Can there be a Joker after The Dark Knight? That's the question that's been on fans' minds since news dropped that Joaquin Phoenix would be portraying the sinister figure in a new origin story from DC. And, judging from the first teaser trailer, the answer appears to be...yes.
The clip released today for Joker, which hits theaters on October 4, shows the demonic clown as a shy victim of bullying, long before his transformation into Gotham's most feared villain. We hear from Arthur, the Joker's real name, in the teaser's first scene. Asked by a medical professional if it helps to talk about his feelings, he doesn't answer — but judging by the rest of it, I'd say, no ma'am it does not.
Arthur tells us that his mother always told him that his purpose in life was to bring laughter and joy to the world which is why he is a clown and stand-up comedian, but, from the looks of these clips, that calling was deemed impossible due to the a number of men bullying the meek Arthur. And then, shades of the Joker we know, most famously portrayed by the late Heath Ledger (who won a posthumous Oscar for his portrayal of the character), and Jack Nicholson in the 1989 version opposite Michael Keaton's Batman. But, unlike those versions of the story, Joker doesn't have a raspy-voiced billionaire superhero waiting in the wings to swoop in and save Gotham. There's just Arthur, a stand-up comedian turned Joker, and it's dark and twisted as hell.
The film also stars Zazie Beetz, Brian Tyree Henry, Robert de Niro, and Marc Maron. Check out the teaser trailer below. (A fun game is to imagine Leonardo DiCaprio in the role, as he was initially rumored to take on the Joker with Martin Scorsese.)