The director of “Joker” is no joke.
Todd Phillips, whose new “Batman” offshoot opens next week, is taking on the controversy surrounding the film’s release — head on.
In an interview with The Wrap, the auteur said he was surprised by some of the early backlash against the film, with people saying that the film could inspire mass shootings, like the 2012 massacre during an Aurora, Colo., screening of “The Dark Knight.”
A group of victims and family members have criticized Warner Bros. for releasing “Joker,” which stars Joaquin Phoenix as one of the most famous villains of the DC Comics cinematic universe.
“Isn’t it good to have these discussions about these movies, about violence? Why is that a bad thing if the movie does lead to a discourse about it?” he wondered.
He also found it interesting how self-serving the concern has become and believes that people as a whole are looking for a target.
"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 how easily the far left can sound like the far right when it suits their agenda. It's really been eye-opening for me."
He added, “We didn’t make the movie to push buttons. I literally described to Joaquin at one point ... as like, ‘Look at this as a way to sneak a real movie in the studio system under the guise of a comic book film.’ It wasn’t, ‘We want to glorify this behavior.’”
Warner Bros. responded to the victims' letter in a statement that said in part, "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.”
Phoenix, known as a live wire, recently walked out of an interview with The Telegraph when he was asked if he thought it could inspire another Aurora mass shooting.
The actor later told IGN that he disagreed with that notion, saying in part: “I don’t think it’s the responsibility of a filmmaker to teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong...”