We’ve known for a few months now that a new Joker origin movie would be coming in soon. We also know that it won’t be featuring Jared Leto’s whimsical inked prince of crime, but instead, a brand new iteration of the character played by Joaquin Phoenix (Her, Walk the Line).
Just a few hours ago, Warner Bros. dropped the first full-length trailer for the film on their Facebook account, even before it was anywhere on Youtube. Details about the film have been scarce, but this new trailer is giving us a whole lot of details to dissect in its 2-minutes and 25-second run.
So, here’s my breakdown of the 15 details from the Joker (2019) trailer. I usually do 10 details, but this trailer has quite a few. Let’s get into it.
POSSIBLE SPOILER WARNING! FOR A MOVIE THAT HASN’T YET COME OUT.
1. The Story of a Struggling Comedian
Right off the bat, we find Arthur (Phoenix) with who I assumed to be a therapist from Arkham. There are multiple scenes in the trailer that suggest that Atrhur likes to entertain and dress up as a clown to try and make people laugh. But as we see in exactly two scenes in the trailer, people aren’t laughing. Instead, they hurt him and beat him up for doing what he loves. That’s Gotham for ya.
This failed comedian plot line feels all too similar with Alan Moore 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke. In Moore’s story, Joker is a failed stand-up comedian (not a clown), whose pregnant wife is dies while he finds himself entangled in mob business. It should also be noted that Martin Scorsese’s 1976 thriller Taxi Driver will also reportedly serve as an inspiration for the film. In that film, the main character is an insomniac taxi driver who has detached himself from reality and has delusions of saving the city from corruption and crime. it’s likely that in Joker the director is opting to combine multiple elements from both sources.
2. A Loving Mother.
We don’t get too good of a look at Arthur’s mother from the two scenes that she’s in. In the film, she’s named Penny and will be played by Frances Conroy (Mountain Rest). According to That Hashtag Show, her character is said to be sickly and nearly bedridden. Also, she is said to share an low-class apartment with her son, who just moved back home.
Arthur talks about her in the trailer when he says, “My mother always tells me to smile and put on a happy face.”
She seem very close and I think that it’s safe to assume that her death (possibly from a murder or accident, and not from her illness) is what pushes Arthur off the edge, causing him to become the Joker.
3. Sophie Dumond
This is our first look of the character Sophie Dumond played by Zazie Beetz (Slice, Deadpool 2). According to the same article from That Hashtag Show, Sophie Dumond is a single-mother who’s trying to make ends meat in a system that she knows is stacked against her. Like Arthur and his mother, she’s low class and is just trying to catch a break.
It’s been theorized that the character of Sophie will be a possible love interest or maybe even, a partner-in-crime for the Joker. Will she become the new Harlequin? I don’t know. But, the love interest angle doesn’t look to far fetched from the trailer.
4. Arkham State Hospital
Here we see Arthur walk into Arkham State Hospital. I’m not sure why they just don’t call it Arkham fricken’ Asylum. It’s not like we don’t know what it is just cause they changed the name to “state hospital”. And it clearly takes patients with mental conditions as evidenced by the aggressive restrained man Arthur shares an elevator with in the shot directly after this one. The guy is clearly insane and even has a police escort. So yeah, this is Arkham Asylum.
I assume that this is where those therapy scenes from the beginning of trailer take place. Maybe Arthur is trying to seek out help for some kind of mental condition he feels he has.
Maybe they change the name at the end of the movie. Who knows?
5. Pogo the Clown Reference
In one of the shots of the trailer, we see a comedy bar named Pogo’s. That’s a deep, dark cut. Pogo the Clown was one of two aliases of John Wayne Gacy, a real-life serial killer and rapist who targeted young boys from 1972 to 1978.
Or I could be wrong and the rest of the name was just cut out from the shot. But I think that this framing is way too perfect to be an accident.
But it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to draw similarities between Gacy, a maniacal serial killer who dresses up like a clown, and The Joker, a maniacal serial killer who dresses up like a clown. I mean, I’d say there are at least a couple similarities there. *thinks deeply*
6. A Little Trouble Smiling
We catch a glimpse of Arthur in the dressing room of what’s either a circus or a theater. In the background of that shot, one can see a few unicycles piled together to the left of Arthur and a clown costume hanging from the lockers to his right.
In the next shot, we see Arthur forced himself to smile, but he just can’t. He’s been crying. I assume that this is due to him losing his mother, as I theorized. If so, then what we’re seeing in this shot is Arthur’s slow descent into madness.
7. Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times
Modern Times was 1936 black-and-white comedy film starring Charlie Chaplin. You can see banners of it hanging from this shot of Wayne Hall. This might be some sort of theater play about the old movie, and maybe Arthur is in it or wants to be in it. I’m thinking the latter because he’s forcibly tossed out in the next shot. Or maybe he is in it, and that’s maybe why we see him in a dressing room in the previous entry.
Also in this scene, we see a crowd holding up signs. I couldn’t make out any of them, but you can clearly see two giant cut-out hands near the middle and a cut-out of a cartoon clown that kind of looks like Phoenix’s Joker.
8. Thomas Wayne
On the television in this shot, we see the character of Thomas Wayne, Batman’s not-yet-dead daddy, played by actor Brett Cullen (The Riot Act, Killing Dinner). I would’ve honestly preferred it if they brought back Jeffery Dean Morgon, who played the role in Batman v Superman (2016). He just looked the part better.
