'Run If You Can': US Army Issue Warning Over Possible Shootings At 'Joker' Screenings

The US military sent out a warning to service members regarding the upcoming Joaquin Phoenix film 'Joker'.

In an email sent out earlier this month, officials reminded service members to 'identify two escape routes' when entering cinemas and to 'remain aware of surroundings' in the event of a shooting at screenings of the film.

"Run if you can," the email read," If you're stuck, hide (also referred to as 'sheltering in place'), and stay quiet. If a shooter finds you, fight with whatever you can."

The email was apparently in response to posts on social media from incel groups that had been flagged by the FBI. While the email was confirmed to be widely distributed, the Army also said it was "purely precautionary" and was not aware of any specific plots.

US Army Issue Warning Over Possible Shootings At 'Joker' Screenings
Joaquin Phoenix stars as Arthur Fleck in 'Joker'. Photo: Warner Bros.

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"Incels are individuals who express frustration from perceived disadvantages to starting intimate relationships," the email continued, specifically referencing James Holmes who, in 2012, opened fire in a midnight screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' in Aurora, Colorado killing 12 and injuring 70.

"They also idolize the Joker character, the violent clown from the Batman series, admiring his depiction as a man who must pretend to be happy, but eventually fights back against his bullies."

Warner Bros. reportedly came to an agreement with Cinemark to not release the upcoming 'Joker' film in the cinema where Holmes carried out the shooting after families of Aurora victims signed an open letter asking the studio to make a stand on gun violence.

"We’re calling on you to use your massive platform and influence to join us in our fight to build safer communities with fewer guns," the letter read.

"When we learned that Warner Bros was releasing a movie called 'Joker' that presents the character as a protagonist with a sympathetic origin story, it gave us pause," it continued.

US Army Issue Warning Over Possible Shootings At 'Joker' Screenings
US Army sends out warnings around the 'Joker' movie to service members reminding them to "run, hide, fight" in the event of a shooting. Photo: Warner Bros.

The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a failed comedian who is pushed to the brink by society, ultimately turning him into a deranged criminal mastermind called the Joker. While it is loosely based on Batman's longstanding arch-nemesis, the film itself is supposed to be completely detached from its comic book origins and has instead been billed as 'a gritty character study' and a 'broader cautionary tale'.

The film has already provoked a range of reactions -- receiving an eight-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival and Oscar buzz for Phoenix.

Warner Bros brushed aside concerns that the film would paint Fleck as a sympathetic character or hero, responding to the Aurora open letter stating, "Neither the fictional character, Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind.

US Army Issue Warning Over Possible Shootings At 'Joker' Screenings
When questioned about the film's consequences, Phoenix walked out of an interview. Photo: Warner Bros.

"It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero."

The studio went on to claim they felt "one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues" and hoped 'Joker' would provoke such conversations.

Those conversations appear to be more difficult to have than Warner Bros. may believe. In a recent interview with The Telegraph, the film's star was asked if he thought the film would "end up inspiring exactly the kind of people it's about with potentially tragic results".

Rather than answering, Phoenix walked out of the interview.

'Joker' opens in Australian cinemas from October 3.

Featured image: Warner Bros.