Joker has enjoyed immense success at the box office and became the most profitable comic book movie of all time. Most thoughts about the controversy that swirled around the film are in the rearview mirror, but Joaquin Phoenix had to answer some questions about the violence of the film in the Los Angeles Times. The paper sat down with the Joker star to talk about a number of subjects. One of the topics that was bound to surface was the idea that some person could feel emboldened by the movie and commit an act of violence on innocent people. That sort of responsibility weighed heavily on Phoenix as he waffled on whether or not to see the movie he starred in. He and director Todd Phillips had to make a conscious decision to depict this story the way they both wanted to and so far it has paid off in a huge way.
“It was an awkward position to be in because I thought, ‘Well, I can’t address this because this is the thing that is potentially part of the problem — that’s precisely what you shouldn’t do,’” Phoenix explained. “So it suddenly seemed like I was being evasive and trying to avoid this topic because it made me uncomfortable. But really I was thinking, ‘This is the very thing that would excite this kind of personality.’ ”
Phillips also challenged the notion that his movie was this divisive force during Joker’s press tour. The director got political in his defense and claimed that the discourse around his film was due to "the far left."
"I think it's because outrage is a commodity, I think it's something that has been a commodity for a while," Phillips began. "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 been really eye-opening for me."
Joker’s director also said that the film wasn't created to offend anybody. He doesn’t even feel as though it should even be considered a comic book movie.
"We didn't make the movie to push buttons," Phillips continued. "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 is now in theaters. Upcoming DC Movies include 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.