UPDATE: Read Our Joker trailer breakdown here.
The first trailer for Joker is here, but what music plays over the footage? Back in 2017, word broke that Warner Bros. was developing a standalone film exploring the iconic villain’s origins, which would be completely separate from any pre-established continuity from earlier movies. At the time, many were convinced it was a bad idea, but there were those who felt Joker had the potential to be an interesting experiment and the evolution the comic book genre needed. Due to the project’s one-off nature, director Todd Phillips was able to attract a talented cast that included the like of Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, and others.
Last year as Joker was in production, fans were treated to several glimpses of the film via official reveals by Phillips (Phoenix’s clown get-up) and leaked set photos/videos taken from location. With each look, people became more and more intrigued by the film’s potential and now they finally have a real taste of what Phillips has in store. Following last night’s CinemaCon presentation, Warner Bros. released the Joker trailer online this morning, and they made a pitch-perfect music selection.
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The Joker trailer is set to Jimmy Durante’s version of the song “Smile.” The tune originally appeared as an instrumental track in the 1936 Charlie Chaplin vehicle Modern Times. In 1954, John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added lyrics. Nat King Cole performed one of the more famous versions with vocals, which was a hit single in 1954.
Lyrically, “Smile” tells the listener to keep their head up high no matter how bad things get, because tomorrow could bring about better fortunes. In a twisted way, this message can be applied to Joker’s Arthur Fleck, who becomes increasingly convinced the world is a crazy and bizarre place. Footage in the trailer shows Arthur is somewhat down on his luck; he’s frequently beaten up by strangers and struggling as a stand-up comedian. In response, he transforms into the Joker, a character prominently known for his psychotic smile. As Arthur says, he used to think his life was a tragedy, but realized it’s actually a comedy. Dressing up as a killer clown may not be what Arthur’s mom or Durante had in mind when they said to smile, but Arthur’s trying to make sense of it all in his own way.
The use of “Smile” also underscores how different Joker is compared to other comic book movies of the modern era. If it weren’t for the Batman mythos connections (Arkham, a mention of Gotham), viewers would be hard-pressed to recognize this as the latest DC adaptation. Joker is very unique, positioned more as a smaller, character-driven drama that takes cues from Martin Scorsese classics like Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy than anything else. This is a film that doesn’t have shared universe tie-ins or even franchise building on its mind. It’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out, but Joker is shaping up to be one of the most promising titles this fall.
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Key Release Dates
Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
DC Super Pets (2021) release date: May 21, 2021
The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022
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