Following months of will-he-or-won’t-he speculation, Joaquin Phoenix has assumed the role of the Clown Prince of Crime in Todd Phillips’s Joker. And while initial images of the actor in character have featured him in pre-villain, average-Joe mode (schlubby clothes, long scraggly hair), Phillips has — as you can see, both above and below — finally given the world a debut look at the star in full maniacal makeup. And the internet is having strong reactions to it.
Unlike the largely vilified first photos of Jared Leto as Suicide Squad’s heavily tattooed version of the Batman nemesis, Phillips’s Instagram post — a “Camera test w/sound” scored, aptly, with the Guess Who’s “Laughing” — proves that Phoenix’s Joker will more closely resemble small-screen Batman legend Cesar Romero by way of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
The brief video clip involves a slow zoom in to Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, his protagonist’s pre-Joker form, who’s described in the official Warner Bros. plot synopsis as “a man disregarded by society.” Flashes of a clownish face are overlaid on Phoenix’s countenance until we finally arrive at the climactic close-up of Phoenix with long hair, a painted red mouth and eyebrows to match his burgundy coat, and a smile that suddenly gives way to a dark expression that’s extremely unsettling.
Response to the post has, so far, been all over the place, with some comparing it negatively to Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning The Dark Knight baddie — or Ronald McDonald — and others excited for this new, demented take on the Caped Crusader adversary:
Heath Ledger spoiled us… Every joker moving forward will forever be crap in comparison. That said… This will be a very different joker than the rest of them…
— Philip Zomberg (@Scrotota) September 21, 2018
Heath Ledger (as great as his version of the character was) may have ruined The Joker for every following Batman/DC movie. Rather than going with a depiction they know will work and doing it really well they keep trying to make each version iconic. Expectation is far too high.
— Ade Cottrell (@adetheterrible) September 21, 2018
This looks terrible.
— LMCGaming (@LMCGaming) September 21, 2018
This is going to end badly
— Jason Crable (@Elbarc11) September 21, 2018
Still looks like Ronald McDonald
— Nindroid626 (@nindroid626) September 21, 2018
I said the same thing about the Heath Ledger reveal and was wrong. We'll see.
— Kwanza Osajyefo @NYCC J4 (@kwanzer) September 21, 2018
That wasn’t what I expected
— Han 🛸 (@AndresAC1994) September 21, 2018
Aaaaaaaaaaand I already love this movie.
— Memo Grajeda! Here We Go Again (@memothegreatest) September 21, 2018
Anything phoinex is in, is brilliant already.
— Ian Rose (@izzi172203) September 21, 2018
Co-starring Robert De Niro (as a talk show host), Frances Conroy (reportedly as the Joker’s mom), Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Brett Cullen (as Batman’s father, Thomas Wayne), Marc Maron, Josh Pais, and Shea Whigham, Joker — written by Phillips and Scott Silver — will be an origin story that’s “not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale,” according to the show’s producers.
From the looks of Phoenix both in and out of makeup, it’s certainly shaping up to be an intense — and intensely original — take on the famed villain.
Production on the film is underway. It arrives in theaters on Oct. 4, 2019.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
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