Joker: Joaquin Phoenix Cracks a Smile in New Photo

The DC Films universe is set to head into a whole other direction with Joker, and now we've got a delightfully-creepy new look at the film's lead. USA Today recently debuted a series of official photos from this fall's blockbusters, including a photo of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) holding the sides of his mouth into a smile.

joker joaquin phoenix photo usatoday
(Photo: Warner Bros. / USA Today)

The film will star Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian whose descent into madness turns him into the villain. Seeing as the Joker's origin story has been pretty nebulous over the decades of DC Comics canon, the film will be taking a unique approach to shaping the iconic villain.

“We didn’t follow anything from the comic-books, which people are gonna be mad about,” director Todd Phillips explained in a recent interview. “We just wrote our own version of where a guy like Joker might come from. That’s what was interesting to me. We’re not even doing Joker, but the story of becoming Joker. It’s about this man.”

“I wouldn’t quite classify this as like any genre," Phoenix said in an interview last year. "I wouldn’t say it’s a superhero movie, or a studio movie or a … It feels unique, and I think more then anything, and probably the most important thing, is Todd seems very passionate about it and very giving, and so that’s exciting. I think, underneath the excitement of these films, and the size of them, there are these incredible characters that are dealing with real life struggles. And sometimes that is uncovered and exposed, and sometimes it isn’t, and so I always felt, like, there were characters in comics that were really interesting and deserve the opportunity to be kind of studied. And so I think that’s what Todd sees appealing about this idea."

“I take a lot of time and consideration when making decisions and what I’m gonna work on, always." Phoenix added. "So, in some ways, the process, which is obviously reading a script and meeting a filmmaker and then continuing to have meetings and discussions with Todd [Phillips]. I think he’s very impressive and he seems to have a very interesting understanding of this world and what he’s trying to say. And so there is something very appealing about that and working with him on this particular project. It feels unique, it is its own world in some ways, and maybe, mostly, it scares the f-cking sh-t out of me or something. It might as well be the thing that scares you the most.”

Joining Phoenix in the film are Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy, Marc Maron, and Brian Tyree Henry.

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Joker will be released in theaters on October 4th. Other upcoming DC movies include Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) on February 7, 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020, The Batman on June 25, 2021, The Suicide Squad on August 6, 2021, and Aquaman 2 on December 16, 2022.