Before Todd Phillips' Joker even hit cinemas, certain corners of the internet were up in arms about the so-called harmful influence the DC movie could potentially have on audience members.
Now, the director has admitted he was "baffled" by the controversy surrounding the film, insisting that it dealt with the portrayal of violence responsibly.
Asked by Empire magazine if he was expecting the film to prompt such a level of debate, he said: "I was not prepared, quite frankly.
"I was taken aback by people talking about the level of violence in the movie as if it was irresponsible, when to Joaquin [Phoenix] and me, it had felt like the most responsible portrayal of violence I'd seen in a long time in movies.
"When you put real-world consequence on violence, isn't that a responsible way of dealing with it? Isn't showing violence to be disgusting and horrible more effective and responsible than celebrating violence?
"And then it snowballed into other things about 'incel' culture – a term I had to actually look up on the internet."
Phillips went on to clarify a previous comment he made about the "far left so easily sounding like the far right when it suits their agenda".
"What I meant by that is this – we all get up in arms about climate change deniers, right? We all go, 'How can you deny this?' But to me it's the same thing. Do we want to pretend that we're not failing as a human experiment? Do we want to pretend that these people don't exist? What is the harm in shining a light on that? Isn't that a good thing?"
He added: "So I was surprised at that, becoming a tool to be used against the movie when it's like, isn't that what's great about being filmmakers – that we are able to explore these things in a safe environment? It's a movie, ultimately – and representation has never equalled endorsement, so it was baffling."
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