usually have rotating directing crews. I remember when it was on the table the first time, and for whatever reasons it was shelved. When it came up this time, I realized I’m actually directing this one, and I wondered if it was actually going to go this time? I guess it was the right time and the right climate to release an R-rated animated movie," Liu told Comicbook.com at San Diego Comic-Con. That rating, though, came well into the creative process. "I think we weren’t even thinking about [the rating] at the beginning. Bruce [Timm] and I, when we had built it up in animatic form, we thought it might get a PG-13, because it’s not extra-gratuitous. The psychological stuff is, I think – the R comes from a certain amount of responsibility. It is really dark. R is for Responsibility, kids!"

Indeed, that's the thing that brought the R-Rating into conversation, the "nature of the content" from the comicbook story The Killing Joke is adapted from.

killing-joke6
(Photo: WB Animation)

"Any time you have psychological torture, that starts going into this questionable area," Liu explained. "We’ve had many films where people get shot and there’s blood, things that make me think we’re going to get an R-rating! For whatever reason violence is – there’s a certain desensitization that’s happened. That’s not as shocking anymore. But for some reason, sex and psychological torture is more touchy ground."

Batman: The Killing Joke is now available on Digital HD, and hits Blu-Ray and DVD combo Tuesday, August 2, 2016.