Warner Bros. on 'Joker' controversy: Character not a 'hero'

Warner Bros. has weighed in on the controversy surrounding 'Joker'. The studio issued a statement in the wake of families of Aurora shooting victims voicing their concerns about the upcoming film.

In the statement, the studio hit back at remarks that the movie is glamorising a mass murderer, reported Variety.

The studio has also claimed that the main character is not a "hero." "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 statement read.

Warner Bros. broke its silence on the matter after family members of those killed in the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting during a screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' in 2012 sent Warner Bros. a letter voicing their concerns about the movie.

The letter supported the studio's right to make the film and promoted freedom of speech and artistic expression. However, they urged Warner Bros. to take steps to get involved in the gun control movement, including pledging not to donate to political candidates who take money from the NRA.

While they didn't ask for the flick to be pulled or for moviegoers to boycott it, the families of the victims asked the studio to "end political contributions to candidates who take money from the NRA and vote against gun reform." Warner Bros. said that the company has a history of supporting those causes.

"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 statement read.

"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," the statement added.

The letter written to Warner Bros. from the families of Aurora victims was signed by Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, a couple whose 24-year-old daughter Jessica Ghawi was murdered, Theresa Hoover, the mother of 18-year-old Alexander J. Boik, who was killed, Heather Dearman, whose cousin Ashley Moser lost an unborn child and a 6-year-old daughter, and Tiina Coon, whose son was a witness of the shootings.

The shooting in Aurora took place during a screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' and resulted in 12 deaths and 70 injuries. Following the shooting, Warner Bros., which produced the film, donated USD 2 million to the victims and the survivors.

'Joker' tells the story of an aspiring stand-up comedian (Joaquin Phoenix) whose mental health issues escalate, ultimately leading him to a life of criminality.

Directed by Todd Phillips, the upcoming flick is a part of the DC Comics universe but will serve as an independent origin story and will not feature any appearances by Batman and other caped crusaders.

Apart from Phoenix, the movie also features Robert De Niro, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, Josh Pais, and Shea Whigham. It is slated to hit the theatres on October 4.

Also Read: Joaquin Phoenix defends 'Joker' as families of shooting victims voice concern over film