This Is How Robert De Niro Actually Feels About The Joker Controversy
Robert De Niro has some things to say about the things other people are saying about his new movie.
We're talking of course of Todd Phillips' Joker, the controversial new film from Warner Brothers and DC in which De Niro appears in a major supporting role.
Over the course of his decades-long career in cinema, De Niro has played everything from hard-nosed gangsters and bullish boxers to overprotective fathers and emotionally damaged war vets. He even threw down against a certain moose and squirrel duo in a kid-friendly comedy.
This year, De Niro is charging right back into the "for your consideration" fray with the raw and gritty Joker. While the dark take on the Clown Prince of Crime seems primed to set the box office on fire, Joker has also found itself wrapped up in some surprising controversy.
The contention surrounds the rampant gun violence that plays a part in Joker's story, with violence and firearms tending to accompany the Joker character in whatever form he takes.
The perceived content of the movie has inspired some family members of the victims of the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, which tragically unfolded during a screening of Warner Bros. The Dark Knight Rises, to pen a heartfelt letter to the studio prior to Joker's release. They say they're concerned that Joker may inadvertently inspire copycat acts of violence.
The group further urged the studio to lobby for gun reform, cease their support of public figures who advocate for gun rights, and to consider throwing more support behind groups who help the victims of gun violence.
That letter has left Joker's director, cast, and studio in the hot seat as they've been promoting the movie ahead of its October 4th release. In the last week alone, Phillips, Phoenix, and Warner Bros. have all opened up with their own particular views regarding the matter.
And now, chatting to Variety during the red carpet event for another of his upcoming films, The Irishman, Robert De Niro finally offered his own take on the Joker controversy.
De Niro's words about the Joker controversy will hardly come as a surprise to folks who have followed his work in recent years. The actor's unflinching political perspectives and open criticisms of the American government, and especially President Donald Trump, have made him a target of politicians and other people who stand on the opposing side of those views.
Needless to say, it's probably a good thing that he wasn't quite so frank in response to the Joker controversy as he's been about other topics. De Niro wisely didn't use the moment to grandstand or stump for his own views, instead simply offering his own support of the Aurora families and their worries.
As for the current controversy, the Joker, despite always being shown as a homicidal maniac, seems to inspire a sort of idol worship mentality amongst his fans. The character's rock-star-like aura seemed to reach a new level with Heath Ledger's unforgettable turn as the clown in 2008's The Dark Knight.
While the connections between that film and the actions of the Aurora shooter remain tenuous, many still believe the Joker served as inspiration for the violent act. As such, some also believe this new take on the character may be dangerously provocative.
On the other hand, plenty of people see no reason to worry about Joker at all, seeing it as just another edgy comic book movie, so this may go down as a case of much ado about nothing. There doesn't appear to be any movement to stop Joker from being released, and the Aurora families haven't called for a boycott of the film. They simply argue that if Warner Bros. is going to profit off fictional gun violence, they would do well to treat the victims of real gun violence with consideration and support.
Warner Bros. remains steadfast that Joker in no way attempts to portray Joker as a heroic figure. Amidst the controversy, the studio is urging people to withhold judgement until they've actually seen the film, with a spokesperson recently offering, quote, "A lot has been said about Joker, and we just feel it's time for people to see the film."
As for De Niro, aside from the controversy, he's had nothing but positive things to say about his experiences on Joker.
With any luck, the energy surrounding Joker will remain similarly positive, and the film will arrive with little more than a heady dose of entertainment value, a dash of societal insight, and a stream of awards season success. But of course, we won't get a real sense of how Joker plays until the film hits theaters on October 4th. Here's hoping there are happy faces all around.
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