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‘Joker’ director Todd Phillips says he understands the criticism of comic book films

American filmmaker Todd Phillips, the director of Joker, has seconded director Martin Scorsese’s comment on the superhero films, saying he understood what he was trying to say.

Scorsese had recently taken a jibe at Marvel films, saying they were “not cinema” and called them “amusement park movies”. Phillips accepted the point that was being made at the director’s roundtable for The Hollywood Reporter

He said: “Marty got a lot of heat for (his comment), but I understand it fully. We were struggling to get Joker made, which sounds funny because it exists in the superhero world, but it’s really not one of those movies.”

He further added, “We spent a year at Warner Bros., and I saw emails back and forth, literally, where they said, ‘Does he realise we sell Joker pyjamas at Target?’ I go, ‘Didn’t movies come first and pyjamas come second? Are the pyjamas dictating the movies?’ Theme park rides. Pyjamas. Slurpee cups. Whatever it is that you are selling off the back of movies, you can’t make your decisions based on that.”

Joker told the story of a failed stand up comedian who turns into a criminal. The film was released worldwide on 4 October and met with critical acclaim with Joaquin Phoenix receiving praise for his performance. It is currently the highest grossing R-rated film worldwide. However, its depiction of mental illness and violence polarized some critics.

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