(LOS ANGELES) -- An earlier teaser already hinted that director Todd Phillips was taking his Joker standalone movie seriously -- and now a brand new trailer for the film shows it might do for comic book villains what the Oscar-nominated Logan did for heroes.
In an origin story that deviates from the Batman comics, Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a part-time street performer and wannabe stand-up comic. It's clear that Arthur tries to use humor to cover his pain, but it's a mask that's poorly worn.
"You always ask the same questions," he tells the therapist who's about to ditch him as a client. "'Are you having any negative thoughts?' All I have are negative thoughts."
The new teaser also shows us Robert De Niro as Murray Franklin, a late night talk show host seemingly modeled after Johnny Carson.
After Fleck bombs on Franklin's show, he leans into his madness and takes other with him. We see apparent followers, wearing clown masks and causing mayhem on a subway station; one person is shown holding a hand-drawn sign reading "WE ARE ALL CLOWNS."
"In my whole life, I didn't know I even existed," Phoenix's character tells an apparent love interest played by Zazie Beets. "But I do. And people are starting to notice."
The footage ends with Fleck in a second performance on Murray's show, but this time, he's different: He's preening and confident, wearing a garish purple suit and full clown makeup.
"One more thing," he requests of Murray. "When you bring me out, can you introduce me as Joker?"
The trailer ends with the curtain about to part, and Frank Sinatra singing, "Send in the clowns."
The movie opens October 4.
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