With DC and Warner Bros. Joker hitting theaters in just a few days, the film has been the source of quite a bit of controversy, specifically over concerns that the film, which follows a broken man who transforms into the notorious Batman villain the Joker, not only glorifies the villain and violence but could inspire real-life violence as well. Last week, director Todd Phillips spoke out about the concerns, saying that he thinks that it's unfair to link the film to potential real-world violence and then went a bit further and brought up John Wick: Chapter 3 as an example of a violent film that didn't get the same criticisms. Turns out, that's a comparison that isn't sitting particularly well with John Wick fans.
In Phillips' interview with the Associated Press, Phillips tried to separate Joker from the controversy by pointing a finger at John Wick: Chapter 3 as an example of "the toxic white male thing" that people applaud -- his proof of a double standard.
"I mean, I think that Aurora is obviously a horrible, horrible situation but even that is not something you blame on the movie,” Phillips said. “Quite frankly, if you do your own research about Aurora that gentleman wasn't even going in as Joker, That was misreported, his hair was dyed red he was having, obviously, a mental breakdown and there's something horrifying about that but it wasn't related to it outside of the fact that it happened at a movie theater. This is not the thing that the movie is trying to represent. The movie still takes place in a fictional world. It can have real-world invocations, options, but it's a fictional character in a fictional world that's been around for 80 years. The one that bugs me more is the toxic white male thing when you go, oh I just saw John Wick 3. He's a white male who kills 300 people and everybody's laughing and hooting and hollering. Why does this movie get held to different standards? It honestly doesn't make sense to me."
As it turns out, Phillips' comments didn't make sense to John Wick fans. Several on social media pointed out major flaws in Phillips' comparison, including the fact that the Keanu Reeves-portrayed Wick isn't a white male as Reeves is of Chinese-Hawaiian descent. Others pointed out that while yes, John Wick did kill a lot of people, it's not like he did it for fun or even enjoyed it. There's also the tone of the John Wick movies which are, as one fan put it, "an over the top live action cartoon full of physically impossible/improbably violence" as opposed to Joker's hyper realism.
It's that hyper realism that is ultimately the root of the concerns about Joker. While the violence certainly is a factor, the primary point of contention falls around Joker's depiction of an angry loner escalating his pain to a larger-scale societal threat that is too real, too on-the-nose in a time when mass shootings are literally a regular occurrence. No one is arguing that John Wick: Chapter 3 isn't violent, just that trying to compare Joker to it is a bit of a false equivalency. The two films and characters are very different with very different motivations -- which is what the John Wick fans noted.
What do you think? Do you agree with John Wick fans' assessment of the situation? Do you see the two films as being violent in different ways? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Upcoming DC movies include Joker on October 4th, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) on February 7, 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020, The Batman on June 25, 2021, The Suicide Squad on August 6, 2021, and Aquaman 2 on December 16, 2022.
(H/T: Cinema Blend)