Joker director Todd Phillips has defended his film in the wake of criticism over its depiction of violence, claiming it was “very responsible to make it feel real”.
The director said he found it “surprising” that critics have suggested that Joker glorifies its protagonist, a psychopath who goes on a killing spree with a gun in a manner that feels very close to home in 2019 USA.
“I thought, isn’t that a good thing, to put real-world implications on violence?” he told the audience at a screening during the New York Film Festival. “Isn’t it a good thing to take away the cartoon element about violence that we’ve become so immune to?
“I was a little surprised when it turns into that direction, that it’s irresponsible. Because, to me, it’s very responsible to make it feel real and make it have weight and implications.”
Last month, family members of the victims of the 2012 Aurora shooting (which took place during a screening of another Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises) penned a letter to Warner Bros expressing concerns about the gun violence in Joker, asking studio bosses to get more involved in the gun control movement.
“There’s been a lot said about this movie – a lot said by me, too. I’ve learned,” Phillips told the audience. “It’s a complicated movie and I’ve said it before that I think it’s okay that’s it’s complicated.”
Warner Bros released a statement in response to the criticism, which says that the film is not “an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind”, and that “it is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold the character up as a hero.” Read it in full here.
Joker is released in cinemas on Friday 4th October