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‘Joker': Joaquin Phoenix’s Dark Clown Makes Sadistic Debut at CinemaCon

Warner Bros. unleashes never-before-seen footage of Todd Phillips’ dark origin story

Joaquin Phoenix is ready to follow in the footsteps of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger: Director Todd Phillips unveiled the first-ever teaser for “Joker” at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

The teaser shows a man named Arthur, played by Phoenix, in therapy, talking about how his mother told him to always put on a happy face. But life beats him down as he is constantly assaulted during his day job as a clown and his night job as a failed comedian. Eventually, the horrors of Gotham break him, as he transforms into the infamous Clown Prince of Crime, who accelerates Gotham City’s descent into nihilistic madness.

“I used to think my life was a tragedy,” Arthur mutters. “But now I realize… that it’s a comedy.”

Before the trailer was presented, Phillips said that a lot of the rumors and reports about what “Joker” is about were inaccurate — “but that’s to be expected when making a film about a character that has no definitive origin story.”

Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Shea Whigham, Frances Conroy, Marc Maron, Douglas Hodge and Brett Cullen co-star.

The Joker, who debuted in Batman issue No. 1 in 1940, is Batman’s most infamous adversary. Nicolson played him in Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman,” and Ledger played the role in 2008’s “The Dark Knight.” Jared Leto was the most recent actor to play him on the big screen, in 2016’s “Suicide Squad.”

Cesar Romero played the role in the 1960s “Batman” TV series (wearing caked-on makeup to cover up a mustache).

The CW’s “Gotham” beat Phoenix’s version of The Joker by a day. On Monday, April Fool’s Day, the Batman origin story offered fan their first look at a stringy-haired version of the seedy clown played by Cameron Monaghan.

DC and Warner Bros. are releasing “Joker” on Oct. 4. The teaser trailer will be publicly released on Wednesday.

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