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>In the geek pantheon, the comic “Batman: The Killing Joke” has an almost sacred place: A one-off written by Alan Moore, it’s almost as revered as “The Dark Knight Returns,” ....

>But somehow, the movie (which opens today), at least in its treatment of Batgirl, has gone very wrong, and at an otherwise cheery San Diego Comic-Con, a screening and panel on “The Killing Joke” turned into a real mess.

>Apparently the expanded role for Gordon, who is the librarian daughter of the police commissioner, involves her dressing up as a way to attract Batman, having sex with him, and then getting shot and paralyzed by the Joker. The paralysis part has been part of the “Killing Joke” mythology — which exists at a side to the usual Batman story, a bit like the Gnostic Gospels — and it’s been controversial among feminists. (Moore has nearly disowned the comic, and is not proud of the way he treated her.)

>But by giving Batgirl, portrayed almost like a daughter to Batman in much of the standard story, a sexual relationship to him, the filmmakers have complicated things. And even though she takes up more space in the movie than in the comic, she now plays two stereotypical roles in the plot: She is both a sex object (for a paternal figure usually presumed to be much older than her) and a female victim whose injury drives the plot but leaves her high and dry. The fact that Batman seems to snub her after their romantic encounter doesn’t help.

>A Joker cosplayer asked the writers why they would downplay Barbara Gordon, such a strong female character, and make her story more about the men in her life... the writers insisted she was still a strong female character. Konrad ... himself sarcastically shouted, “Yeah, by using sex and then pining for Bruce.”

>That’s when co-screenwriter Brian Azzarello seemed to put it all out there. “Wanna say that again? Pussy?” he asked.