Joker, who we know as Batman’s archnemesis in the DC Comics, premiered on October 4 to the public and has since received many mixed reviews and has been referred to as the most controversial film of Oscar season. The Rated R thriller takes the audience on the comic book villain’s origin story starring Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker, in what critics have claimed to promote violence and stir fear onto viewers. The film’s character, Arthur Fleck is portrayed to viewers as a mentally troubled comedian who is mistreated by society who then comes face to face with his alter ego as he embarks on a journey of heinous crime.
Since the making of the film was officially announced and the official trailer was released, the Joker received opposing opinions. The most pivotal concern for many was that the film would induce viewers to participate in violent acts and would promote violence. Prior to the film’s release, the FBI and U.S Military issued warnings for credible threat of mass shootings at the screenings of the film. Following the warnings issued for the film, precautious measures were followed by law enforcement intensifying police and security at screenings of the movie all around the U.S. These measures were also taken given the comic book villain’s association with a mass shooting in 2012 that occurred in Aurora, Colorado during the screening of the Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises” in which the gunman dressed up as the Joker killing 12 and injuring 70 people. The family members of the victims of the Aurora shooting also criticized the film. In a latest article by Vanity Fair on the film, it was addressed that the family of those affected by the tragedy wrote a letter to Warner Bros. urging them not to cancel the film but to end political contributions to candidates who take money from the NRA (National Riffle Association) and vote against gun reform. They urged Warner Bros. to use their political clout and leverage in Congress to actively lobby for gun reform. Warner Bros, then issued a statement in response confirming that Joker was not an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. Though despite this, appropriate safety measures were taken place during the opening week of the film in various movie theaters across the U.S. including two U.S theatre chains, AMC and Landmark choosing to ban masks and costumes at showings of the film. Parents were also urged to not bring their children to theatres where the film would be showing.
Elsewhere, viewers who enjoyed the film described the thriller as a phenomenal performance by Joaquin Phoenix and a fantastic introduction to the story of the Joker. For instance, podcast host and producer, Charles Kiwacz who believes that the film does not promote fear at all. Instead, he claims that it does the opposite by claiming that people just want to go out and show that a movie can be just that, a movie. Other critics who enjoyed the film, argue that the Joker “offered a glimpse into the reality we are living.” And despite the film’s press-less premiere, in which journalists were banned from attending the red carpet premiere in Hollywood, the film has already made more than $737.5 million worldwide in just 3 weeks of being released.
Ultimately, it is safe to say that the Joker will be among the most talked-about films of 2019 and that the reviews, criticism, and mixed feelings from viewers will keep coming in. With the controversy the film has been associated with, it is only best for viewers to see the film first to formulate an opinion. As director of the Joker, Todd Phillips stated “The film is a statement and it’s great to talk about it, but it’s much more helpful if you’ve seen it.”
Source: Regal Cinemas