Joker, the new movie starring Joaquin Phoenix about the origins of Batman's arch-nemesis, has received criticism from some shooting victims and critics for the movie's gun violence.
In response to these criticisms, Warner Bros. Pictures, the studio distributing the movie, and the movie's director, Todd Phillips, have said the movie is not an endorsement of gun violence, nor do they consider the Joker to be a hero.
Phillips told the press his movie doesn't excuse Joker's behavior, adding, "The movie makes statements about a lack of love, childhood trauma, lack of compassion in the world. I think people can handle that message."
However, after watching and reviewing the movie, Movieguide® doesn't quite buy what the studio and the movie's director are selling.
In the movie, a troubled man named Arthur, who was apparently abused as a child by his mother's boyfriend, works as a clown and moonlights as a mediocre standup comedian. Arthur gets beaten up by some teenage thugs one day but fights back one night against three rich white men on the subway who also try to beat him up. He ends up shooting them down in cold blood. Arthur actually chases down the third man to kill him, rather than letting him go.
The mysterious clown killer becomes a symbol of rebellion for leftist protesters who hate rich and powerful people, whom the protesters blame for their problems. Eventually, Arthur is pushed over the edge and goes on a violent rampage against the people who've done him wrong, including the rich and powerful.
While the movie doesn't exactly endorse the Joker's murderous solution to his problems, it does endorse the Joker's hatred of rich and powerful people that develops during the story and becomes a big reason for Joker's rampage of revenge. In fact, the movie depicts Batman's wealthy father, Thomas Wayne, as a rich jerk—like the three rich men on the subway—who looks down on both the poor and the average citizen in Gotham.
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