The unsettling trailer drops serious hints about how Batman’s nemesis came to be.
Now here’s some film news that’s all set to put a smile on your face, whether you like it or not. Last night, the first full-length trailer for Joker arrived, providing a long-awaited origin story for the Clown Prince of Crime. Joaquin Phoenix steps into the shoes of Arthur Fleck, a failing stand-up comedian who’s inching towards the new career of criminal mastermind – and here’s your first look:
We’ve come a long way from the campy crusades of Jack Nicholson’s Joker, that’s for sure. Set to a suddenly haunting rendition of ‘Smile’, the trailer sees Arthur being attacked by youths, visiting Arkham Asylum, and writing a series of increasing dark jokes. Transforming from your friendly street clown to something altogether more twisted, the 80s-set film looks set to touch on themes of mental illness, Fleck’s relationship with his mother, and the damage society can do to fragile individuals.
Director Todd Phillips is clearly aiming for a dark, psychological thriller, rather than delving deep into the canon for a gruesomely wacky origin story (he’s made no secret of taking inspiration from Martin Scorcese’s The King of Comedy). The fact that it’s a standalone film, rather than an invitation to a DC franchise, has helped assuaged doubters, many of whom still hold up Heath Ledger’s Joker performance in The Dark Knight as the gold standard.
Joining Phoenix in the cast are Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Shea Wigham, Frances Conroy, Marc Maron, and Brian Tyree Henry. It’s due to hit UK cinemas on October 4th, and in the meantime we’ll leave you with the weirdly uplifting thoughts of Arthur Fleck: “I used to think my life was a tragedy, but now I realise: it’s a comedy.”
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Also published on Medium.