Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for the Gotham Knights premiere.The pilot episode of Gotham Knights confirms that the Batman of this reality broke his classic rule and killed The Joker. This continues a trend in recent Batman adaptations, where the Dark Knight’s use of lethal force is meant to set it apart from more traditional interpretations. In the case of Gotham Knights, however, it also serves to increase the tension between two of its lead characters.
The Gotham Knights show is set on an Earth quite different from the classic Gotham City, where Bruce Wayne adopted a boy named Turner Hayes after the violent deaths of Turner’s parents. Turner is shocked by the revelation that Bruce Wayne was Batman, after his father is found dead wearing Batman’s cowl. Despite this, Turner is accused of masterminding the crime after the GCPD discover his bank account was used to pay the accused killers. This leads to Turner being arrested and confined with the teenagers accused of Bruce Wayne’s murder, and his discovery that one of them might have a motive for killing Batman beyond money.
Batman Killed The Joker In Gotham Knights
One of Batman’s accused killers is Duela Doe, who is believed to be The Joker’s daughter. Born in Arkham Asylum, Duela was said to have been in and out of juvenile court throughout her young life. District Attorney Harvey Dent quickly seized upon the idea that Duela might have gone after Bruce Wayne to avenge her father, suggesting that The Joker was killed in a confrontation with Batman. Duela later confirmed that Batman killed the Joker in a conversation with Turner Hayes, but laughed off the idea that she’d try to avenge him, claiming that “Papa J ditched me and my mom in Arkham before my first tooth came in.”
Why So Many Adaptations Have Batman Kill Joker
Gotham Knights is not the first live-action Batman adaptation to have Batman kill The Joker. Luke Fox explained how the Arrowverse Batman killed Joker to Kate Kane in the Batwoman season 1 episode 17,”A Narrow Escape,” noting that the GCPD pretended he was still imprisoned in Arkham Asylum. Batman also killed Joker in Titans’ season 3 premiere, in response to the Clown Prince of Crime murdering Jason Todd’s Robin. The reason for this repetition is that Batman is so famous for his code against killing in the comics that showing him break his one rule is a quick (if lazy) way to raise the stakes in any Batman adaptation.
Confirming that Batman killed The Joker is also a good way to eliminate any possibility of the character showing up later. While this is unlikely to happen in Gotham Knights given the character rights are tied up in the upcoming Joker: Folie à Deux, the question of if The Joker would show up in Batwoman or Titans arose repeatedly until the series shut down the idea. This is for the best, as there seems little point in bringing out the Clown Prince of Crime without a Dark Knight to oppose him.
Gotham Knights airs Tuesdays on The CW.
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