Joker final trailer breakdown
Joker will hit UK cinemas on 4th October.
Todd Philip’s Joker, which imagines a new origin story for Batman’s most famous villain played by Joaquin Phoenix, is already earning rave reviews from critics.It's even been awarded the top Golden Lion prize at this year’s prestigious Venice Film festival.
Completely separate from the rather hit-and-miss DC Extended Universe, it seems to be taking direct inspiration from Martin Scorsese’s classic Taxi Driver than your standard superhero blockbuster
We unpick Joker’s final mesmerizing trailer to get an idea of what’s in store.
During Warner Bros’s presentation at this year’s Comic Con, Philips described his upcoming film as tragedy and these first few moments really give you a sense of that.
Greasy-haired, oddly dressed comedian Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) cuts a troubled figure. Despite his creepy appearance, it seems like he’s genuinely seeking out a connection and wants to make people laugh but the world keeps treading him down.
First he’s chastised by a woman on the bus for trying to make her young son laugh and then while working to promote a sale, randomly beaten up by a group of thugs. Lying in pain in the alley, surrounded by the fragments of his broken sign he’s the perfect image of a sad clown.
But there are hints at something more sinister.
We’re treated to that brilliantly sinister laugh for the first time as his rather unsympathetic looking psychiatrist tells him this is the last time they’ll be meeting.
“Are you having negative thoughts?” she asks, as we get a shot of him shirtless bathed in the eerie low light of his kitchen. Reminiscent of Christian Bale in The Machinist, he’s so skeletal that his ribs are visibly protruding.
“All I have are negative thoughts” he replies staring at her intently.
Next we cut to a dark hospital room. Arthur is sitting by the bedside of an seriously-ill looking older woman who could very well be his mother when his attention is caught by the TV.
Staring in happy disbelief up at it, we see late-night talk show host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro in a nod to his role in Scorsese’s King Of Comedy) mock one of his recent failed stand-up appearances.
While Philips’s film isn’t a direct adaptation of Alan Moore’s classic comic The Killing Joke it seems like it’ll explore its main theme of one bad day, the idea that its several horrible events one after another that push him over the edge into his Joker persona.
The sight of Arthur’s face slowly changing to an expression of simmering rage suggests that this may very well be one of these events.
Dark, seedy and covered in graffiti with litter everywhere, this 1980s version of Gotham again is almost identical to Travis Bickle’s New York in Taxi Driver.
There seems to be some kind of anti-capitalist, class struggle simmering with groups of angry protesters in the subway and outside Wayne Hall which soon bubble over into violence.
Bruce Wayne’s father Thomas Wayne is briefly shown both on TV and later punching Arthur in the face as he laughs maniacally at him.
Will Philips go the way of Tim Burton’s 1989 film which had Jack Nicholson’s Joker kills Batman’s parents? Or is the ultra-wealthy Wayne just a target for the people’s collective rage against the 1%?
Here is the first appearance of Sophie (Zazie Beetz) who seems to be an object of affection for Arthur. Whether her feelings toward him are real or in his head remains to be seen.
There are plenty of shots of Arthur post-Joker transformation in the later half of the trailer. The make-up didn’t look that good in some of the earlier promo material but even briefly seeing hints of Phoenix’s brilliantly unhinged performance completely makes it work.
Compared to his twitchy, awkward manner from before, he’s much more confident as the Joker. One fantastic looking shot sees him dancing dangerously uninhibited on some stairs, in the sunshine and out of the darkness he’s been in for so long.
Arthur is pictured running down the hall of what looks like a hospital. Based on previous trailers, this could very well be the infamous Arkham Asylum where his comic book counterpart spent a lot of time. It could just be a nod to the comics or maybe somewhere he goes to try and help himself?
The protests seen before turn into riots which spill out onto the streets of Gotham. Several people are seen wearing creepy clown masks which reflect the Joker’s make-up.
Joker is traditionally a lover of chaos, both in the comics and other films as evidenced by Heath Ledger’s “agent of chaos” line, so it’s very possible that he could be using these riots to his advantage. It would be an excellent way to instill fear into those who’d previously wronged him and society at large.
The trailer finishes with the Joker seemingly about to perform on Franklin’s show standing behind a brightly coloured pastel curtain which resembles a circus tent.
Even though nothing is shown, it still feels very sinister. Like it could very easily turn into a hostage situation or even a massacre.
Joker arrives in UK cinemas on 4th October.