'Joker' director says 'it doesn't make sense' that 'John Wick' movies aren't pulled up for violence

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

Joker director Todd Phillips has questioned why the violent John Wick movies are 'held to a different standard' than his own.

Phillips is now battling a narrative surrounding his movie's scenes of violence, after it emerged that families of the victims of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, signed a letter to Warner Bros calling for the studio to show 'social responsibility' with regard to gun violence in its movies.

Lone gunman James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 when he opened fire during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012.

Read more: Warner Bros responds to Joker violence controversy

Though it was reported at the time that he was inspired by the character of the Joker, police later said that there was no evidence to support this.

Speaking to AP, Phillips said: “Aurora is obviously a horrible, horrible situation, but even that is not something you blame on the movie.

“That gentleman wasn't even going in as Joker, it was misreported. His hair was died red and he was obviously having a mental breakdown. But it wasn't related to [the movie] outside of the fact that it happened at a movie theatre.”

Phillips then went on to question why movies like the John Wick series get a pass, while Joker is now the centre of a row over gun violence in movies.

“The one that bugs me more is the toxic white male thing when you go, ‘Oh, I just saw John Wick 3.’ He’s a white male who kills 300 people and everybody’s laughing and hooting and hollering,” he added.

Director Todd Phillips, left and actor Joaquin Phoenix pose for photographers upon arrival at the screening for the film Joker, at a central London cinema, Wednesday, Sept 25, 2019. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

“Why does this movie get held to different standards? It honestly doesn’t make sense to me.”

It also recently emerged that the now-remodelled cinema in which the Aurora shooting happened will not be showing the movie, which stars Joaquin Phoenix in a gritty origin story of Batman's arch nemesis.

Warner Bros released a statement following the letter from the families of the Aurora shooting victims.

“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.

Read more: Aurora cinema will not show Joker

“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.

“At the same time, Warner Bros believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues.

“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.”

The movie, which has been critically acclaimed and won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, lands in the UK on October 4.