Joaquin Phoenix's “Joker” Painfully Details The Character's Descent Into Madness

Warner Bros. on Wednesday morning released the trailer for Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the titular character in a standalone origin story about one of Batman’s most iconic enemies.

The trailer begins with a shot of the Joker sitting in a therapist’s office, where he’s asked, “Does it help to have someone to talk to?”

“My mother always tells me to smile and put on a happy face,” he responds.

The next few shots showcase the Joker’s beginnings and the violence that likely led to his insanity. The Joker — narrating in a voiceover — continues, talking about his mother, Penny Fleck, played by Frances Conroy.

“She told me I had a purpose,” he says, “to bring laughter and joy to the world.”

The innocent-looking Joker we see in the beginning slowly begins to change when he — taking his mother’s advice — tries to spread joy.

While working he gets his sign stolen by a group of kids.

And they waste no time humiliating him on the street.

“Is it just me or is it getting crazier out there?” he says, as a shot of him facing away from the camera with his back contorted appears and creeps in closer, signaling a transformation.

While a cover of “Smile” plays — made eerier as the trailer progresses with shots of the Joker applying his makeup for the first time — we’re also shown a series of shots that help round out the stellar cast, including Zazie Beetz, star of Atlanta and Deadpool 2 and the upcoming Lucy in the Sky.

There’s also Beetz’s Atlanta costar Brian Tyree Henry, who recently starred in the Oscar-nominated film If Beale Street Could Talk.

And two-time Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro.

Joker was directed by Todd Phillips, the man behind the Hangover trilogy.

The film hits theaters on Oct. 4, 2019.