The final Joker trailer promises a gritty character study of Batman’s archnemesis

The final trailer for Todd Phillips’ Joker has arrived, and it reveals the gritty, dark take on the iconic Batman villain.

The Warner Bros. description of Joker says, “Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. 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. 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.”

Arthur isn’t the only one putting on a clown mask, though. The trailer also shows a Gotham City full of rioting clowns, possibly as a thematic stand-in for something like the disaffected-with-society Anonymous movement in the real world.

It’s heavy stuff, and it promises a far more serious take on the Joker’s traditional comics supervillainy than the already fairly grounded approach seen in 2008’s The Dark Knight.

The trailer also gives us a look at Bruce Wayne’s father, Thomas (Brett Cullen). In most Batman stories, the death of Thomas and his wife Martha is the defining incident that leads Bruce to take up the cowl and fight crime as a masked vigilante. Thomas is very much alive here, though, which means Joker likely won’t feature a showdown between its titular character and the Caped Crusader. Although it’s possible the film could offer yet another take on the Wayne parents’ much-portrayed deaths in Crime Alley.

DC and Warner Bros. seem to be taking care to distance this portrayal of the character from its other iterations, noting that Joker is “an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen.” We’ll find out if all of these big ideas work as a movie when Joker hits theaters on October 4th.

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