Avengers director Joe Russo says Joker has helped break superhero stigma


Director Joe Russo believes Joker has elevated the superhero genre to a new plateau.

Joe Russo, one of the two directors behind Avengers: Endgame, is pleased with the success Joker has had. The former Marvel filmmaker told THR he only recently got the chance to watch it, but he enjoyed the movie, calling it a tragic, and relevant, story:

"“I loved it. I thought it was a beautiful piece of filmmaking. It was a very tragic, very modern story and really representative of existential isolation and the crisis a lot of people are feeling. The moment in it when he’s on the talk show, where it’s the idea of everyone in the world right now grabbing their megaphones and trying to shout each other down, and he’s reacting against that."

Joker, which Russo describes as “a dark movie and a disturbing movie with a very important message,” has 11 Oscar nominations, the most nods for any film this year. Joe, along with this brother, Anthony, is excited about the buzz it’s received and believes this success has broken new ground for superhero films:

"“We’re ecstatic that it’s being recognized. It broke through the stigma that seems to be against these films, certainly at the Academy.”"

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Todd Phillips’ first venture into the superhero genre has snagged its share of honors during this awards season. Joaquin Phoenix, the film’s star, has had particular success, having swept the lead actor categories at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice and SAG Awards. With this, he’s currently the favorite to win the Academy Award for Best Actor on Sunday.

While Joker‘s success is unprecedented, it isn’t the first superhero feature to receive recognition from the Academy within the last decade or so. Just last year, Marvel’s Black Panther received seven Academy Awards nominations, taking home three for Best Original Score, Best Costume Design and Best Production Design and becoming the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to win an Oscar. And in the same year, Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won Best Animated Feature.

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Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight also earned eight nominations back in 2009 and won two. One of these trophies was, of course, for Best Supporting Actor, which was posthumously awarded to Heath Ledger for his take on the Clown Prince of Crime.

Joker may not be the first comic book adaptation to get Oscar nods, but its success does serve as progress for a genre still attempting to get serious awards recognition.