Warner Bros. Addresses Joker Controversy With Gun Violence Statement

Is Joker a hero? Warner Bros. weighs in.

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Joker has earned some acclaim from critics and fans who saw it in early screenings and at recent film festivals, but there's also some controversy concerning the film's violence and its portrayal of the iconic Batman villain. Ahead of Joker's October 4 release date, Warner Bros. has released a statement addressing that controversy head-on.

"Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies," the studio wrote. "Our company has a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora, and in recent weeks, our parent company joined other business leaders to call on policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address this epidemic."

However, the statement also makes it clear that Warner Bros. stands by the film:

"At the same time, Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues. Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero."

Warner Bros.' statement arrived in the wake of an open letter written by the families of several victims of the 2012 Aurora shooting that took place during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. The letter expressed concern about the movie's treatment of the villain, according to Deadline. "We're calling on [Warner Bros. CEO and chairperson Ann Sarnoff] to use your massive platform and influence to join us in our fight to build safer communities with fewer guns," the letter said, additionally calling for WB to stop donating money to politicians who support the NRA, among other requests.

In GameSpot's own Joker review, we noted that "Joker humanizes a murderer in a way that may make the kinds of disenfranchised real-world mass killers we now see regularly salivate--or, in the worst possible scenario, provide them inspiration."

We also described Joker as a "populist antihero" who "inspires the downtrodden people of Gotham to rise up against Wall Street fat cats and the 'fascists' in City Hall." The studio may officially disagree with that reading, but it's one way to interpret the movie's events.

Joker director Todd Phillips has spoken candidly about the film already, claiming he was misquoted on at least one occasion, and discussing the possibility of a Joker sequel.

Joker will be sure to prove divisive once it hits theaters on October 4. In the meantime, tickets for the movie are now on sale.

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