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Todd Phillips Calls Out ‘Joker’ Violence Being Held to Different Standard Than ‘John Wick’

Phillips believes "Joker" is getting unfair attention compared to other extremely violent Hollywood tentpoles.

"Joker" and "John Wick"

“Joker” and “John Wick”

Warner Bros./Lionsgate

The conversation around the potential for “Joker” to incite violence has hit a fever pitch in the week ahead of the movie’s October theatrical release. Warner Bros. is firmly standing by the comic book movie, issuing a statement earlier this week in which the studio states the film “does not endorse real-world violence. Now director Todd Phillips is calling out the criticism for putting intense speculation on “Joker” but not on countless other violent Hollywood movies. Speaking to the Associated Press, Phillips cited the “John Wick” franchise as an example of films that feature relentless, non-stop violence but never receive the same attention about inciting violence that “Joker” is getting.

“The movie still takes place in a fictional world. It can have real-world implications, opinions, but it’s a fictional character in a fictional world that’s been around for 80 years,” Phillips told the AP. “The one that bugs me more is the toxic white male thing when you go, ‘Oh, I just saw “John Wick 3.”‘ He’s a white male who kills 300 people and everybody’s laughing and hooting and hollering. Why does this movie get held to different standards? It honestly doesn’t make sense to me.”

Phillips also commented on the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting that left twelve people dead during a screening of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.” Family members of some of the victims recently sent a letter to Warner Bros. expressing fears over the “Joker” release, but Phillips argues there is a separation between movies and real-world acts, especially in the case of Aurora.

“I think that Aurora is obviously a horrible, horrible situation but even that is not something you blame on the movie,” Phillips said. “Quite frankly, if you do your own research about Aurora, that gentleman wasn’t even going in as The Joker. That was misreported. His hair was dyed red and he was having, obviously, a mental breakdown. There’s something horrifying about that but it wasn’t related to it outside of the fact that it happened at a movie theater. This is not the thing that the movie is trying to represent.”

“Joker” opens in theaters nationwide October 4 from Warner Bros.

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