Soldiers have been warned by the U.S. military about potential violence during Joker screenings. Directed by Todd Phillips, the next Warner Bros. and DC project officially gives the iconic comic villain his own origin story. Joaquin Phoenix plays the titular role, and the film takes fans back to the 1980s when the character was still simply known as Arthur Fleck - a failed comedian.
Phoenix is joined by a star-studded cast, including Robert De Niro, Marc Maron, Brett Cullen, Frances Conroy, and Zazie Beetz. It emerged victorious at the Venice Film Festival where it won the Golden Lion, and is bolstered by great reviews from critics. Sadly, the project is embroiled in a controversy regarding its use of violence (Warner Bros has already responded). As it nears its theatrical release, the issue continues to garner interest as it turns out that the U.S. military has warned its members of possible mass shootings at the movie's screenings.
Gizmodo is reporting that the U.S. Army confirmed that they indeed issued warning to soldiers after the FBI uncovered social media posts from extremists known as "incels" - an online group of self-professed "involuntary celibate" men. Apparently, those dubbed as incels “idolize the Joker character, the violent clown from the Batman series, admiring his depiction as a man who must pretend to be happy, but eventually fights back against bullies.” The memo marked "For Official Use Only" provided guidelines in case U.S. military members find themselves during a shooting.“Run if you can. If you’re stuck, hide (also known as ‘sheltering in place’), and stay quiet. If a shooter finds you, fight with whatever you can,” it said.
An army representative told the same outlet that they "do this routinely because the safety and security of our workforce is paramount." "We want our workforce to be prepared and diligent on personal safety both inside the workplace and out,” they added. Meanwhile, an FBI spokesperson said: “While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, the FBI is in touch with our law enforcement and private sector partners about the online posts. As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activity to law enforcement.”
Radical member Elliot Rodger is known for opening fire near the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2014, while James Holmes did the same in a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012, becoming a hero to the incel community. The latter incident led to The Century theater chain deciding to not screen Joker at that same venue, after family members of the shooting victims expressed concerns about the violence in the movie.
It's sad that what seemingly is a well-crafted movie is marred by these kinds of controversies. While it's too early to tell whether or not this advisory from the U.S. military will affect people checking out Joker in cinemas, a film shouldn't carry the burden of what seems like a more serious problem. There have been far more violent movies in the past and yet, they didn't have to be put in the spotlight the same way this film is currently.
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022