Set, appropriately enough, to the classic song "Smile," the first footage is set against the backdrop of a bleak early-1980s Gotham City, and follows the descent of Phoenix's Arthur Fleck, from a failed stand-up comedian to the manic criminal who becomes Batman's archenemy.
If there were doubts about whether Phillips and Phoenix could pull off a psychological thriller starring the iconic DC supervillain, this first look will undoubtedly go a long way to assuage them.
Co-star Marc Maron has described Joker as "an origin story and a character study of a mentally ill person that becomes The Joker," which certainly comes through in the teaser trailer. It's intense, and will almost certainly lead to speculation about whether Phoenix's Joker could become the definitive portrayal of the character, surpassing the acclaimed performance of the late Heath Ledger.
Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, Josh Pais and Shea Whigham. The film arrives in theaters Oct. 4.