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James Gunn Petitioned By Vera Drew To Release The People's Joker From Legal Captivity

Vera Drew, creator and star of "The People's Joker," is petitioning James Gunn to allow her parody of DC's "Joker" to screen without legal ramifications. 

In September 2022, Drew posted on Twitter, stating that "a media conglomerate that shall remain nameless" sent her a letter in regards to her parody work screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. While she chose to screen "The People's Joker" anyway, the screenings were drastically scaled back so as to a way of limiting any potential legal pushback.

Since then, Gunn and Peter Safran have taken over DC Studios, with the former co-CEO being notably vocal on Twitter about a number of behind-the-scenes changes (they've got a DC Universe Bible and everything). In April 2023, Drew posted on Twitter again, this time imploring Gunn to get DC to back off. She said, "Today would be a great day for James Gunn to simply say, '"The People's Joker" falls entirely under the definition of a parody and I see simply no reason why it could be exhibited to the public and distributed.' I checked with my attorney, [and] liking this tweet could also suffice." At the time of this writing, Gunn has not responded to the tweet in any public capacity.

A legal parody, packed with LGBTQIA+ themes

Despite Vera Drew's confident insistence that her film firmly falls within the acceptable boundaries of fair use and copyright law, she also acknowledges that some of her publicity decisions warranted a critical eye from DC. During a 2022 interview with Collider, Drew said, "I mean, I get it, look, I put an 'illegal comic book movie' on the poster, but that was just to get your butts in the seats."

Even if everything that Drew claims is true, it seems unlikely that DC will permit "The People's Joker" to see the light of day. Not without a brutal fight, at least. Upcoming "Joker: Folie à Deux" aside, Drew's parody is a queer coming-of-age story that depicts the Joker as a transgender woman. 

As of this writing, the trans community is under extreme duress from abhorrent political ideologies that would see them wholly erased. Given that James Gunn has been careful to avoid taking political stances publicly one could expect that there's almost zero chance Gunn plans to make a decision that could be perceived as something adjacent to a political stance. And permitting "The People's Joker" to screen would likely be perceived as a political stance.