The Caped Crusader faces his most challenging case yet in the trailer for Batman: The Killing Joke. The teaser trailer back in April focused on Mark Hamill’s great voice performance, but the new trailer gives audiences a closer look at the animation. And things look bad for the Dark Knight: Some wily supervillain or other seems to have stolen almost all of the inbetweens, the drawings between keyframes in animation that create the illusion of motion! It’ll be a tough case for the world’s greatest detective to solve, because the simplest action—walking along an asylum corridor, say—has been transformed into a stuttering, herky-jerky nightmare, advancing only every fourth frame (6 frames per second). Holy limited animation, Batman! Some of the motion is smoother—it varies shot by shot—but the overall effect looks a lot more like Hanna-Barbera than Richard Williams.
Adapting The Killing Joke was always going to be a tough job: No matter how influential the graphic novel was, one of its key plot points was OKed, according to writer Alan Moore, by an editor telling him, “Yeah, okay, cripple the bitch.” Given DC’s current attempt to corner the cinematic market on darkness for middle schoolers, it is probably optimistic to hope that they’ve found a fresh take on this story. Batman and the Joker will stutter step their way into theaters for a one-night-only engagement on July 25, and arrive on Blu-ray and VOD the next day. But judging from the trailer (to paraphrase a much more impressively animated character), this Joker isn’t just bad, he’s also drawn that way.