The ‘Joker’ Trailer Invites Plenty Of Comparisons Between Joaquin Phoenix And Heath Ledger

Warner Bros.

The same day that Warner Bros. Pictures released the first poster for director Todd Phillips’s highly anticipated film Joker, the studio previewed the first footage from the film at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. This morning, said footage has shown up in the new DC Comics adaptation’s first teaser trailer, which sees actor Joaquin Phoenix slowly-but-surely morphing into the iconic Batman villain. And to the surprise of absolutely no one who’s seen it, Phoenix’s look and performance are being compared to Heath Ledger.

Ledger, who died in 2008, won a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed The Dark Knight. Since then, Jared Leto and Mark Hamill have portrayed the so-called “Clown Prince of Crime” in numerous films and cartoons, but with all of the obvious nods to filmmaker Martin Scorsese’s films (like Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy), Phoenix’s iteration shares more in common with Ledger’s more extreme, violent interpretation of the character.

Plus, they’re both long-haired psychopaths who apply their own makeup (as opposed to surviving chemical spills), so it’s no surprise that their performances are being compared. Most were positive:

Others, however, quickly resorted to navel-gazing arguments about which one was better (or worse), despite the fact that Joker won’t be in theaters until October. This prompted many to downplay the comparisons altogether: