A Batman Film Was Pulled From A Film Festival

The People's Joker has been pulled from the Toronto International Film Festival by the filmmaker over rights issues.

By Mark McKee | Published

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Batman is arguably on top of the list of popular comic book characters that are a shoo-in for widespread media consumption. With characters such as Spider-Man and Superman not far behind, if a Batman movie is on the marquee, you can bet that fans will flock to watch it in droves. However, not all Batman properties are well received, and at the Toronto Film Festival one Batman property entitled The People’s Joker won’t be received at all, according to a report by Deadline

According to a statement from the filmmaker, Vera Drew, she has removed the film from the festival due to copyright issues with Warner Bros. and their DC intellectual property. The studio didn’t respond to the comment from the filmmaker, but they were likely protecting their Batman property, of which Joker, the main character of The People’s Joker, is a part of. A spokesperson from the production team said they have no further comments other than what is on the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) website. 

Vera Drew wrote, directed, and stars in The People’s Joker, about an aspiring clown who grapples with a caped crusader. The trans spin on the classic DC characters follows a Gotham City that has banned comedy for all except those that toe the party line. When Drew’s clown character sets up her own comedy show along with a bird-like slacker, it draws the ire of Batman and a fantastic set of rogues. 

the people's joker

Drew responded to a cease and desist order from Warner Bros. Discovery after the cancelation of all three showings at the film festival with a comment of her own of perseverance. She says she doesn’t respond well to bullying, calling Warner Bros. Discovery a faceless institution and revealing her more emboldened attempt to find buyers and distributors to put The People’s Joker in front of as many trans people as she can. Apparently, the film contains a title card claiming the movie is a parody and therefore protected under fair use laws. 

Drew says she believes in good faith that after consulting her lawyers, using these names and characters in an autobiographical context of her personal coming-out story is protected by Section 107 of the US Copyright Act of 1976. This policy allows fair use for purposes such as relevant criticism, social commentary, or education. The film’s title card continued to say that outside of the licensed stock from DC, all video and graphics featured in the movie are original creations by Vera Drew and a crew of over 100 different individual contractors. 

In a social media post from the director–while staying vague at the urging of her team in response to the future of the film– she promises anyone who has been wanting to see her movie that they will get to soon. She then continues to say that she needs her fans’ help to make it happen. Whether or not the movie ever sees the light of day at any film festival is still uncertain.