Far left's outrage is as bad as the far right, says 'Joker' director Todd Phillips

Ben Arnold
Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (Credit: Warner Bros)

Todd Phillips, the director of Joker, has said that the outraged behaviour of those on the far-left can become blurred with the actions of those on the far-right.

Despite being released at roughly the same time as the ultra violent new Rambo movie, the DC spin-off, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the tortured stand-up comedian who becomes Batman's nemesis, has become the centre of a row over gun violence in the movies.

And Phillips is now hitting back in interviews, after yesterday saying that he doesn't understand how the violence in the John Wick movies is cheered while his film is being hauled over the coals.

“I think it’s because outrage is a commodity, I think it’s something that has been a commodity for a while,” Phillips told The Wrap, in an interview conducted prior to this week's outrage, but published on Wednesday.

Read more: Warner Bros responds to Joker violence controversy

“What’s outstanding to me in this discourse in this movie is how easily the far left can sound like the far right when it suits their agenda. It’s really been eye-opening for me.”

Director Todd Phillips and actor Joaquin Phoenix (Credit: Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

“Isn’t it good to have these discussions about these movies, about violence?” Phillips added. “Why is that a bad thing if the movie does lead to a discourse about it? We didn’t make the movie to push buttons.

“I literally described to Joaquin at one point in those three months 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 behaviour.’ It was literally like, ‘Let’s make a real movie with a real budget and we’ll call it (expletive) Joker.’ That’s what it was.”

The simmering debate calls back to the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012 when lone gunman James Holmes shot and killed 12 people and injured 70 at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises.

Read more: Todd Phillips expresses anger over Joker double standard

Though initial reporting said Holmes was inspired by the DC character the Joker, as seen in the previous Batman movie, The Dark Knight, played as a homicidal maniac by the late Heath Ledger, such claims were later found to be untrue.

Since then, and because of Joker's proximity to a previous mass shooting, families of the victims have rounded on Warner Bros, signing a letter in which the studio is asked to show more 'social responsibility' in using gun violence in its movies.

In a statement defending its position, it said: “Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies,” the studio said in a statement.

“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.

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker (Credit: Warner Bros)

“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.”

Yesterday parents of another of the victims of the shooting asked Warner Bros' umbrella company AT&T to stop donating to politicians who ‘stand in the way of gun reform’ and receive funding from the National Rifle Association.

Joker lands in the UK on 4 October.