Todd Phillips surprised by criticism of violence in Joker

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 3 October 2019
Todd Phillips

Todd Phillips

'Joker' director Todd Phillips admits he has been surprised that his depiction of the "real-world implications" of violence in the DC Comics film have been criticised

Todd Phillips has been surprised by the criticism of 'Joker' because when making the film he believed that his depiction of the "real-world implications" of violence were a needed departure from the glorification of it in other action movies.

The American director has re-imagined the origin story of the DC Comics villain, who is played by Joaquin Phoenix, portraying him as bullied man Arthur Fleck who after living on the outskirts of society snaps and begins to take revenge on those who have wronged him.

Despite receiving critical acclaim, social media monitoring FBI agents in the US have warned it could inspire screening attacks from incels – a term which refers to men who are "involuntarily celibate" and blame their situation on women – whilst the families of victims killed in the 2012 mass cinema shooting in Aurora, Colorado, which occurred during a screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' have written to 'Joker' studio Warner Bros. warning them the perceived sympathetic portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime could encourage copy-cat attacks.

Todd feels as though he has acted responsibility as a creative to show audiences what the real implications of violence are.

Speaking at the screening of the movie at the New York Film Festival on Wednesday (02.10.19), he said: "That's the surprising thing to me. I thought, isn't that a good thing, to put real-world implications on violence? Isn't it a good thing to take away the cartoon element about violence that we've become so immune to? I was a little surprised when it turns into that direction, that it's irresponsible. Because, to me, it's very responsible to make it feel real and make it have weight and implications."

Todd is also pleased that after all the talk about 'Joker' the movie is finally will finally be out in cinemas this week to be judged on its own merit.

He said: "There's been a lot said about this movie – a lot said by me, too. I've learned. I'm really excited that you're here and we can finally let the movie speak for itself."


  • 5 stars
  • 2019
  • US
  • 2h 2min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Todd Phillips
  • Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro
  • UK release: 4 October 2019

Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) is an unsuccessful clown who wants to be a comedian, but he gradually turns to evil. This dizzying origin story about Batman’s nemesis is like an ode to 1970s New York City; Phoenix is astonishing and Phillips’s grave vision never swerves. Unmissable.

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