In addition to having the DC Extended Universe covered next year with Shazam! and Wonder Woman 1984, Warner Bros is also releasing Joker, a new kind of cinematic endeavor for the DC Comics mythology. Starring Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, the man who will become the Clown Prince of Crime, Joker is a standalone movie that is working off a significantly smaller budget compared to your average comic book movie and has been described as a "character study" in the vein of The King of Comedy. At the beginning of the week, we got our first look at Phoenix's Fleck as his "normal" self in Joker, but now a video has popped up showing us what the character will look like clowned up.
Joaquin Phoenix has demonstrated numerous times how talented he is at playing unsettling characters, and Joker will be his latest opportunity to remind us. Still, even though we know that Arthur Fleck is on track to become The Joker, it's nonetheless creepy to see him in that clown makeup smiling at us in this camera test. With principal photography now underway on Joker, director Todd Phillips shared this camera test on his Instagram account, giving us our first taste of what Phoenix's Arthur will look like upon fully descending into madness. And needless to say that "Laughing" by The Guess Who playing as we zoom in on Phoenix is a nice touch.
What's unclear about this video is if Joaquin Phoenix in this clown makeup is actually Arthur Fleck's final Joker look or if this is just a precursor to him rocking a more traditional appearance, i.e. green hair, chalk white skin, etc. From what we've learned about Joker so far, this movie doesn't seem concerned at all with staying faithful to the source material, and since there's no indication that Batman is even showing up, perhaps this is as close as Phoenix's iteration of the character comes to resembling his comic book counterpart. Granted, it wouldn't be the first time we've seen a version of The Joker in makeup, but where Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight at least bared some resemblance to the Joker we've been reading about and watching for decades, Phoenix's Arthur looks more like a more generic clown serial killer. Well, as a generic as such a murderer can be.
Inspired by The Killing Joke, Joker is set in the 1980s and will follow Arthur Fleck, a failed standup comedian, turning to a life of crime in Gotham City. Along with Joaquin Phoenix, Joker's main cast includes Robert De Niro, a talk show host who plays a major role in Arthur's origin story; Zazie Beetz as Sohie Dumond, a single mother who becomes Arthur's love interest; Frances Conroy as Penny Fleck, Arthur's mother; Marc Maron as an agent on De Niro's character's talk show; Glenn Fleshler as a fellow comedian; and Brett Cullen as Thomas Wayne, as well as Bill Camp, Josh Pais, Shea Whigham, Bryan Callen and Douglas Hodge in undisclosed roles.