Todd Phillips Shuts Down 'Joker' Backlash: "Everybody Wants to Talk About the Spark, Not the Powder"

Martin Scorsese, Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig, Fernando Meirelles and Lulu Wang also joined for the annual Director Roundtable.

"We were struggling to get Joker made," Todd Phillips told the Director Roundtable, "which sounds funny, because it exists in the superhero world, but it's really not one of those movies. Joker "was greatly inspired by the works of Martin Scorsese and Sidney Lumet, and other filmmakers that I grew up worshiping in the '70s and early '80s," Phillips continued.

The film, which stars Joaquin Phoenix, faced criticism over its violent content. Phillips told the roundtable, "I just didn't subscribe to that, quite frankly, bullshit thing that was happening in the media where they just pick a movie every so often and declare it means something that it doesn't."

"We made a movie about childhood trauma and loss of compassion and lack of love in a person's life and what that might do, but everybody always wants to talk about the spark and not the powder. The film's really about the powder, what makes that happen." Todd Phillips has one career Oscar nomination for writing the screenplay for Borat. He recently earned his first Golden Globe nomination for directing Joker. The film is also nominated for best motion picture drama, best actor in a motion picture drama (Phoenix) and best original score.

Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Fernando Meirelles (The Two Popes), Lulu Wang (The Farewell) and Todd Phillips (Joker) joined for the annual Director Roundtable. The full roundtable is set to air Jan. 5 on SundanceTV, Follow all the Oscar-season roundtables at THR.com/Roundtables.