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Final Joker Trailer Sets Up Arthur Fleck's Breakdown And Takeover

Pennywise may be returning in September, but the month of October will belong to another menacing clown.

The final trailer for Warner Bros.' Joker gives audiences an indelible taste of what the film has in store when it releases this Halloween season.

Todd Phillips, known for directing the Hangover trilogy and 2016's War Dogs, has teamed up with Joaquin Phoenix to provide a Joker that has never been seen before on the big screen — and that's saying something considering we've had three vastly different incarnations of the character over the last 30 years. The director has been offered to direct comic book movies on more than a few occasions, but declined because he thought they were "loud" and simply didn't interest him. According to PhillipsJoker was born from an idea he had to create a different, more grounded comic book film — but, based on this trailer, that doesn't mean the production team is going to be skipping out on all the bombast entirely.

In Joker, Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a man who deals with some obvious stability issues. The trailer makes sure to highlight that Fleck gleans real joy out of entertaining others (it opens with him making a young child laugh on a public train), but also that he rarely gets a chance to inspire happiness. Viewers get a glimpse into Fleck's desolate life, with his decrepit apartment and truly dead-end job as a streetwalking sign-holder. At one point in the trailer, Fleck even tells his social worker that "all [he has] are negative thoughts."

It's clear Fleck is heading towards a full-on breakdown, as well as that Phoenix delights in playing an off-kilter character. The intense actor lost over 50 pounds to play the role, and that's obvious when looking at his gaunt torso in the trailer.

The new Joker footage also give prospective audiences a better look at the supporting performances from Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, and Brett Cullen. De Niro stars as Murray Franklin, a late-night talk show host who plays a role in Fleck's downfall after publicly mocking him on television. (De Niro has gone on record to say that Joker pays homage to his character from 1983's The King of Comedy, a film all about a comedian who is obsessed with a talk-show host.) Beetz stars as Sophie Dumond, a single mother and Fleck's love interest (their romantic through-line is sure to end on a, uh, gleeful note), and Cullen will play Thomas Wayne, the father of future Batman, Bruce Wayne. Wayne clearly has some part to play in Fleck's transformation into the Joker, as he's shown in the trailer clocking Fleck in the face, and may be a major motivator in the Clown Prince of Crime's rise to power in Gotham. Sprinkled throughout the trailer are shots of city residents protesting Wayne's mayoral campaign — all while wearing clown masks. 

The R-rated picture is a departure from the superhero offerings DC and Warner Bros. have put up on the big screen in recent years. Fox proved that extremely serious, superhero films can work (Logan did rake in the money at the worldwide box office, after all), and with a minute budget of just over $50 million, Warner Bros. is hoping Joker can prove to be a lucrative project despite it being a character study of a comic book supervillain. Could a project about the traumatic childhood of Lex Luthor be in the offing? Maybe a film delving into the origins of Catwoman could be a — oh... wait... nevermind.

Joker will open in theaters on October 4.