The U.S. Military Sends Warning About Joker Screenings And Possible Violence

Joaquin as Joker

If there's one upcoming movie on everyone's lips, its Todd Phillips' Joker. The psychological origin story was met with near universal acclaim when debuting at the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals. Joaquin Phoenix has been praised for his performance, with early talks of an Oscar nomination already happening. But there has been some controversy surrounding the movie, with critics fearing it might incite violence. And now those concerns have even reached the U.S. Military.

There have been concerns about Joker's contents after its early screenings. Some felt that Todd Phillips' movie has the potential to encourage volatile moviegoers who identified with Arthur Fleck's sad life. The concerns were also raised by the family members of the 2012 Aurora Mass Shooting, in a letter to the studio. And it turns out U.S. Military has also issued a warning about the movie's release, and the possibility of another shooting once it arrives in theaters.

This update comes to us from io9, revealing an e-mail sent on September 18th regarding the potential dangers of Joker's upcoming theatrical run. The U.S. military was reportedly alerted to the possibilities of violence by the FBI, after monitoring social media posts of individuals who referenced recreating the 2012 Aurora Colorado shooting. But the e-mail does clarify that the military's measures for safety are merely precautionary at this time, rather than in response to a viable and direct threat.

One army official was quoted about this Joker related alert, saying:

We do this routinely because the safety and security of our workforce is paramount. We want our workforce to be prepared and diligent on personal safety both inside the workplace and out.

This warning, and the attention the military and FBI are taking to Joker's upcoming release, have become public just one day after the family members of Aurora Shooting victims made their feelings about the upcoming villain-centric blockbuster known. Five individuals who lost loved ones during the 2012 shooting have penned a letter to Warner Bros., expressing their concerns about the movie's message and how it might affect vulnerable moviegoers. In addition to voicing issue with how the studio is approaching the title character, the group also encouraged Warner Bros. to donate money toward organizations that aids victims of gun violence.

Warner Bros. promptly responded to the concerns of those victim's families. Although this latest update about the FBI and Military's awareness of Joker's road to seemingly supports those concerns. The studio's statement about the situation reads,

Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies. 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. Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.

Warner Bros. and Todd Phillips have both addressed the ongoing situation regarding Joker's contents, and seem confident that the movie doesn't encourage violence of glamorize the title character's descent into madness and murder. Although now it appears that the more pressing issue is the safety of moviegoers who will be attending screenings during the upcoming DC movie's opening weekend.

Related: Joker Got A Lengthy Standing Ovation When It Premiered At Venice Film Festival

It should be interesting to see if/how this controversy affects the reception for Joker. The movie gained a ton of praise during its early screenings, with initial reviews applauding the overall film and Joaquin Phoenix's performance as Arthur Fleck. Luckily, the wait is almost over.

Joker will hit theaters on October 4th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.