Between It: Chapter 2 and Joker, Warner Bros. is single-handedly making moviegoing coulrophobics miserable this fall. The studio released a new trailer for the latter film on Wednesday, offering us another unsettling glimpse of Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck, a would-be entertainer whose inexorable descent into supervillainous madness is the focus of Todd Phillips’ much-anticipated (for better or worse) Joker origin story.
“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,” the new trailer’s description summarizes. “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.”
The trailer’s opening moments crystalize Joker’s central conflict: Arthur sits alone on a bus, entertaining a child whose mother snaps at him for “bothering” her son. Despite his seemingly well-intentioned efforts to make others laugh, Arthur is an outcast whom society rejects, which exacts an irreversible psychological toll on him. “All I have are negative thoughts,” warns a hollowed-out and haggard-looking Phoenix as Arthur. Publicly mocked by Robert De Niro’s TV host Murray Franklin, Arthur is driven to give up his comedy dreams and instead finds his purpose in anarchy, assuming the Joker mantle and stepping—literally, at trailer’s end—into the spotlight, notorious.
Philips (The Hangover, War Dogs) directs Joker from a script he co-wrote alongside Scott Silver (The Fighter). Starring alongside Phoenix and De Niro are Zazie Beetz (Atlanta), Frances Conroy (American Horror Story), Marc Maron (GLOW), Bill Camp (Molly’s Game), Glenn Fleshler (Billions), Shea Whigham (First Man), Brett Cullen (Narcos), Douglas Hodge (Red Sparrow) and Josh Pais (Motherless Brooklyn). The film is rated R (for “strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images”), a first for a live-action Batman movie.
Joker arrives on Oct. 4. Watch the new trailer below and revisit the film’s previous teaser here.