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The Joker’s final trailer reveals how society created the Joker

It’s time to send in the clowns.

Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

It’s time for the last laugh: Warner Bros. released the final trailer for Joker, its standalone origin story for Batman’s infamous archvillain.

The final trailer gives us a deeper, if not linear, look at Arthur Fleck’s descent into madness and becoming the Joker. Fleck (played by Joaquin Phoenix) begins as a little bit odd but ostensibly harmless — he just wants to make people laugh. But society doesn’t give him that chance, with everyone from a concerned mother on a bus to late-night comedian Murray Franklin (played by Robert De Niro) picking him apart for his sense of humor and stomping on his dreams. For Arthur, being misunderstood by society is death by a thousand cuts, and Franklin’s rebuke in particular awakens his psychopathic alter ego.

What happens next is a violent spiral into the famed character. And with no Batman in sight, it looks like there’s little in the way of Fleck exacting revenge on all his critics. By the end, we’ll get to see the man as we all remember him: the one with that harrowing laugh and hideous, perpetual smile.

“Can you introduce me as Joker?” Fleck asks at the end of the trailer, painted in his ghoulish spin on clown makeup just before he heads onstage. The red smile is too wide, the eyes too perky to be anything but harmless. The last thing we hear is a haunting version of the Stephen Sondheim show tune “Send in the Clowns.”

Joker is an origin story set in Gotham in the 1980s that aims to once again add depth and sadism to a character who was a little underwhelming in his last big-screen appearance, in 2016’s Suicide Squad, where he was played by Jared Leto.

Leto’s performance, like Suicide Squad as a whole, wasn’t well-received — which, following Heath Ledger’s iconic version of the character from 2008’s The Dark Knight, has left fans particularly eager for a better representation of the Joker in the years since. Fans are hoping for a reset, a return to the hallowed and menacing figure from the comic books. And given the trailer, and what we’ve seen of Phoenix’s macabre performance, it doesn’t seem like fans will have to wait very long.

Joker arrives in theaters on October 4, 2019.