- “Joker,” the origin story of Batman’s biggest foe, stars Joaquin Phoenix and will be released October 4, 2019.
- The gritty re-imagining contains multiple references to both the original comics and movies.
- Warner Brothers released the first teaser trailer for the film, and we broke down everything you might have missed from actors you may recognize to the Martin Scorsese movies referenced.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: Warner Bros. released the first trailer for “Joker,” an origin story about Batman’s most famous foe, starring Joaquin Phoenix. There’s a lot of references to movies and the original comic books alike. Here’s everything you might have missed.
In the first shot, we see Arthur Fleck, not in clown makeup, meeting with a social worker named Debra Kane. Kane was also featured in the comic “Batman: The Ultimate Evil.” Bruce Wayne uses her as an informant to investigate a pedophile ring.
We see Fleck sitting in a room working on a sheet of jokes. As we see later in the trailer, this Joker is an aspiring comedian. In the Batman story “The Killing Joke,” The Joker is also portrayed as a struggling stand-up comedian.
The Joker: I got nervous and blew a punchline.
Narrator: If you take a close look at the notebook, you can see that The Joker’s material pulls from his real life.
There’s references to mental illness, insomnia, and poverty.
It’s important to note that this is a comic book movie heavily inspired not just by the source material, but also by a lot of movies. The filmmakers have stated that their intention was not just to make a DC movie but rather one that looks a lot like a Martin Scorsese movie.
The movie is set in Gotham in 1981, and the look of it seems pulled from the 1970s and 1980s New York, as you can see from the shots of the street, the cars, and the subway.
Martin Scorsese’s 1976 masterpiece, “Taxi Driver,” also takes place in this setting. In the movie, Robert De Niro plays insomnia-stricken Vietnam war veteran Travis Bickle, who rides the city streets at night and plunges into unimaginable darkness.
In one of the movie’s most famous lines, Bickle says,
Travis Bickle: There’s no escape. I am God’s lonely man.
Narrator: Warner Bros. described “Joker” as an exploration of a man disregarded by society that is not only a character study but also a broader cautionary tale.
This scene with Arthur on a date is also reminiscent of Travis Bickle’s scenes with Cybill Shepherd before he melts down.
The other Scorsese movie this pulls heavily from is 1982’s “The King of Comedy.” In that dark comedy, De Niro plays Rupert Pupkin, a man so obsessed with becoming a comedian that he kidnaps his favorite talk show host in order to finally get himself on TV.
In “King of Comedy,” Pupkin lives with his mother, and in “Joker,” it appears Fleck does as well. His mother is played by Frances Conroy, who also appeared in the 2004 movie “Catwoman.”
Later in the trailer, we see The Joker greet a TV audience on a set that looks a lot like the one from “The King of Comedy,” and the host of that show appears to be played by none other than Robert De Niro.
It also appears that The Joker is inspiring a lot of rabid, violent followers. The twist at the end of “The King of Comedy” is that, despite Pupkin landing in prison, he becomes a beloved, if infamous, celebrity.
The movie references go all the way back to 1936. We see Fleck getting kicked out of a screening of the silent Charlie Chaplin classic “Modern Times” at a building called Wayne Hall. The trailer is also partially scored by a remix of the Chaplin song “Smile.”
At one point we hear him say,
The Joker: My mother always tells me to smile.
Narrator: And let’s not forget one of The Joker’s most famous lines from “The Dark Knight.”
The Joker: Let’s put a smile on that face.
Narrator: At one point, we see Arkham Asylum, which plays an integral role in the “Batman” universe, particularly with its villains.
At one point, we see The Joker greet a child. This appears to be a young Bruce Wayne. Could this be leading to The Joker murdering Wayne’s parents?
The murder of Bruce’s parents pops up in almost every “Batman” movie. In the 1989 “Batman,” in which Jack Nicholson plays The Joker, The Joker is the one who commits the crime. This isn’t always the case, but we’re wondering if that’s what this movie is leading to.
Similarly, Arthur’s attacked in an alley just as Bruce Wayne’s parents were. Thomas Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s dad, even appears briefly in this shot on TV.
The Joker’s makeup towards the end is similar to the mask worn by the protesters earlier in the trailer, and he is seen dyeing his hair green, just like the wig he wears while working in the streets.
Oh, and we finally get to hear this new Joker’s trademark laugh.
Narrator: Did you notice anything we didn’t? Let us know in the comments.