Joker: First Trailer and Poster For Joaquin Phoenix’s Take on the Clown Prince of Crime

“I used to think my life is a tragedy, but it’s a comedy.”

Warner Bros. has released the first teaser trailer and poster for the upcoming Joker film. Todd Phillips brings the Clown Prince of Crime back to screens this October, with Joaquin Phoenix as the titular character but playing a slightly different take on the iconic DC character.

Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a man disregarded by society in this gritty character study that is also being touted as a broader cautionary tale. Joker may center around the iconic arch-nemesis of Batman but this is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen.

Check out the teaser trailer for Joker below:

This is looking very, very, very dark. With the optimistic lyrics of Jimmy Durante singing “Smile” undercutting scenes of what looks like a decaying Gotham, this is a lot grimier than you’re typical comic book movie. The low-key setting, as well as the feeling that this is not going to be a movie riddled with action set pieces, makes this feel like a more intimate affair. We’re getting a Joker that is beaten down, kicked to the curb, literally assaulted by muggers on a subway before breaking from reality. Just from this short look, Phillips is looking to take this tale of the Joker and turn it into a straight-up tragedy in the vein of Scorsese-esque tale. However, this is still a DC movie about the Joker so, of course, we get a reference to the larger world of Batman. A look at Arkham State Hospital as well as a quick reference to “putting on a mask” all seem like larger allusions to the Caped Crusader (even though they are most definitely talking about Fleck and his broader influence). This is going to be one interesting entry in the world of mainstream comic book movies.

We’re still a long way from October but this teaser, much like the poster, indicates a film aimed less at traditional comic book audiences and more towards people looking for something off-kilter, dramatic, and perhaps a little more austere. In fact, one cast member revealed just what kind of movie Phillips, Phoenix, and co. have been striving for. Marc Maron, who plays Ted Marco in the film, said in an interview with NME that it’s not really a conventional comic book movie. “The approach that Todd Phillips has taken is more of an origin story and a character study of a mentally ill person that becomes The Joker,” says Maron. Adding “It’s more of an intimate and gritty movie with a very specific scope. It’s going to be really interesting to see how it comes out.”


Co-written by Phillips and Scott Silver (The Fighter), and based on characters from DC, Joker also stars Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy, Zazie Beetz (Atlanta, Deadpool 2), Marc Maron (GLOW), and Brett Cullen as Thomas Wayne, along with Bill Camp (Red Sparrow), Shea Whigham (Kong: Skull Island), Glenn Fleshler (True Detective), Josh Pais (Ray Donovan), Dante Pereira-Olson (You Were Never Really Here) and Douglas Hodge (Penny Dreadful).

Speaking of De Niro, the film is said to draw direct inspiration from such Scorsese’s films as Taxi Driver, Mean Streats, and The King of Comedy. That last film, 1982’s The King of Comedy, should be a note to fans wanting the most out of this new Joker film. The King of Comedy focuses on themes including celebrity worship and American media culture as it follows Rupert Pupkin (played by De Niro), an aspiring, mentally-deranged stand-up comedian unsuccessfully trying to launch his career. Both films center upon would-be comedians who descend into madness. And if you happened to have caught this detail already, notice the visual cues such as the suit that Phoenix is seen wearing in the poster, as well as a particular red suit he’s been photographed wearing on set, all of which seem to be direct homages to De Niro’s Pupkin from The King of Comedy.

You can check out the Joker poster, and the Pupkin comparison, below:

Joker Poster

King of Comedy
Robert De Niro as Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy. 20th Century Fox

Joker will arrive on October 4, 2019.

Source: WB, DC, 20th Century Fox

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