The Batman movies have always been on the darker and grittier side, Bat-nipples not withstanding. A few minor edits and any of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films could have gone from a PG-13 to an R-rating. The Joker did slam a guy’s head down onto the point of a pencil, after all. But, while they’ve previously only flirted with a level of intensity only seen in R-rated films, Warner Bros. has reportedly given approval for an upcoming Batman movie to actually be rated R.

At #NYCC panel for the animated film Batman: Bad Blood, producer James Tucker said that Warner Bros. has given his upcoming animated movie, an adaptation of Alan Moore’s seminal The Killing Joke story, approval to seek an R-rating. Tucker, perhaps sensing the buzz in the room, clarified though that just because Warner Bros. has agreed to an R-rating or Batman: The Killing Joke, doesn’t necessarily mean that director Sam Liu’s film will actually chase that rating.

When Batman: The Killing Joke was announced at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, many wondered how Warner Bros. planned to take one of Batman’s most violent and controversial stories, and adapt it into an animated film. For the uninitiated, Moore’s one-off story involves The Joker paralyzes Barbara Gordon with a bullet to the spine, later kidnapping Commissioner Gordon, stripping him naked and showing him photos of Barbara’s bloody, naked body in an attempt to drive him insane. So yeah, not the usual PG-13 animated fare.

The Killing Joke has always sparked much debate among Batman fans and even Moore has been critical of the storyline, saying he regrets the decision and wish DC editors had reined him in. (Moore also claimed that his DC editor told him, “Cripple the bitch” when he pitched the story.) Despite the controversy though, The Killing Joke remains one of the most popular Batman storylines and was one of the few Batman stories to survive DC’s ‘The New 52’ reboot in 2011.

We’d never be behind making a Batman movie rated-R just for the hell of it, but it’s hard to imagine Batman: The Killing Joke told in a way that was faithful to the original while also getting a PG-13 rating.

Batman: The Killing Joke is set to premiere on video in 2016 with Mark Hamill reprising his role as The Joker.

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