The new movie from director Todd Phillips, with Joaquin Phoenix taking on the infamous villain, has brewed critical acclaim – but also immense controversy. Joker is heading for a $188-$194 million worldwide opening weekend.
The film’s synopsis reads:
Joker centers around the iconic arch-nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen.
The exploration of Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), a man disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.
Rating 15 in the UK for ‘strong bloody violence, language’ and R in the US, it’s a thundering, volatile triumph of a movie that isn’t for the faint of heart. If anything, the flurry of flustered tweets go to show the film did exactly what it intended.
One viewer tweeted after seeing the movie:
Another user tweeted:
Family members of the infamous Dark Knight Rises massacre in Aurora, Colorado, also recently penned a letter to Warner Bros. with concerns about the movie.
Part of the letter reads:
We are calling on you to be a part of the growing chorus of corporate leaders who understand that they have a social responsibility to keep us all safe.
In 2012, James Holmes opened fire on an Aurora Cinemark theatre audience, taking the lives of 12 people and injuring a further 70. Reports circulated in the fallout claiming he called himself ‘The Joker’, although authorities have denied this.
In response, Warner Bros. issued a statement – extending their sympathy to the families while acknowledging that gun control and violence is a critical issue. However, they add that Joker is not an endorsement of ‘real-world violence’.
Ahead of the film’s much-anticipated release, the Los Angeles Police Department also confirmed there would be ‘high visibility’ police presence around screenings.
Commenting on the claims over the film’s violence, Phillips said:
I thought, isn’t that a good thing, to put real-world implications on violence? Isn’t it a good thing to take away the cartoon element about violence that we’ve become so immune to?
I was a little surprised when it turns into that direction, that it’s irresponsible. Because, to me, it’s very responsible to make it feel real and make it have weight and implications.
The film doesn’t glorify violence, nor does it completely justify the Joker’s actions – it’s a tale of pure, horrific villainy, like a double-barrel blast to the head.
Sometimes, people just need to relax.