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.
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…