DC’s Joker movie will chronicle the story of how Batman’s greatest villain came to be, and how his malevolent madness stirs chaos in the streets of Gotham City. However, Joker‘s chaos effect seems to be spreading beyond the film itself, as there’s growing controversy over what kind of message the movie is sending.
According to some critics who have seen the movie early, Joker runs the risk of being perceived as glorification of what one angry and disturbed loner is able to accomplish. That kind of message is severely ill-timed, as continued strings of mass shootings and other real-life acts of terrorism have sparked widespread discussion about what kind of violent men there are lurking in the societal underbelly.
Debate over whether Joker turns that kind of archetype into a heroic figure (intentionally or not), is already provoking some impassioned arguments online – a full month before the film even hits theaters. Here’s what Variety had to say regarding the quickly-mounting controversy over Joker:
Joker,” a very R-rated look at the early days of Batman’s main antagonist, was the darling of the Venice Film Festival, capturing rave reviews and an eight-minute (we timed it!) standing ovation. But the film also inspired controversy. Some critics and social media commentators worried that “Joker” sympathizes with a homicidal loner at a time when America and the rest of the world are plagued by gun violence. That all but guarantees that “Joker” will be a topic of fierce debate at Toronto, where it will screen again, as critics and audiences grapple over the questions of whether it’s a brilliant piece of art or a danger to society. If the filmmakers are able to address those fears, “Joker” could be the rare comic-book movie that also becomes a certified Oscar contender…”
It seems that while Warner Bros. overcame the risk of making a Joker origin film, they next have to get over the cultural hurdle of negative PR regarding the film’s message. So while Joker is currently projected for a $100 million opening weekend, it remains to be seen if the film’s bleak tone and questionable thematic messages chase away a larger mainstream audience. Then again, any film labeled “controversial” – which also has a buzzed-about Joker performance in it – is bound to intrigue just as many mainstream moviegoers.
It is important to routinely remind ourselves that this is a film about a comic book villain who started off as a ridiculous mad clown caricature. It’s not a real life threat.
Upcoming DC movies include Joker on October 4th, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) on February 7, 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020, The Batman on June 25, 2021, The Suicide Squad on August 6, 2021, and Aquaman 2on December 16, 2022.