After a lot of controversy and mixed reviews from critics, the Joaquin Phoenix-led movie Joker finally opened in theaters on Friday. With a $93.5 million dollar opening weekend, the film did pretty well, despite the fact that half the country was seemingly avoiding seeing it for fear that it would incite violence. There was at least one movie theater evacuation, but thankfully no actual shootings.
Meanwhile, amid all of this, two very big names in pop culture — Josh Brolin and Mark Hamill — have both thrown their unwavering support behind the movie. Here’s what Thanos (or Cable) and Luke Skywalker (or the ’90s Joker!) had to say about the Todd Phillips-directed super villain movie everyone either loves or totally fucking hates.
Josh Brolin, the man you know as Thanos, had a lot to say in support of Joker in a lengthy Instagram post. You can read the full thing here, but the big takeaway is he thinks the movie is about deep feelings and that those feelings matter.
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To appreciate “Joker” I believe you have to have either gone through something traumatic in your lifetime (and I believe most of us have) or understand somewhere in your psyche what true compassion is (which usually comes from having gone through something traumatic, unfortunately). An example of dangerous compassion would be to, say, make a film made about the fragility of the human psyche, and make it so raw, so brutal, so balletic that by the time you leave the theatre you not only don’t want to hurt anything but you desperately want an answer and a solution to the violence and mental health issues that have spun out of control around us. This film makes you hurt and only in pain do we ever want to change. It’s all in the irony of trauma — a fine line between the resentment of wanting to hurt society back for raping you of a decent life, for not protecting you, and accepting what feels like alien feelings with softening to those others who seem freakish in our era of judgment, and digital damnation. Like kids in Middle School: man, they can just be mean. For no reason. And, sometimes, those awful little clicky kids breed an evil in someone that rages much later, when everyone pretends we are all back to normal, when we all thought it had just manned up and gone away. We have a habit of hating and ostracizing and dividing and sweeping our problems under the rug. Joker, is simply lifting the rug and looking underneath it. Nothing more. Nothing less. It’s there.
And then there’s Mark Hamill. Most famous for playing Luke Skywalker, if you’re a ’90s kid, you also remember that Mark Hamill was the voice of the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series and later, Batman Beyond. The fact that Hamill gives the movie two thumbs up makes sense: He loves the character. But because Hamill is such a chill guy, maybe this should give everyone pause. Maybe this is just a movie?
The #JokerMovie opens today. The awesome Joaquin Phoenix, Todd Phillips & Scott Silver brilliantly reimagine the character as never seen before! 2 thumbs up from that old-school, comic book version… me. 👍👍🃏 pic.twitter.com/Ex4is4OvPC
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) October 4, 2019
Finally, speaking to Vanity Fair, the movie’s star, Joaquin Phoenix put it like this:
“It’s a difficult film. In some ways, it’s good that people are having a strong reaction to it. I was going through [the script] and I realized, I said, ‘Well, why would we make something, like, where you sympathize or empathize with this villain?’ It’s like because that’s what we have to do.”
Joker is out in theaters now.