Joker film does not endorse violence, says Warner Bros amid controversy

The studio said it was not its intention to hold up Joaquin Phoenix’s character "as a hero"

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With controversy rife surrounding Todd Phillips’ DC movie Joker, distributors Warner Bros has disputed claims the film glamorises mass murder.

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“Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind,” the studio said about the film centring on Joaquin Phoenix’s killer clown (via Variety). “It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.”

The company spoke up after victims of the 2012 mass shooting at a The Dark Knight Rises screening in Aurora, Colorado, penned a letter voicing their concerns about the film. Although they didn’t call for an outright ban, the letter called for Warner Bros to get further involved in the US gun control movement.

“Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies,” the company responded in its statement.

“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.”

Although there is already Oscar buzz surrounding Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of the classic Batman villain, some, such as IndieWire have labelled the project “a toxic rallying cry for self-pitying incels”.

Others are concerned that Joker asks the audience to sympathise with the titular character, who is seen kick-starting a violent crime spree in a gritty Gotham City circa 1981.

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Whether you consider it a dangerous portrayal of evil or a bold reinvention of superhero cinema, Joker is available to watch in UK cinemas from 4th October.