Warner Bros.’ Joker, from director Todd Phillips, promises to be a deep character study of one of the greatest Batman villains. Starring Joaquin Phoenix as the titular Clown Prince of Crime, the standalone film will be something that is separate from whatever is going on in the DC Extended Universe, and that strategy may prove to be of benefit as it will allow the studio to release darker and more mature material that do not follow the conventional rules of a comic book movie.
Now we are getting another look at the film in the form of the final trailer. Check it out along with a poster below.
I have to admit that even though I am intrigued about Joker, I do have some concerns. Mostly for the portrayal of those with a mental illness, and how it might vilify those who have been diagnosed with one. In a recent interview with Italian magazine Il Vernerdi (via The Playlist), Phoenix revealed that he developed the Joker’s laugh by studying victims of PLC (Pathological Laughter or Crying).
“I saw videos showing people suffering from pathological laughter, a mental illness that makes mimicry uncontrollable,” Phoenix said. Whether it is an involuntary laugh or cry, it is uncontrollable and usually caused by no triggers. In both trailers, we see that Arthur has made frequent visits to a mental health facility to check on his well-being and to see if he presents a danger to the public. But it looks like Gotham City is on a huge economic downturn, forcing the social worker to discontinue these regularly scheduled meetings.
He says to her:
“You don’t listen, do you? You just ask the same questions every week: How’s your job? Are you having any negative thoughts? All I have are negative thoughts.”
The camera then shows the social worker with a distressed look on her face.
The film is cringe-worthy, sure. And Phillips’ take can provide a new look at the character’s origin, which has been largely ambiguous. No doubt, Phoenix will get recognized for such a powerful performance, one that is akin to that of Heath Ledger’s portrayal. Plus the Martin Scorsese-inspired setting of a 1980s crime-ridden Gotham is refreshing. Plus, this is just a trailer. We don’t have the full scope of how the Joker will be portrayed. Hopefully, there is a way that the film can separate the ideas that link mental illness to violence.
Here’s the official plot synopsis:
Director Todd Phillips “Joker” centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.
Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, and Frances Conroy also star.