Joker trailer: Joaquin Phoenix challenges the memory of Heath Ledger with unhinged take on Batman villain
Warner Bros released the first trailer of the upcoming Joker film, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the popular Batman villain, a day after premiering it at the CinemaCon event in Las Vegas. “I used to think my life was a tragedy, but it’s a comedy,” says Arthur Fleck in the trailer.
As advertised, the film owes a great debt - visually and thematically - to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. Arthur is an outcast living in a ‘70s, New York City inspired Gotham, mocked by others, with only his mother for company.
There are several shots in the trailer that hint at an uncomfortably close relationship between Arthur and his mother, played in the film by Frances Conroy. It was previously reported that the role was offered to Frances McDormand. There are recurring shots of Arthur lying curled up on the floor, dancing on stairs, and others which highlight his grotesque physical appearance.
We see Arthur routinely getting harassed, beaten up, and left to fend for himself in a ‘changing’ Gotham. There are also quick nods to the Batman (maybe?) and Arkham Asylum. We also see glimpses of his descent into madness, with brief shots of Arthur applying green hair dye and smearing makeup on his face. The film doesn’t appear to be based on any previous comic book origin of the character, but instead seems like an amalgamation of several storylines.
Joker has been directed by an unusual choice for the material - The Hangover’s Todd Phillips. Phillips described the movie as a ‘tragedy’ at CinemaCon. “But that’s what happens when you set out to make an origin story about a character who doesn’t have an origin,” he said.
The film is slated for a prime awards season release date in October. The film also stars Scorsese favourite Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz. The Joker has previously been played in film by Oscar-winners Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Jared Leto.
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