Joaquin Phoenix is ready to follow in the footsteps of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger: Director Todd Phillips on Wednesday unveiled the first teaser trailer for this fall’s “Joker.”
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.”
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. Nicholson 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 fans their first look at a stringy-haired version of the seedy clown played by Cameron Monaghan.
Warner Bros.’ movie origin story is set to hit theaters on Oct. 4.
Watch the teaser trailer above.