After multiple portrayals of the DC supervillain, Joker, Joaquin Phoenix is falling in the footsteps of Heath Ledger and Jared Leto to bring back the most loved and abhorred evil to life in a way that has never been attempted before. But that’s not the only reason the film has been raking in headlines, as the film is also in the news for other, not so great reasons as well- the chances of the film triggering violence.
In a recent interview about his role, Phoenix left the room after he was asked whether he was “worried” that Joker would inspire “exactly the kind of people it’s about, with potentially tragic results”. After responding with, “Why would you…? No…no,” the actor stormed out of the room. After “an hour’s peace-brokering with a Warner Bros PR to get things back on track”, Phoenix returned to the room and explained that he “panicked… because the question genuinely hadn’t crossed his mind before”. He refused to answer or elaborate further on the question.
Director Todd Phillips had answered a similar question regarding the potential of the film to be “dangerous”. He asked the viewers to watch the film “with an open mind.” Pointing out that there are the rare few who are “capable of interpreting anything in the way that they may want to”, he added that it is not the responsibility of the filmmaker to “teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong.”
And looking like the fear of the film setting off violence is not merely a question anymore as theatres like AMC Theatres, the US’s largest cinema chain with more than 600 venues, has explicitly stated that they are “working with law enforcement” and denied permission to “masks, face paint or any object that conceals the face” during the film’s screening.
Also, following a petition by the families of victims of the 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado, during the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, Joker has been denied being released at the Century Aurora and XD theatre. Furthermore, the US army officials shared that the FBI has information of a “credible potential mass shooting” after “disturbing and very specific” discussions connected to the film took place on the dark web.
“While there are no credible threats in the Los Angeles area, the department will maintain high visibility around movie theatres when it opens,” police in Los Angeles said in a statement.