Military Warns Service Members That There Might Be Violence At ‘Joker’ Screenings

'If a shooter finds you, fight with whatever you can,' said the warning.

an empty movie theater
Derks24 / Pixabay

'If a shooter finds you, fight with whatever you can,' said the warning.

The military is warning its servicemen and -women to be prepared for potential violence at screenings of The Joker in a chilling email that tells readers to find at least two escape routes before even sitting down.

In a September 18 email that was obtained by Gizmodo, commanders warn that the upcoming movie may be the scene of “incel” violence. “Incel” is short for “involuntarily celibate” and refers to individuals who, out of misogyny and sexual frustration, may be inspired to commit acts of violence.

Run If You Can

In the email, commanders give service people advice on what to do if a mass shooting breaks out. First, the readers are warned to make sure they have at least two possible escape routes even before they choose their seats. Then, if a shooter does open fire, readers are warned to “shelter in place” — that is, hide and keep quiet. If confronted, readers are warned to “fight with whatever you can.”

Movie Theater Violence

There is, unfortunately, precedence for a movie theater, particularly at a superhero movie, being the scene of a mass shooting. Back in 2012, during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises (an entry in the Batman franchise), James Holmes opened fire, killing 12 people and injuring 70 others. Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. However, a jury found him guilty of 24 counts of first-degree murder, 140 counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of possessing illegal explosives, and a sentence enhancement of a crime of violence. He is currently serving life without parole.

CENTENNIAL, CO - UNSPECIFIED DATE: In this handout provided by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, accused movie theater shooter James Holmes poses for a booking photo on an unspecified date in Centennial, Colorado. According to police, Holmes killed 12 people and injured 58 others during a shooting rampage at an opening night screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" July 20, in Aurora, Colorado.
  Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images / Getty Images

As it turns out, Holmes is something of a hero in the “incel” community, according to Gizmodo, although whether or not his crime was born of misogyny and/or sexual frustration is in dispute.

Why The Joker?

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For a couple of reasons.

In a broad sense, The Joker is an entry in the Batman franchise, which has been the scene of a mass shooting before. Further, the plot of The Joker revolves around a villain who is driven to insanity and violence by bullies, sparking fears that a disturbed individual who is/was himself bullied may be inspired to commit violence.

In a specific sense, however, the FBI has received threats that individuals may be planning violence at screenings of the film. In one case, the FBI became aware of a threat written on the so-called “dark web” that violence was being planned at a Texas theater at a screening of the film.

The military says it is acting out of an abundance of caution.