Why ‘Joker’ Is Having Last Laugh in the Face of Concerns About Violence

“People will be trying to figure out what the cultural importance of that film is for years, maybe longer,” Darnell Hunt, UCLA dean of social sciences, tells TheWrap

Director Todd Phillips’ gritty art-house rumination on arguably the most iconic villain in comics history pirouetted its way into theaters last October and into a debate about the film’s violence and themes.

“Joker” was a polarizing film from the moment critics, journalists and the film community saw it during the Venice International Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation and the top award, the Golden Lion. But the praise was met with scathing criticism as concerns were raised about the possibility the film could stoke real-world violence. That was months before the rest of the world would get a chance to gauge for itself and, by then, authorities in some cities around the country had stepped up police patrols around theaters.

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Trey Williams

Trey Williams

Film Reporter covering the biz • trey.williams@thewrap.com • Twitter: @trey3williams