DC's Joker movie has been stirring controversy since the very first critics screenings were held, and that infamy is only growing. Joker is now back in the headlines, thanks to a new petition by family members of the victims killed in the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. In a letter sent to Warner Bros., the Aurora victims' surviving loved ones are urging the studio to donate to gun-victim charities. Joker will not be shown at the Aurora Cinemark theater (now renamed Century Aurora and XD), where seven years ago a gunman opened fire on a crowd during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
Here's a portion of the letter the Aurora families sent to Warner Bros., courtesy of THR:
"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."
Various members of the victims' families are also speaking out in the press, expressing their concerns over Joker.
"My worry is that one person who may be out there — and who knows if it is just one — who is on the edge, who is wanting to be a mass shooter, may be encouraged by this movie. And that terrifies me," said Sandy Phillips, mother of Aurora shooting victim Jessica Ghawi. She added that in her view, the film is, "like a slap in the face."
The primary point of contention seem to be that the film's depiction of an angry loner escalating to a societal threat is too real, and too disturbing. There's legitimate concern that the film could inspire real-life acts of violence - a sentiment that's not limited to this one activist group.
Early reactions to Joker have also expressed many concerns that the film could be interpreted as a rallying cry for the mentally unbalanced and downtrodden of society to rise up and express themselves through violent acts. At the same time, there are just as many critics who came away saying that Joker is a character study of an iconic comic book villain, that works as a warning cry of where society may headed (or where it's already arrived), rather than an endorsement.
In the end, good cinema is meant to stir reflect and debate about interpretation and meaning, and so far, Joker seems to be doing just that. The film has already won a prestigious festival award, and is now poised to de-throne Venom for biggest October box office opening ever.
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 2on December 16, 2022.