The upcoming Joker isn't the first R-rated comic book movie, but given the number of superhero adventures that land in theaters each year, it would be easy for the uninformed to mistake it for a family-friendly adventure, resulting in the Alamo Drafthouse theater chain offering a reminder to customers that the new film is much darker and more disturbing in nature. Even still, some R-rated films only earn that certification due to crude humor or drug use, with Drafthouse emphasizing that the film features graphic depictions of violence and "overall bad vibes." Check out the warning below and see Joker in theaters Friday.
The warning reads, "Joker is rated R and for good reason. There's lots of very, very rough language, brutal violence, and overall bad vibes. It's a gritty, dark, and realistic, Taxi Driver-esque depiction of one man's descent into madness. It's not for kids, and they won't like it, anyway. (There's no Batman.)"
Before the current renaissance of superhero movies, films like 1989's The Punisher and 1998's Blade earned R ratings, yet their debuts came at times in which there weren't comic book movies debuting in theaters every month and there was less anticipation around screenings. Even Punisher: War Zone, which debuted after the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially launched, flew under many audiences' radars, despite it fully embracing the carnage of its source material.
One of the biggest developments in the world of adult-oriented superhero cinema came in 2016 with the release of Deadpool, earning its R rating for its obscene humor and graphic violence. Deadpool went on to be one of the biggest hits of the year, with substantial portions of its audience being under the age of 17, though its humorous nature made the violence feel more like a cartoon than a disturbing depiction of real-world violence. Joker, on the other hand, has been noted by critics as having a much more unsettling and realistic tone.
Despite the film's darker tone, director Todd Phillips previously weighed in on concerns that the film could glorify what is depicted on screen.
"We didn't make the movie to push buttons," Phillips said in an interview with TheWrap. "I literally described to Joaquin at one point in those three months as like, 'Look at this as a way to sneak a real movie in the studio system under the guise of a comic book film'. It wasn't, 'We want to glorify this behavior.' It was literally like 'Let's make a real movie with a real budget and we'll call it f–ing Joker'. That's what it was."
Joker lands in theaters Friday.
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