Anyway, if you’re a fan of the comics, don’t be surprised if this Thomas Wayne turns out to be a little less sympathetic than the perfect father that he was in the comics. In Joker, Wayne is running for mayor and it’s said that he’ll have a major role in Joker’s origin.
In the trailer, he hear him say, “What kind of coward would do something that cold-blooded? Someone who hides behind a mask.”
(If only he could see his son now.)
Proactive shade aside, I assume that this line refers not to a masked vigilante, but to the Joker himself. Because right after this, we see that…
9. The Joker wears a mask.
We find Arthur in his full-on Joker attire brisk walk through a busy train stop, as two detective chase after him. During the scuffle, he drops a mask on a garbage bin. The mask looks very similar this his Joker make-up, as well as the cut-out cartoon clown from the crowd assembled outside Wayne Hall from earlier entry.
My guess is that he uses this when he first starts using the persona of The Joker. A way for him to set-up whatever plan he’s cooked up without the police identifying him before he wants them to.
10. Detectives Garrity and Burke
Although the names of these characters have yet to be confirmed, the casting call listed on That Hashtag Show gave the characters the names Garrity and Burke. The detectives will be portrayed by Shea Whigham (Take Shelter) and Bill Camp (The Night Of), but it’s currently unclear who will portray who.
According to the casting call, Garrity is a by-the-book cop who is worn down by years of protecting a city like Gotham. All he cares about is the case, political ramifications be damned.
The casting call described Burke as Garrity’s partner and a nasty individual who loves being in authority. He defines himself as a cop and nothing else.
My theory? Maybe they’re playing a young Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock. It sounds like their characters. But that’s been played out.
11. Bruce Wayne
They just couldn’t help themselves could they? They had to put baby Bruce Wayne in the movie. Here see a young Bruce Wayne played by Dante Pereira-Olsen being forced to smile a staker-y Arthur.
It’s unclear what role the character will play in the film’s plot, except to remind us how large the age gap between Batman and Joker is in this incarnation of the characters. I mean, it’d be kinda weird for a 20-something Batman to beat up a 60-something-year old Joker after all his teeth already fell off.
12. Robert de Niro as Murray Franklin
Remember when Robert de Niro used to brilliantly play the roles all those cool gangsters back in the day? Yeah, well, not anymore.
In Joker, De Niro (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas) plays Murray Franklin, a talk show host. The role was reportedly written with the actor in mind. In the trailer, we see him introduce himself in an awkwardly flamboyant fashion. While in the shot that follows, The Joker walks up from behind the stage curtain during one of his shows.
From the backstage shot of The Joker doing his own flamboyant dance as the curtain rises, it seems like he’s actually Franklin’s host, which reminds me of the scene from the 1986 Frank Miller graphic novel Dark Knight Returns, where an allegedly reformed Joker goes on a talk show as a host. A few minutes in, however, he promptly kills the talk show’s host with a coffee mug. I’m wondering if that’s what we’re going to see play out here.
13. The Not-so-struggling Comedian
In contrast to where we found Arthur at the beginning of the trailer, it looks like we have him he happy on stage at the comedy club Pogo’s. There’s not sound for this specific clip, but if there was, we’d probably hear the crowd in applause.
Maybe he does make it as a comedian at some point in the movie, unlike in The Killing Joke. But I’m guess if he does, this is the point that his mother dies. That’s always how it plays out. Get the main character as happy as you can get them, then take away the one thing they love most to drive them into madness.
Who’s the real villain now?
14. Clowns on Revolt
This is an interestingly excited scene that may give us some insight into Arthur’s motives as The Joker. The sign in the far back is the only one I could make out, at least partially. It says: “If you think GREED is good…” and ends with “GOTHAM”. The rally goers are all wearing clown make-up and wigs, almost like their in support of The Joker or at least the ideals he stands for.
I guessing that Arthur’s mother’s death was indirectly caused by mayoral candidate and billionaire Thomas Wayne, or at the very least, Arthur blames him for his mother’s death. He creates the persona of The Joker to inspire anarchy and revolt among the populous, maybe telling them that life’s all a big joke and they’re the punchline, and the only one’s laughing are the greedy 1%. Or something along those lines.
But take that with a grain of salt because that’s basically a half-baked theory concocted from like three or four 1-second shots of a jumbled up trailer.
15. The Joker in all his glory.
Now for the money shot. The shot that they framed specifically to put it in the trailer. Yeah, this one – the shot where Arthur dies and the Joker is born.
The character looks significantly different from any previous incarnation, although I must say that, seeing him now, I do not mind. I’m glad they kept the green hair. But I like the red and yellow combo on the clothes, instead of the traditional purple and yellow/green. Also, I do not mind the wacky face paint. It’s notably more vivacious than Nicholson’s or Romero’s, but far too tediously neat to be compared with Ledger’s. It’s visually unique and, honestly, refreshing.
Speaking of his face paint, remember Pogo the psychopathic serial killer? Yeah, him. His face paint was more or less the same. Look it up.
And that concludes my breakdown of the 15 details that I found in the Joker (2019) trailer. When another trailer drops, I might do another one of these. But for now, tell me what you think. Did you find anything I missed? Do you like his new look? Don’t forget to give us a like and share this with your friends. Thanks!