Isnt it a good thing to put real-world implications on violence? he said on Wednesday after the New York Film Festival screening of the controversial Warner Bros. movie starring Joaquin Phoenix as the iconic DC Comics villain. Isnt that a good thing to take away the cartoon element of violence that weve become so immune to? So I was a little surprised when it turns into that direction, that it seems irresponsible because to me it seems actually very responsible to make it feel real and make it that weight.
More from Variety
- How Makeup, Hair and Costume Team Gave 'Joker' a New Look for Origin Story
- New York Film Review: 'Born to Be'
- New York Film Review: 'Oliver Sacks: His Own Life'
After the movies world premiere last month at the Venice Film Festival and then another big showing at TIFF, family members and friends of the Aurora shooting victims — a mass shooting that occurred at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012 — wrote a letter to the studio expressing concern about the movie’s gun violence. In the letter, they asked the studio to get more involved in the gun control movement while also asking them not to refrain from donating to politicians who also accept money from the NRA.
The studio responded with its own statement, which said the movie is not intended as an endorsement of violence and that the filmmakers do not consider the Joker a hero.
At the post-screening panel on Wednesday, Phillips also said, Its a complicated movie and Ive said it before that I think its okay thats its complicated.
However, he added, I didnt imagine the level of discourse that its reached in the world honestly. I think its interesting. I think its okay that it sparks conversations and there are debates around it. The film is the statement and its great to talk about it but its much more helpful if youve seen it.
He went on to criticize people who have attacked “Joker” without seeing the film, although he didn’t think the criticisms would ultimately affect the movie’s performance.
I dont know that its hurt the movie, Phillips said. It probably has helped and its good to have people talking.