Warner Bros. ‘Joker’ Sparks Wild Controversy

by Alex Cohan ’20

 Warner Bros. released its newest DC Comics spin off movie “Joker” in theaters on October 4. In the movie, Arthur Fleck, a children’s clown during the day and a failed comedian by night, gets isolated and bullied by society as he tries to find his place in Gotham City. Fleck’s downward spiral into madness keeps the audience on edge as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker. The movie broke box office records becoming the highest-grossing opening in the history of October, bringing in $96 million dollars in North America. 

The hype before the movie was no laughing matter. The last movie that premiered in theaters related to the classic Batman-Joker conflict was “The Dark Knight Rises” in 2012. In a screening in Aurora, Colorado, a mass shooting occurred by a murderer dressed up as the Joker. Twelve people were killed and seventy were injured. Therefore, this time around, movie theaters heavily increased security. Adding to the hysteria, some critics and authorities have deemed the R-rated film too violent. Time magazine’s Stephanie Zacharek wrote,“The film is also deeply disturbing and, I fear, could incite real-world problems. Gun violence, mental illness and random senseless killings don’t play like they used to at the movies.”

However, others disagree and take the movie as it is, a piece of entertainment.  Marc Macron, the actor that played the assistant for Robert De Niro’s character, weighed in on the issue. “I know there’s a swirl of questions, some sort of cultural psychic whirlwind around the timing of the movie, the nature of the movie, whether this is the right time for a movie about a guy who’s mentally troubled and snaps,” Macron tells IndieWire. “ [But] I don’t think that movies are to blame for mentally unstable people taking action in a criminal, violent way.”

As a male teenager who theoretically would be affected by this movie the most, I personally enjoyed the movie and did not find the amount of violence to be egregious. The actor Joaquin Felix, who plays the Joker, beautifully illustrates the quirky personality of Arthur Fleck and his struggle with societal hardships, family complications, and mental illness. The movie is fascinating, suspenseful, and believe it or not, humorous. My viewing experience definitely justified the cost of admission. As a fan of DC movies and having seen all the prerequisite Batman/Joker-related movies before this one, my knowledge of how the Joker fits into those other movies has been greatly expanded and it makes me want to rewatch those ones again. 

There remains an abundance of controversy around “Joker”. The only way to see where you stand is to watch the movie yourself. Go out and watch the movie in Rockville Regal or AMC Rio Cinemas today.

Grade: B+