(CNN) – “Joker” hits theaters this Friday despite a wave of criticism in the United States that it glorifies a murderer and could encourage imitation attacks across the country.
The film starring Joaquin Phoenix is about a marginalized clown who suffers a murderous frenzy and is narrated in a way that aims to evoke empathy for him, said Brian Lowry of CNN.
It is set in 1981 and tells the story of Arthur Fleck, a failed comedian who finds salvation by turning to murder in Gotham City. Even before its launch, Warner Bros. faced protests from the families of victims of mass shootings who feared this would lead to violence or provoke imitation attacks.RELATED
Concern for the film's premiere increased due to the massive 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, on the night of the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises," another Batman movie. That attack left 12 people dead and dozens injured in a midnight show.
Increased security throughout the country
In a joint bulletin, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security made a warning to law enforcement after discovering online messages calling for mass shootings in the film's screenings. The newsletter shared with the police this week said that while federal authorities did not have information that led to specific or credible threats against particular places, they had received notices of threats posted on social media since at least the month of May.
In response, major cities in the United States reinforced security for the movie's opening night. The Los Angeles Police Department said it would maintain a high presence in cinemas and urged moviegoers to stay tuned and report any unusual situation. Some cinemas even banned costumes at the premiere of "Joker."
"While there are no credible threats in the Los Angeles area, we encourage the public to know that the police department will be there with high visibility," police spokesman Jader Chaves told Lucy Kafanov of CNN.
Some viewers did not worry
Matthew Clarke attended the opening night this Thursday and said he was not worried about safety warnings.
“When I first heard about the controversy of mass shootings, it really didn't bother me. For me, it was just another stupid thing that was happening, ”he told Jason Kravarik of CNN.
"I remember that at least (a decade ago) the same thing happened when salió The Dark Knight’ came out. " It really didn't affect me and nothing will stop me from seeing the Joker. ”
Clarke defended the movie, saying it doesn't glorify the killers because it's fictional. “It's just a movie about a character that is going through a transformation. For me, I don't know how to express it in words, it just isn't a big deal, ”he said.
What Joaquin Phoenix thinks of the controversy
Joaquin Phoenix defended the film in the middle of the controversy.
His character interpretation is meant to provoke, he said. "I think it's really good … when movies bother us or challenge us or make us think differently," he added.
"Joker" was released by Warner Bros., which is a unit of WarnerMedia, just like CNN. In a statement, WarnerMedia said the film is not intended to "show this character as a hero."