There’s been a lot of excitement and anticipation with the new and upcoming Joker solo film that will star Joaquin Phoenix. This Joker is set in a timeline before the caped crusader, Batman, was even born. Many theaters across the country will be showing the film once it comes out on October 4th. However, there is one theater that will not be showing the film at all and with good reason. Seven years ago the Cinemark theater in Aurora, Colorado experienced a deadly mass shooting during a midnight premiere of the Dark Knight Rises when a deranged man with orange hair who seemed to be a real-life Joker open fired on the innocent viewers inside.
Now the survivors of the tragic ordeal are coming forth to voice their concerns about the release of this new film. Family members who lost their loved ones that night wrote a letter to the Warner Bros. company about their fears and asked them to kindly donate money to gun victim charities. They hope that Warner Bros. will become a responsible corporation to speak out about gun violence and to help those who have suffered like their loved suffered that night. One of the victim’s mothers, Sandy Phillips, admitted that seeing any kind of poster or promo of the film reminds her of the real-life shooter that took her daughter’s life that night. This new Joker appears that it will be darker than the Heath Ledger Joker with its R rated violence.
Because of this Phillips is concerned that another deranged person will connect with this Joker’s mindset and violent behavior and will carry out a mass shooting much like that night. Phillips also explains that it doesn’t help that the number of mass shootings has risen since then. A person could see this film and think of the Colorado shooter and try their hand at gun violence. Phillips admits how this possibility scares her. The theater itself has made no statements but as of right now there or no listings for the film or even pre-show ticket orders. Also, according to a representative at Warner Bros., the letter sent by Phillips and her group hasn’t reached them yet. So until then, they have no comments on the matter.
It should be mentioned that the letter isn’t asking Warner Bros. to not release the film, it only asks them to not donate money to politicians who take money from the NRA. In an interview, Phoenix had to excuse himself after being asked if the film could inspire a mad man to commit gun violence. In a different interview with IGN Phoenix explains that a majority of people know right from wrong and that it’s not the job of a filmmaker to explain morality to the audience. Director Todd Phillips (no relation to the previously mentioned Phillips) talked about the film with IGN too. In that interview, Phillips explains that the film contains the messages of childhood trauma, lack of love, and lack of human compassion in the world and discusses that a great number of audience members can handle that.
Despite what Phoenix said, there are a lot of films out there that can teach right from wrong even if it wasn’t the filmmaker’s intention to do so. Hopefully, audience members will understand the messages of the film that a lack of love and compassion can drive a person to insanity and violence. Maybe after this film, more people could learn to be more understanding of those who feel isolated from society and will choose to help them in any way they can instead of pushing them further away.