Todd Phillips, director of the upcoming film “Joker,” pushed back in an interview published Wednesday against “far-left” critics who say the film glorifies violence. He accused them of looking for an excused to feel outraged.
Ahead of a wide release on Oct. 4, “Joker,” an origin story about Gotham City's most notorious archvillain and Batman foil, has raised concerns that its central character – a downtrodden comedian driven to insanity – could inspire violence.
Time magazine critic Stephanie Zacharek wrote earlier this month that Arthur Fleck – who ultimately becomes the Joker – “could easily be adopted as the patron of incels.” By "incels," she was referring to an online subculture of people who identify as involuntarily celibate, meaning they are unable to find romantic partners even though they desire one.
Multiple mass shooters, including Elliot Rodger, who killed six people near the University of California’s Santa Barbara campus in 2014, identified as incel. Military commanders have warned service members about the potential for mass shootings by incels at screenings of the film.
On Tuesday, survivors of the 2012 mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, alarmed by the violence depicted in trailers for “Joker,” signed an open letter to Warner Bros. asking the studio to donate to gun control causes.
In an interview with “The Wrap” last Friday, Phillips played down concern over “Joker,” chalking it up to people wanting something to be angry about.
“I think it’s because outrage is a commodity, I think it’s something that has been a commodity for a while,” Phillips said. “What’s outstanding to me in this discourse in this movie is how easily the far left can sound like the far right when it suits their agenda. It’s really been eye-opening for me.”
Phillips said his intention was not to “push buttons,” but to “sneak a real movie in the studio system under the guise of a comic book film.”