‘Joker’ Trailer: Joaquin Phoenix in Serious Villain Mode

“I used to think that my life was a tragedy,” says Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) in the teaser for “Joker,” the forthcoming supervillain movie. “But now I realize it’s a comedy.”

Still, this origin story for Batman’s archnemesis looks serious, even though it was directed by Todd Phillips, best known for humorous fare like the “Hangover” trilogy. Hauntingly scored with Jimmy Durante’s version of “Smile,” the trailer shows Fleck dancing with his mother (Frances Conroy), dressing as a clown and getting brutalized by thugs, and being hit by a cab.

A “Taxi Driver” vibe permeates the clip, with Phoenix delivering a Travis Bickle-style voice-over about the decline of Gotham City: “Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” When Robert De Niro shows up as a Johnny Carson-esque talk show host, the scene seems to pay homage to another Martin Scorsese movie, “The King of Comedy.”

The impressive ensemble includes two cast members from the FX series “Atlanta”: Zazie Beetz as Fleck’s love interest and Brian Tyree Henry as an employee at Arkham State Hospital. “Joker” hits theaters on Oct. 4.

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