Police in L.A. and NYC are deploying extra officers to theaters showing Joker this opening weekend, and several theater chains are now banning costumes at screenings.
Last week, five families in Aurora, Colorado wrote an open letter to Warner Bros. expressing concern over the film, which stars Joaquin Phoenix as the villain. The Joker's origin story is explored in a violence-laced tale which they believe may inspire others to do harm.
The film has been loosely linked to a mass shooting in Aurora where a gunman killed 12 people and injured 70 during a midnight show of The Dark Knight Rises.
JOAQUIN PHOENIX SPEAKS OUT
Meanwhile, amid the mixed headlines Joker has received before it even bows, Phoenix told Vanity Fair that the gun violence pushback isn't necessarily a bad thing.
"I didn't imagine that it would be smooth sailing," Phoenix told the magazine. "It's a difficult film. In some ways, it's good that people are having a strong reaction to it."
"It's like, because that's what we have to do," he told VF. "It's so easy for us to — we want the simple answers, we want to vilify people. It allows us to feel good if we can identify that as evil. ‘Well, I'm not racist 'cause I don't have a Confederate flag or go with this protest.' It allows us to feel that way, but that's not healthy because we're not really examining our inherent racism that most white people have, certainly. Or whatever it may be."
He continued, "Whatever issues you may have. It's too easy for us and I felt like, yeah, we should explore this villain. This malevolent person. There's no real communication, and to me that's the value of this. I think that we are capable as an audience to see both of those things simultaneously and experience them and value them."
Joker opens wide Oct. 4.