Todd Phillips’ Joker has been subject to controversy in recent weeks, as the family of Aurora victims have called out Warner Bros for its quiet support of candidates and officials aligned with the National Rifle Association. Movie theaters have spoken to safety concerns and banned costumes ahead of the film’s release. Not to mention, the U.S. military took precautionary measures earlier this week regarding a potential threat at an unknown movie theater in Oklahoma.
It’s all a bit of a mess for Joker. Warner Bros, the filmmakers, and leading actor Joaquin Phoenix have insisted the movie is not meant to glamorize or lend sympathy to real-life violence. But now Todd Phillips is bringing America’s Sweetheart, Keanu Reeves, into the discussion and fans are not having it. Check out his recent comments:
The movie still takes place in a fictional world. It can have real world implications [and] opinions but it's a fictional character in a fictional world that's been around for 80 years. The one that bugs me more [about the] toxic white male thing is when you go 'Oh, oh, I just saw John Wick 3. He's a white male and 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 his interview with AP, Joker writer/director responded to fears about the movie’s content by comparing it to summer blockbuster John Wick 3. It's true, both his movie and the Keanu Reeves movie are rooted in fictional worlds and gun violence, but fans don’t agree it’s a fair comparison.
Check out this comment from Twitter user @AgentBlocked:
John Wick is an over the top live-action cartoon full of physically impossible/improbable violence. Joker is aiming for hyper-realism & from day one has been internationally courting controversy. I’m not saying Joker will lead to violence, but this is such a false equivalence.
Remember, the John Wick movies are set off by Keanu Reeves’ character taking revenge on his dog! This sets a completely different tone for the action franchise than the motivations surrounding Joker. Now, the movie still hasn’t been released yet -- so much of the criticism revolving around the movie does seem blown out of proportion -- but they don't seem comparable.
Audiences know the supervillian’s motivations are aligned with someone with a mental health disorder and someone who feels wronged by society. These are elements that real violent people in the world have used to commit illegal acts. John Wick is rooted in a stylized, movie world. It’s over-the-top. He’s an assassin who doesn’t take joy in his work either, as @AlexandraErin explains:
John Wick was a whole movie about a guy who didn't want to kill.
Also, Todd Phillips gets another component wrong about John Wick. Check out @ineslime’s words from Twitter:
a) Keanu Reeves isn’t white try again.
b) Please actually go watch a John Wick movie and retract this statement.
Keanu Reeves is of Chinese-Hawaiian descent, and also has English, Irish, and Portuguese in his blood, and he hails from Canada. Therefore, fans can’t let Todd Phillips align him with “toxic white male” culture of the U.S. Aside from these points made by fans, I think his intentions were to say Joker isn’t by far the first film to show a character commit violent acts, yet it's being singled out.
The controversy surrounding Joker is the fact that a real shooter with dyed red hair, who set booby traps in his apartment, committed his crime at a screening of a Batman movie. During the interview, Todd Phillips sympathized with the tragedy but explained it wasn’t something the movie itself was to blame for, so fans also shouldn't blame Joker.
Joker is expected to see a huge opening weekend when it comes to theaters on October 4. What do you think about Todd Phillips’ recent comments? Sound off below!