Small Details In The Joker Trailer Only True Fans Noticed

The first trailer for director Todd Phillips’
Joker has arrived, and the Joaquin Phoenix-led origin story looks, in a word, terrifying. Here are some of the small details you may
have missed in one of the most interesting trailers of the year so far. Struggling comedian Arthur Fleck is first
seen sitting in the office of his therapist, who asks him if it helps to have someone to
talk to. He doesn’t answer. His first spoken lines in the trailer, heard
in voiceover as he makes his lonely way up a set of stone steps, makes reference to his
mother. “She told me I had a purpose. To bring laughter and joy to the world.” A part-time clown and struggling comedian,
Fleck appears to have taken her advice to heart, but there are clues that their relationship
isn’t necessarily the healthiest. Fleck is seen bathing his mother as if she
were a child and dancing with her as if she were his wife. These are the only times she appears in the
spot and the only scenes in which Fleck looks genuinely happy. It can be implied from the therapist’s question
that Fleck would never share his inner darkness with his mother. There are also hints that his mother might
actually be the reason for Fleck’s troubles. He appears to be filling a caretaker role
here. The specter of mental illness looms large
over the trailer. Early on, Fleck is seen scribbling in a notebook. The page is labeled “Jokes,” but the sentiment
scrawled out in increasingly large letters at its bottom isn’t particularly funny. It may be that Fleck’s mother’s own struggles
with mental illness will have a part to play here, further suggested by the fact that he
is seen visiting Arkham Hospital, where he is visibly disturbed as a patient sharing
his elevator thrashes about on a stretcher. Who is he visiting there, if not dear old
Mom? The very next shot sees him in the audience
at a comedy club called Pogo’s, incidentally, the stage name of John Wayne Gacy, where we
hear the Joker’s singularly unhinged cackle coming out of Fleck’s mouth for the first
time. Could his mother’s decline as a result of
mental illness be what drives him over the edge? One very brief shot in the middle of the trailer
might grab your attention if you’re a classic film buff. An audience is seen gathering outside a concert
hall called Wayne Hall to catch a screening of the Charlie Chaplin film Modern Times. The more familiar one is with Chaplin’s life
and work, the more significant the shot feels. Though he was a pioneer of cinema comedy,
there was an underlying melancholy to Chaplin, informed by his difficult upbringing. He had an absentee father and a mother who
was eventually committed to an asylum. Chaplin would eventually rise to fame behind
a pale-faced, clownish persona. Even the titles and production histories of
some of his works are thematically tied to the content of this film. There’s The Circus, about a clown who can
only make people laugh unintentionally. During its filming, Chaplin’s mother passed
and he went through a divorce. Then there’s Limelight, a later work featuring
Chaplin as a washed-up comedian who literally performs up until the moment of his death. And there’s Laughing Gas. You can probably put that one together. And there’s Modern Times itself, in which
Chaplin’s beleaguered assembly line worker is hospitalized after suffering a nervous
breakdown. Joker may be the first film to focus squarely
on the villain rather than Batman, but the trailer goes out of its way to let us know
that Fleck’s history with the Wayne family will be long and tangled. While Phillips has insisted that his flick
will be a true standalone film with no sequels, that doesn’t mean he won’t in some way explore
Fleck and Bruce Wayne’s relationship to each other. The trailer hints at the fact that Fleck may
set young Master Wayne on a dark path early in life. During one sequence in which Fleck is shown
lovingly handling a gun, there’s a talking head on his television. “What kind of coward would do something that
cold blooded? Someone who hides behind a mask.” This man happens to be none other than Thomas
Wayne, played by Brett Cullen. A later sequence finds Fleck outside of Wayne
Manor’s gates, playfully engaging with young Bruce, played by Dante Pereira-Olson. He then reaches through the gate’s bars, pushing
the boy’s lips up into a twisted smile. Thomas Wayne will apparently serve as an antagonist
to Fleck. Will the comedian follow in the footsteps
of another cinematic Joker, becoming the one to commit the crimes which result in the creation
of his nemesis? There are few actors of greater stature than
Robert De Niro, and his casting in Joker can certainly be seen as something of a coup for
the production. It can also be seen as something more. Phillips has made no secret of the great Martin
Scorsese’s influence on his film, and De Niro has appeared in some of the director’s greatest
works, including Taxi Driver, which features iconic shots of De Niro’s Travis Bickle striking
shirtless poses very similar to those struck by Fleck in the trailer, and The King of Comedy,
which may be somewhat of a blueprint for Joker. In Scorcese’s film, De Niro portrays Rupert
Pupkin, an aspiring comedian with severe mental health issues of his own. A chance meeting with talk show host Jerry
Langford, played by Jerry Lewis, convinces him that he’s finally gotten his big break. But when Langford shoots down his request
to appear on his show, Pupkin resorts to drastic measures. He kidnaps Langford with the help of an accomplice,
and for his ransom, convinces the authorities to proceed with the taping of his show with
Pupkin as the opening performer. He proceeds to deliver an absolutely killer
set, parlaying the appearance into nationwide fame. A result which, in true Scorsese fashion,
may very well have been all in his troubled mind. Considering that De Niro portrays a talk show
host in Joker, and that Fleck is seen waiting in the wings of his show, it’s safe to say
that a similar dynamic may come into play. The trailer’s closing shots feature Fleck
in full Joker mode. His hair is dyed a bright green, with makeup
in full effect. There’s a bouquet of fake flowers in hand
while he strides purposefully down what appears to be one of Arkham Hospital’s halls wearing
a less-than-mirthful expression. He’s also seen in the same garb performing
a triumphant dance on the very stone steps he’s shown traversing at the beginning, and
his look is more “classic Joker” than at any point in the trailer. Hardcore DC Comics fans will have a special
appreciation for the look. It’s very similar to the Joker’s design on
the cover of 1991’s Robin II issue #1. The makeup is different, but it’s obvious
that Joker’s costume designers did their homework, crafting a look more visually evocative of
the comics’ Clown Prince of Crime than perhaps any we’ve seen on film thus far. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about Joker
are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one.

David Anderson

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