One of the most controversial stories in DC Comics history, Batman: The Killing Joke is both divisive and inspiring in equal measure. Since its release in 1988, the infamous one-shot story from Alan Moore which gave Batman's greatest nemesis an origin story has drawn critique for how grim and dark it is -- especially in terms of the treatment of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl -- but has also defined the Joker as well. The successful Joaquin Phoenix-starring 2019 film Joker was itself inspired, in part by The Killing Joke. Now, in a new interview Moore, who has notably disavowed The Killing Joke for years, is going a bit further expressing disdain that the work had inspired the film -- and going on to note that the best version of Batman in his opinion is the brightest one, the one brought to life by the late Adam West.
"I've been told the Joker film wouldn't exist without my Joker story (1988's Batman: The Killing Joke) but three months after I'd written that I was disowning it, it was far too violent -- it was Batman for Christ's sake, it's a guy dressed as a bat," Moore told Deadline.
Moore, who is promoting his film The Show, went on then to say that the more versions of Batman he sees, the more he thinks Adam West's Bright Knight take in the 1960s ABC Batman series as well as the 1966 theatrical feature film is the best take because the character wasn't taken too seriously.
"Increasingly I think the best version of Batman was Adam West, which didn't take it at all seriously," Moore said.
The idea that things are too serious when it comes to not just Batman but comics in general is something Moore addressed in the interview as well, re-affirming that he's done with comics and that he's seen the industry change, moving away from being a medium for the common person -- specifically children -- to something that has "blighted" culture.
"Most people equate comics with superhero movies now That adds another layer of difficulty for me," Moore said. "I haven't seen a superhero movie since the first Tim Burton Batman film. They have blighted cinema, and also blighted culture to a degree. Several years ago, I said I thought it was a really worrying sign, that hundreds of thousands of adults were queuing up to see characters that were created 50 years ago to entertain 12-year-old boys. That seemed to speak to some kind of longing to escape from the complexities of the modern world, and go back to a nostalgic, remembered childhood. That seemed dangerous, it was infantilizing the population."
What do you think about Moore's comments, both about The Killing Joke and his choice of West as the best live-action Batman? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Moore's The Show, which has ties to the short films he produced a few years ago, debuted online this week and will receive a physical screening on October 12.