‘Joker’ Backlash: Todd Philips and Joaquin Phoenix Finally Speak Up

What are your thoughts on Joker? For the past several months, this has been the hottest topic in the film industry. It was a divisive movie media outlets couldn’t stop talking about.

Critics, bloggers, and personalities have spoken up. But what about the guys behind the film? Well, it seems that the director and the main actor are done keeping quiet.

‘Joker’ Backlash: Todd Philips and Joaquin Phoenix Finally Speak Up

A Grand Yet Shaky History

Joker doesn’t need any more introduction. He’s Batman’s iconic foe. Likewise, he’s the most popular comic book supervillain in history.

His adaptation to television and film goes back decades. In the 1960s, we had the Batman series, which starred Cesar Romero as Joker. He was also in the first full-length movie adaptation of Batman.

But let’s fast forward to 2008. This was when acclaimed director Christopher Nolan released The Dark Knight. It was the second part of The Dark Knight Trilogy.

What made this movie so memorable was Heath Ledger’s legendary performance as Joker. It was his best movie role ever — but tragedy also struck.

A Grand Yet Shaky History

Months before The Dark Knight premiered in the US, Ledger passed away. He never realized the impact his Joker performance had on millions of Batman fans around the world.

Warner Bros. Pictures then released Suicide Squad in 2016. It featured Joker as well, but it was Jared Leto who took on the role. Needless to say, not a lot of people enjoyed his rendition.

The Golden Lion Award

After Suicide Squad, people wondered about Joker. Would Leto reprise the role or what? Todd Phillips had something else in mind. He wanted a new Joker.

Thus, The Hangover director wrote the Joker script with Scott Silver in 2017. They sought inspiration from the award-winning graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke.

But these guys also wanted to write a different origin story for Joker. And as for the actor, Phillips wanted none other than Joaquin Phoenix.

The Golden Lion Award

The 44-year-old Phoenix was picky about his roles. The fact that he agreed to do this meant that Phillips had made something special — and the world noticed.

At the 76th Venice International Film Festival, Joker won the Golden Lion. It led to more hype for the movie, but some were concerned.

A Viewer’s Responsibility

The media kept posting about the possible effects of Joker. What if it inspired someone to become a mass-murdering shooter? This was due to the 2012 mass shooting in a theater that played The Dark Knight Rises.

Phoenix noted that moviegoers are smart enough to distinguish art that portrays violence from one that encourages it. He had this to say: “I don’t think it’s the responsibility of a filmmaker to teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong.”

A Viewer’s Responsibility

And if someone were to find inspiration to commit violence, Phoenix says: “For most of us, you’re able to tell the difference between right and wrong. And those that aren’t are capable of interpreting anything in the way that they may want to.”

Likewise, the director had respect for the audience. He knew that the average moviegoer could think for themselves. Phillips said: “I think people can handle that message.” 

And now, Joker is already out in cinemas. There are no mass shootings or violent crimes happening due to it. At a time when the political climate is this intense, the media shouldn’t be the one desperately hoping for violence just for clicks and views.