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Leak reveals first look at 'Batman: The Killing Joke' animated film

A leaked behind-the-scenes clip reveals how the upcoming movie, with Mark Hamill as a "really nasty, vile" Joker, expands on the controversial 1988 comic.

A leaked behind-the-scenes video reveals how DC Comics is adapting one of the most controversial Batman comics into a cartoon.

The first clips of the animated version of "The Killing Joke" appear in a 10-minute featurette posted Saturday on YouTube, in which the creators discuss the making of the forthcoming film. Several voices and creators of "Batman: The Animated Series" are reunited for the movie, including Kevin Conroy as Batman and Tara Strong as Batgirl. Mark Hamill once again provides the Joker's dulcet tones.

Hit play below to watch the clip, if DC hasn't removed it from the Web.

The animated film is based on a 1988 graphic novel written by Alan Moore, illustrated by Brian Bolland and originally coloured by John Higgins. The comic sees the villainous Joker kidnap and torture Gotham's top cop, Commissioner Gordon, in a scheme to show Batman that anyone can be pushed to madness. The story is interspersed with flashbacks to the Joker's origin.

The book proved enormously influential, with the portrayal of the Joker casting a shadow over the following Batman comics and the movies "Batman" and "The Dark Knight". It was also controversial due to the Joker's shooting of Barbara Gordon, leaving her paralysed.

Even writer Alan Moore has expressed some misgivings at the casual manner in which the character was maimed, which has been criticised for the way that the horrific act of violence against a woman serves to motivate the male characters.

According to the creators of the animated film, this new version will address that in a prologue sequence that gives screen time to Barbara Gordon and her alter ego Batgirl. The film is also likely to be rated as not for kids. Still, I can't help feeling that the Saturday-morning cartoon style of the animation feels like a strange way to tell such a gruesome story and to portray what Hamill calls a "really nasty, vile Joker". At least the dark visual style of the recent movie "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" matches its violent and nihilistic subject matter.

"The Killing Joke" will be told this summer, likely as a straight-to-video release.