With a just over a week before Joker premieres in theaters, Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Comics have had to deal with a new wave of criticisms that point out the film's violent themes and graphic actions in a world where mass shootings continue to occur at an alarming rate. The studio and the filmmakers involved with Joker have all gone on the record to distance their movie from real life accounts of violence, with director Todd Phillips previously stating that it was an unfair link.
Now the director has opened up about the criticisms being levied at Joker, explaining that this movie was never meant to offend people or inspire violence.
"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 has received criticism from a group of survivors of the Aurora movie theater shooting in 2012, which occurred during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. This caused Warner Bros. to issue a statement condemning gun violence, stating that the movie is not intended to inspire violence but to inspire conversations about these issues.
"Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies. Our company has a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora, and in recent weeks, our parent company joined other business leaders to call on policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address this epidemic," a representative from Warner Bros. said in a statement on Tuesday. "At the same time, Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues. Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero."
Phillips went on to criticize some of the discussions surrounding Joker, calling it a byproduct of the political climate in the country.
"I think it's because outrage is a commodity, I think it's something that has been a commodity for a while," he said. "What's outstanding to me in this discourse in this movie is how easily the far left can sound like the far right when it suits their agenda. It's really been eye opening for me."
Joker premieres in theaters on October 4th.