Perhaps more terrifying than outright, inexplicable evil is the sight of someone benign being twisted towards the path of villainy through their own violent experiences.
The first teaser trailer for Todd Phillips’ Joker, the origin movie starring Joaquin Phoenix as the titular character, capitalizes on this premise, showing the Batman villain living a fairly sad-sack life as a sign-spinning clown and a failed comedian writing jokes on a notepad in childish chicken-scratch. That is, until repeated instances of violence lead him to turn his working uniform into the iconic Joker persona. We get plenty of glimpses of Phoenix’s take on the character here, all of them promising. His Joker makeup is more classic clown that previous iterations, proving creepier than expected (and certainly more so than Leto’s look) because he looks a bit like every sinister puppet you averted your eyes from at a garage sale. Even his laugh, high and unhinged, sounds like it came out of a vintage clown toy.
We get a brief look at the film’s supporting cast here, too, including Frances Conroy of Six Feet Under fame as the Joker’s mother, Atlanta alums Zazie Beetz and Brian Tyree Henry, and Robert De Niro as the talk show host the Joker kidnaps (à la Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy). Marc Maron is also on the bill.
Watch the teaser trailer for Joker, out Oct. 4, below and, further down, check out the film’s poster.