The first trailer for DC's standalone Joker movie is here, and now we have some kind of idea of what to expect from this strange project. The aptly titled Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, and though we don't really know how the movie ties into the larger mythos of DC, we do know that the Todd Phillips-directed film is going to be a truly odd viewing experience.
Though the trailer tells us to put on a happy face, it actually achieves the opposite. It has me scrunching up my face at all of the madness, and there are a few twisted scenes within it that definitely stick out.
In case you haven't seen it, here's the trailer itself to start us off.
Yeah, the entire thing is really one big twisted scene, but that wouldn't be entirely fair. The juxtaposition of the unsettling images set to Jimmy Durante's version of "Smile" already has us on edge, and we are prepped for maximum squirmage.
Not all twisted scenes are created equal, however, so here are the top five that twisted me the most.
Right off the bat, we have Phoenix bathing his mother (the always welcome Frances Conroy) with Phoenix's voiceover saying, "My mother always told me to smile and put on a happy face." They're having what looks like a joyous bath time experience, and, well, good for them.
For us, however, we get vibes of Oedipus the King, Psycho, and everything in-between. Anyone who saw the last batch of episodes of Arrested Development know what damage being a "motherboy" can do. Buster Bluth pretty much is the Joker, and Phoenix looks like he's one step away from being Buster Bluth.
JOKER HOPPED THE A TRAIN
I don't know exactly what is happening here, but the man who will be Joker is clearly having a bad day. We saw him earlier carrying one of those spinning signs, and then we saw him get beaten with it. This could be towards the end of that day, and he's just had enough, to the point where he just sits on the subway and laughs about it.
For anyone familiar with riding any kind of subterranean mode of mass transit, sights like this aren't completely out of the ordinary — still, this one will haunt me, and will likely reoccur to me every time I step onto a subway train. Thanks, trailer!
RED NOSE DAY
Yeah, no thank you. The more the trailer (and the character) try to double down on making me smile, the more I want to double down on running as far away from everything as I possibly can.
Almost more frighteningly effective than an entire Pennywise costume, this simple red nose (and concealing wall) conjures up more twisted fright than a ten-ton box of candy makeup. Phoenix continues to look menacing, twisted, and ready to snap at any moment. The "carefree" look on his face only makes it worse.
THROUGH BARS AT LAST HE FORCED A SMILE
Want to get a kid to smile? Just tell him a joke, or fall over — something like that. Wait, the kid is on the other side of some metal bars? Why should that stop you? Wait, you want to what? No, don't just... um... yeah, okay, you're just sticking your fingers in that kid's mouth, aren't you?
Seriously, what is the matter with this guy... who knows where this is taking place or who this kid is (a young Bruce Wayne, maybe), but you don't just go around putting your fingers into the mouths of children. I don't care if it's in service of a smile or not. If a kid doesn't want to smile, they don't have to. If 9-1-1 doesn't get called immediately after this moment, I'd be surprised — then again, if I was this kid, and I just had Travis Bickle 2.0 stick his fingers in my mouth, I'd probably bury the memory so deep that even Robert Ballard would never find it.
ARE YA'LL READY TO SEE YOUR FIXER UPPER?
Close to the end of the trailer we finally get to see Phoenix transformed into... Dark Phoenix. He's wearing what we imagine his signature costume is going to be, and he's in full makeup. Consider his renovation complete! That's not what is so creepy here. If I saw this guy strutting down the hallway of my apartment building (complete with a bouquet of death and murdered dreams), I would run. I would jump out of the nearest window. The way Phoenix just saunters down the hall makes me truly worry for whoever he's about to go and visit. I don't think he's gonna give him a hard sell on Thin Mints, either.
The trailer is very centered on Phoenix, so we only get fleeting glimpses of Robert De Niro and the other cast members. As for the general story? Part of the brilliance of the Joker is that he doesn't have an origin, and if he does, it is constantly changing. The 1989 Batman changed this up, and Gotham is currently doing its own thing as well.
Joker certainly looks to be joining their ranks (instead of doing what The Dark Knight does, with Joker changing his origin story every six seconds), and could end up being the most twisted and psychologically scarring take that we've ever gotten on the origins of the most iconic comic book villain of all time.
I will not tell you to smile and put on a happy face. Instead, I suggest that you run away as fast and as far as you can. Save us, Batman.