A man dressed as Joker stabbed passengers on a train. This is what experts were worried about

Emergency workers and police officers on the scene at a train station in Tokyo.
Emergency workers and police officers on the scene at a train station in Tokyo on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, after a man brandishing a knife on a commuter train stabbed several passengers before starting a fire, which sent people scrambling to escape and jumping from windows, police and witness said. | Kyodo News via Associated Press

A man dressed as the “Batman” character Joker stabbed passengers and started a fire on a Tokyo train. Here’s why

A man dressed as Batman character Joker on Sunday stabbed several passengers and started a fire on a Tokyo commuter train, sending throngs of people scrambling and shouting in the wake.

The Tokyo Fire Department told The Associated Press that there were no deaths in the attack.

  • Seventeen people were injured.
  • Three people suffered serious injuries.
  • Not all victims were stabbed.

The attacker, who was 24, was arrested on sight and was immediately taken into custody, according to The Associated Press. Authorities are investigating him on attempted murder charges. No motive was immediately known.

Per Nippon Television, the attacker told police he wanted to kill people on the train and receive the death penalty.

Witnesses said the suspect was wearing a bright outfit — green shirt, blue suit and purple coat — that resembled the Batman villain, the Joker. The attacker might have resembled someone attending a Halloween party, too, according to The Associated Press.

Experts have been worried about Joker-themed attacks for about two years now because of the 2019 film, “Joker.” The film was released in the wake of national tragedies, like shootings in Gilroy, California, El Paso and Odessa, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which worried experts about potential new attacks tied to the film.

In fact, U.S. military warned of possible attacks at theaters in the United States after “Joker” showings. No major attacks happened. But the fear was there.

The film focused on mental health, abuse and emotional trauma. Most “Joker” stories center around these themes. And the new Joker character himself is also bathed in violence, soaking in the darkness of the world. He commits violence as an act of chaos. And that’s what scared experts most. His character has a cult following for violence and being against the established order, making him a prime catalyst for potential acts of violence.

“Once you start getting into the head of, you know, the sociopath, the anti-social person, the revolutionary, that’s when we suddenly think that this image of violence can be inspiring to the wrong kind of people,” Kendall Phillips, a pop culture professor at Syracuse University, said at the time.