Warner Bros. has released the first trailer for the new standalone Joker movie, which will focus entirely on Batman's most infamous enemy before he became the Clown Prince of Crime.
Starring Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, the movie is said to be more of a character study about a down-on-his-luck comedian who is rejected by society, leading him on a path toward insanity. Throughout the trailer, we see that a series of events pushes him past his breaking point.
For years, we've known Joker as a psychotic madman who thrives on chaos. The Joker trailer paints a portrait of a man who is just trying to fit in. If the trailer's goal was to make him relatable, it succeeded—something we never thought we'd say.
To get a better idea of what's going on in the trailer, we've dug through to find all the secrets and Easter eggs.
Dealing with mental illness
From the beginning, the trailer makes it clear that Arthur is struggling with mental illness—but he's seeking help. He's seen talking to a therapist, who asks him if it helps to have someone to talk to. Arthur manages a smile, but underneath it's clear there is pain.
Many of the shots in the trailer show Arthur as lonely and forlorn, with his mother and a woman named Sophie Dumond his only friends. He's cast as an outsider and someone who is misunderstood.
"My mother always tells me to smile and put on a happy face," Arthur says in a voiceover. "She told me I had a purpose to bring laughter and joy to the world."
As Arthur is speaking, we get a look into his psyche through a notepad, where he has written down a few jokes. While many of the jokes are obscured by Arthur's hand, the one that stands out is less a joke and more a statement.
"The worst part about having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don't."
It's a statement that rings true today, as people still don't fully understand what it means to live with a mental illness. There's always the expectation to behave a certain way despite your condition.
A man pushed over the edge
On more than one occasion, Arthur is shown being attacked. Once when he's juggling a sign during a blowout sale at a store, and again while riding the subway—both times when he's in clown makeup, but not fully as his Joker personality.
He's roughed up a third time, this time when he's not wearing his clown makeup, when he's thrown out of what appears to be a celebration of Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times.
The heavy police presence, however, suggests that it may be some sort of political rally, underlined by the Joker signs being held up by the crowd.
This causes Arthur to wonder: "Is it just me or is it getting crazier out there?"
Even if "out there" in Gotham city has gotten crazier, Arthur seems genuinely happy when around his mom and Sophie, the latter of whom is said to be his love interest in the movie. This is just speculation on my part, but something is going to happen to one or both of them.
Arthur is being portrayed as someone who is on the cusp of boiling over. While there seems to be an accumulation of events happening in his life, there will likely be one significant event that pushes him over the edge and into a life of crime.
"I used to think that my life was a tragedy. But now I realize it's a comedy," Arthur says, as he makes what looks like his final transformation into the Joker, green hair and all.
Introducing a young Bruce Wayne
You can't have a Joker movie without Bruce Wayne. In the Joker film, we meet a much younger Bruce Wayne, long before he becomes the vigilante known as Batman.
While the trailer doesn't show much, we see Arthur briefly interact with Bruce at what looks like Wayne manor, as Arthur reaches out and puts a smile on Bruce's face. What is Arthur doing at Wayne manor, anyway?
We also get a brief glimpse at Thomas Wayne, Bruce Wayne's dad, who is a politician in Gotham.
"Gotham's lost its way," Thomas says on a telecast being watched by Arthur. "What kind of coward would do something that coldblooded? Someone who hides behind a mask."
The Wayne family, it seems, has always been a part of Arthur's life, even before he was the Clown Prince of Crime.
Starting a revolution
As Arthur descends into madness, his persona as Joker seems to become a hero for the disenfranchised across Gotham.
At the building where Arthur is thrown out, there are clown posters. Then, as Arthur is being chased through the subway, there appears to be a riot going on, with many people dressed as clowns and holding up signs.
As Arthur starts to embrace his persona as Joker, he becomes an unlikely leader for others who don't feel represented by the people who run Gotham.
There's a scene of Joker that shows him ready to appear on a talk show, which could give him a huge platform to spread his messages to his followers.
What lengths will Arthur go to as he assumes his new identity as Joker? We'll find out on October 4, 2019.
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