The teaser for Joker debuted at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Tuesday, giving attendees a first look at Warner Bros.’ latest take on the venerable Batman villain, which will star Joaquin Phoenix. The teaser will be on the internet tomorrow—there’s not even a teaser for the teaser!—but reactions have begun rolling in on social media from people who saw it. According to Jason Guerrasio of Business Insider, the new film “has a very TAXI DRIVER vibe to it, but def a lot more twisted”:
Scott Wampler at Birth, Movies, Death compared the film to a different Scorsese classic, plus Darren Aronofsky’s grim Hubert Selby Jr. adaptation Requiem for a Dream:
Joker was directed by Todd Phillips from a screenplay by Phillips and 8 Mile writer Scott Silver. Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, and Requiem for a Dream all have some connection to Joker: Silver got a special thanks in the credits for Requiem for a Dream for some reason or another, and Scorsese was attached to produce Joker before dropping out last summer. While we’re all anxiously awaiting the teaser’s debut, we can try to reverse engineer it from the non-superhero-related movies it evokes. First, here’s the original trailer for Taxi Driver, a 1976 drama about a Vietnam vet who goes on a bloody rampage after Batman allows him to fall into a vat of chemicals that dye his hair green:
It is easy to forget just how scuzzy something has to look before a Taxi Driver comparison is apt. The King of Comedy is a more attainable goal, scuzz-wise, so here’s how they sold that back in the day. Robert De Niro plays Rupert Pupkin, a would-be standup who goes on a bloody rampage after Batman allows him to fall into a vat of chemicals that dye his hair green:
The shot in the trailer of De Niro in front of his cutout audience is one of the defining images of the 20th century, and since Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is reported to be a failed stand-up, it’s a natural thing for Phillips to quote from. De Niro reportedly appears in the new trailer as a talk show host, presumably a riff on Jerry Lewis’ role in the original film, in which he played Batman. Then there’s the odd man out, Requiem for a Dream. If you haven’t seen it recently, and have forgotten how frenetic movies of the early aughts tended to be, revisit the trailer for this Suicide Squad prequel, in which a young Jared Leto goes on a bloody rampage after Batman allows him to fall into a vat of chemicals that dye his hair green:
It’s not really clear where the stylistic overlap between this film and classic Scorsese films might be, but as Mike Hindes’ legendary Toy Story 2 trailer shows, you can improve just about anything by sprinkling it liberally with Requiem for a Dream:
Joker comes out October 4. While we don’t know for sure exactly what kind of movie these influences are going to add up to, one thing’s for certain: Things are going to get … twisted.