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WATCH: First ‘Joker’ Trailer Released; Response Online Suggests DC’s Gamble Paid Off

On Wednesday, Warner Bros. Pictures released the first trailer for the highly anticipated Joaquin Phoenix-starring “Joker,” and the response online suggests that DC’s decision to produce a genre-bending, deviously dark and intensely psychological take on the famous bad guy might end up paying off.

Directed and co-written by Todd Phillips (director of the “Hangover” series and “War Dogs”) and co-starring Zazie Beetz and Robert De Niro, “Joker” is scheduled for release on October 4, six months from the day of its first trailer’s release. The film’s one-sentence description on IMDB captures the directness of the standalone origin film’s plot: “A failed stand-up comedian is driven insane and becomes a psychopathic murderer.” The trailer emphasizes Phillips’ gritty approach to the grim story:

In an interview with Collider last summer, Phoenix described Todd’s decision to defy genres and make the film a standalone that is heavily psychological and does not fit into the larger DC Universe.

“It feels unique, it is its own world in some ways, and maybe, mostly, it scares the f***ng sh** out of me or something. It might as well be the thing that scares you the most,” said the actor, adding later: “I wouldn’t quite classify this as like any genre. 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.”

After watching the trailer, many fans have echoed aspects of what Phoenix described back in July. So far, the decision to break ranks from the standard superhero film and go psychological is receiving high praise.

“Anyone who doesn’t realize that the character of #Joker is steeped in tragedy and darkness and thinks this film isnt ‘light’ or ‘fun’ enough has allowed themselves to be consumed by the current culture of superhero films and are essentially living in a box,” wrote one fan.

“This ‘fun’ argument that always appears for DC movies is old and tired,” another fan wrote. “Marvel has been successful with that formula, yes. The thing is, Marvel isn’t every studio, so that comparison is ridiculous. Filmmaking is has a wide spectrum of tones. Thanks for understanding.”

“Trailer for #Joker has dropped & this looks DARK (as it should be),” wrote another. “Joaquin Pheonix is chewing up this beautifully shot scenery. His body language, his creepy dialogue, & THAT HAUNTING LAUGH are absolutely perfect. No need to compare to Nolan…Heath would be proud. Can’t wait!”

“#Joker looks absolutely stunning,” wrote another fan. “I love how the trailer isn’t showing Joaquin Phoenix wax poetic about chaos, or showing him on a murderous rampage. It’s showing his descent into madness, as he gradually loses his grip on reality. This could be something special.”

Two quotes in particular from the trailer seem to have really resonated with many fans: “I used to think my life was a tragedy, but now I realize it’s a comedy,” and a line scribbled in his notebook: “The worst part about having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”

These and other examples of responses below, some commenting directly on the film’s tone and uniqueness and others noting key details from the trailer:

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