Joker director Todd Phillips criticizes outrage of his film amid fears it will incite violence

Todd Phillips has come out swinging in defense of his new film Joker, amid fears its depiction of a depraved murderer could incite real-life violence.

In an interview with The Wrap, which took place on September 20 and was  published on Wednesday, the director scoffed at such suggestions, saying he believes people are simply searching for something to be angry about as ‘outrage has become a commodity’ in American society. 

‘I think it’s something that has been a commodity for a while,’ Phillips mused during his chat with the publication.  

Joker – a psychological thriller that traces the origins of Batman’s nemesis as he becomes a depraved killer – is set for national release on October 4. 

But before it has even hit cinemas, the film has already sparked criticism from some critics, as well as Twitter users, for its depiction of gun violence.  

Phillips told The Wrap that he believes such critiques are coming from the ‘far-left’ who are starting to sound the same as conservatives when they complain about ‘immoral’ films made by Hollywood. 

‘What’s outstanding to me in this discourse… 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,’ he stated. 

Todd Phillips has come out swinging in defense of his new film Joker, amid fears its depiction of a depraved murderer could incite real-life violence

Joker - a psychological thriller that traces the origins of Batman's nemesis as he becomes a depraved killer - is set for national release on October 4. Joaquin Phoenix is pictured in the titular role

Joker - a psychological thriller that traces the origins of Batman's nemesis as he becomes a depraved killer - is set for national release on October 4. Joaquin Phoenix is pictured in the titular role

Joker – a psychological thriller that traces the origins of Batman’s nemesis as he becomes a depraved killer – is set for national release on October 4. Joaquin Phoenix is pictured in the titular role

However, it is not just outraged social media users who have expressed concern ahead of Joker’s release. 

In an official email sent on September 18, the Army warned its service members that there is potential for a mass shooter to open fire at a screening of the Warner Bros. film.  

The warning was issued after intelligence officials with the FBI uncovered social media posts promoting violence by ‘incels’ – an online group of ‘involuntary celibate’ men.  

Army officials claimed that incels ‘also idolize the Joker character, the violent clown from the Batman series, admiring his depiction as a man who must pretend to be happy, but eventually fights back against bullies,’ according to Gizmodo.   

In the September 18 memo, the Army warned service members to be aware of their surroundings and ‘identify two escape routes’ when entering theaters. If a shooting were to break out, they are warned to ‘run, hide, fight’.  

James Holmes opened fire inside an Aurora, Colorado movie theater in 2012, killing 12 people and injuring 70

James Holmes opened fire inside an Aurora, Colorado movie theater in 2012, killing 12 people and injuring 70

James Holmes opened fire inside an Aurora, Colorado movie theater in 2012, killing 12 people and injuring 70 

On Monday, the Army said they received ‘credible’ intelligence of a movie theater attack plot in an unknown theater in Texas.     

Officials with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division said that they received ‘credible’ intelligence from law enforcement in Texas about ‘disturbing and very specific chatter’ on the dark web about ‘the targeting of an unknown movie theater during the release’. 

The FBI said they are in touch with police and private sector partners about the online posts.  

The warning comes amid heightened concern about the film, after a mass shooting at a 2012 screening of The Dark Knight Rises, which also featured the Joker character.   

James Holmes opened fire inside an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, killing 12 and injuring 70. Following the shooting it was said Holmes was inspired by the Joker.

Relatives of the victims in that shooting sent a letter to Warner Bros CEO Ann Sarnoff concerning the movie, fearful that the film could encourage more mass shooters. 

In an official email sent on September 18, the Army warned its service members that there is potential for a mass shooter to open fire at a screening of the Warner Bros. film

In an official email sent on September 18, the Army warned its service members that there is potential for a mass shooter to open fire at a screening of the Warner Bros. film

In an official email sent on September 18, the Army warned its service members that there is potential for a mass shooter to open fire at a screening of the Warner Bros. film

‘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,’ the letter said. The new Joker film will not be shown in the Colorado theater where the shooting occurred.

Warner Bros. responded in a statement on Tuesday: ‘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.

‘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.’

Director Todd Phillips is pictured with actor Joaquin Phoenix at a screening of Joker in London on Tuesday night

Director Todd Phillips is pictured with actor Joaquin Phoenix at a screening of Joker in London on Tuesday night

Director Todd Phillips is pictured with actor Joaquin Phoenix at a screening of Joker in London on Tuesday night

In addition to defending Joker in his interview with The Wrap, Phillips also stood by the film while speaking with IGN last week. 

‘The movie makes statements about a lack of love, childhood trauma, lack of compassion in the world. I think people can handle that message,’ Phillips stated.

He tartly added: ‘To me, art can be complicated and oftentimes art is meant to be complicated. If you want uncomplicated art, you might want to take up calligraphy, but filmmaking will always be a complicated art’.

Joaquin Phoenix – who plays the lead character in the film – also told IGN: ‘I don’t think it’s the responsibility of a filmmaker to teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong’.

Joaquin Phoenix - who plays the lead character in the film - told IGN: 'I don't think it's the responsibility of a filmmaker to teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong'

Joaquin Phoenix - who plays the lead character in the film - told IGN: 'I don't think it's the responsibility of a filmmaker to teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong'

Joaquin Phoenix – who plays the lead character in the film – told IGN: ‘I don’t think it’s the responsibility of a filmmaker to teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong’

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