Joaquin Phoenix gives a dark new origin to Batman’s greatest foe in first Joker trailer

But did you spot mini Bruce Wayne?

Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker (Warner Bros)

After plenty of teases, the first trailer has arrived for Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix’s new take on classic comic-book baddie The Joker – and frankly, the whole thing is pretty bleak.

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Described as a “cautionary tale” and a “gritty character study,” the new film’s footage shows Phoenix’s beaten-down Arthur Fleck gradually crack under the strain of this miserable life, where he’s constantly belittled, bullied and struggles to care for his mother in a new version of the Joker’s origin story (though with similarities to Alan Moore’s classic The Killing Joke).

Of course, one day Arthur snaps, becoming a version of the clown-themed Batman villain we all know – and while there’s no sign of the Caped Crusader in any of the footage (he’s not expected to appear, though Dante Pereira-Olson is said to be playing his childhood self), the trailer does include one or two tie-ins to the wider DC universe.

Arkham State Hospital, for example, is an obvious reference to the Batman comics’ Arkham Asylum – the facility where most of Bruce Wayne’s rogues’ gallery end up – while fans will be sure to note the irony of Thomas Wayne (played by Brett Cullen) decrying the violence of someone “hiding behind a mask” given what his son will get up to in later years.

And then there’s the scene where the Joker appears to be forcing a smile onto the face of a young boy, none other than Bruce Wayne/Batman himself (Pereira-Olson), marking a notable first meeting for the future arch-foes.

Clearly, this will be a film ripe with meaning for Batfans everywhere…

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Joker is released in October