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Joaquin Phoenix's "Joker" Painfully Details The Character's Descent Into Madness

Joker debuts in theaters on Oct. 4, 2019.

Posted on April 3, 2019, at 11:19 a.m. ET

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Warner Bros. on Wednesday morning released the trailer for Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the titular character in a standalone origin story about one of Batman's most iconic enemies.

The trailer begins with a shot of the Joker sitting in a therapist's office, where he's asked, "Does it help to have someone to talk to?"

"My mother always tells me to smile and put on a happy face," he responds.

Warner Bros.

The next few shots showcase the Joker's beginnings and the violence that likely led to his insanity. The Joker — narrating in a voiceover — continues, talking about his mother, Penny Fleck, played by Frances Conroy.

"She told me I had a purpose," he says, "to bring laughter and joy to the world."

The innocent-looking Joker we see in the beginning slowly begins to change when he — taking his mother's advice — tries to spread joy.

While working he gets his sign stolen by a group of kids.

Warner Bros.

And they waste no time humiliating him on the street.

Warner Bros.

"Is it just me or is it getting crazier out there?" he says, as a shot of him facing away from the camera with his back contorted appears and creeps in closer, signaling a transformation.

Warner Bros.

While a cover of "Smile" plays — made eerier as the trailer progresses with shots of the Joker applying his makeup for the first time — we're also shown a series of shots that help round out the stellar cast, including Zazie Beetz, star of Atlanta and Deadpool 2 and the upcoming Lucy in the Sky.

Warner Bros.

There's also Beetz's Atlanta costar Brian Tyree Henry, who recently starred in the Oscar-nominated film If Beale Street Could Talk.

Warner Bros.

And two-time Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro.

Warner Bros.

Joker was directed by Todd Phillips, the man behind the Hangover trilogy.

The film hits theaters on Oct. 4, 2019.

Warner Bros.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.