Joker director Todd Phillips has further addressed the criticism surrounding his upcoming DC character study, doubling down on his stance that the film cannot be linked to real-world violence.
During an interview with the AP Entertainment, Phillips was asked his thoughts regarding the fear some people have going into Joker's wide release. Notably, those affected by the 2012 Aurora, Colo. shooting -- which occurred during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises -- recently penned a letter of concern to Warner Bros. (which has since issued a response.)
Writer-director Todd Phillips says it isn't fair to link his #JokerMovie to real-world violence: "It's a fictional character in a fictional world that's been around for 80 years." pic.twitter.com/NcT4d9fjOQ— AP Entertainment (@APEntertainment) September 24, 2019
"I think that Aurora is obviously a horrible, horrible situation," Phillips said. "But even that is not something you blame on the movie. And quite frankly if you do your own research about Aurora, that gentleman wasn't even going in as Joker, that was misreported. His hair was dyed red, he was having, obviously, a mental breakdown, and there's something horrifying about it. But it wasn't related to it, outside of the fact that it happened at a movie theater. But this is not the thing that the movie is trying to represent. The movie still takes place in a fictional world. It can have real world implications, opinions. But it's a fictional character in a fictional world that's been around for 80 years."
The director refers to reports and rumors that the perpetrator of the Aurora shooting committed the act in-character as the Joker. These claims were later debunked by George Brauchler, the prosecutor on the case. "It is not true [and] ridiculous," Brauchler said, describing the reports as "completely unfounded." He added, "It had nothing to do that we can find with Batman."
Phillips also addressed what he feels is a double standard regarding perception of films that portray graphic violence. "The one that bugs me more is -- in toxic, white male thing -- when you go, 'I just saw John Wick 3. He's a white male. He kills 300 people and everybody's laughing and hooting and hollering.' Why does this movie get held to different standards? It honestly doesn't make sense to me."
In a previous interview, Phillips -- alongside Joker star Joaquin Phoenix -- already rebutted the idea the film could inspire real-life violence, as well as explained what his true intentions with the film's narrative were. "The movie makes statements about a lack of love, childhood trauma, lack of compassion in the world," he said. "I think people can handle that message."
However, in addition to the letter sent to Warner Bros., Joker will not be screened at the theater where the 2012 Aurora shooting incident took place. And as a precautionary measure, the United States military has advised servicemen to be vigilant during showings of the film.
Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, Josh Pais and Shea Whigham. The film arrives in theaters Oct. 4.