Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is a tale mired in the tragedy of a man beaten down by the world, as revealed in the first teaser trailer for director Todd Phillips’ upcoming Warner Bros. DC movie based on one of the most iconic villains in comic book history.
“There’s been a lot of chatter about what this film is and what it isn’t and most of it is not accurate,” Philips told the audience of movie theater owners at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Tuesday. “But it’s expected when you set out to make an origin story about a beloved character who basically has no definitive origin,” he added.
The trailer, which will be released online on Wednesday, shows Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck as a dejected man stumbling through the streets of Gotham. “My mother always tells me to smile and put on a happy face — she told me I had a purpose to bring laughter and joy to the world,” he says over a montage of him trying to spread happiness while dressed as a clown promoting a store when a group of thugs steal his sign and beat him up. In between shots of him dancing with his ailing mother and with Zazie Beetz‘s Sophie Dumond in a diner, you see Arthur begin his slow spiral into one of Gotham’s most dangerous, psychotic criminals as he sits inside a comedy club where he emits a more deranged laugh, then starts to carry out crimes in a clown mask. “Gotham’s lost its way,” Arthur says as he emerges as the Joker, dancing in a red suit with his trademark clown makeup. “What kind of coward would do something that cold-blooded?” a cop asks, as another replies, “Someone who hides behind a mask.”
Here’s a sampling of how the CinemaCon crowd reacted to the first footage:
Earlier on Tuesday, the first poster for the film was unveiled. Joker hits theaters Oct. 4.