Joker puts on a happy face in these exclusive images from the Joaquin Phoenix-starring movie

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

The Joker remains arguably the best comic book villain ever created, with such actors as Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson previously bringing the iconic character to life on the big screen. Next comes Joaquin Phoenix's version of the iconic Batman enemy, with the actor portraying Arthur Fleck in the Joker's forthcoming solo flick.

For the latest issue of our sister publication Total Film magazine, the actor, along with director and co-writer Todd Phillips, spoke about Joker and how the tale of the eponymous corrupted comedian offers a mirror to the real world without getting into the particulars of politics. You can also see exclusive images from the movie above and below, revealing new looks at Phoenix's and Zazie Beetz's character.

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

“There were times when I would go, like, ‘Look at this fucking world, and how we lack empathy and real compassion and care,’” Phoenix says when asked if he needed to only turn on the news to help shape his portrayal. “I felt like there were things that odd and [co-writer] Scott [Silver] were touching on that were relevant to what we may be experiencing now. But I also felt like they weren’t being didactic, and they weren’t steering you towards one particular way of watching the movie, and saying, ‘This is the cause.’ To me, the Joker…” 

“I’m reluctant to shape the way people view this movie," Phoenix adds. "There’s not really a right way of looking at this film. Part of what is so fascinating about the Joker is that there isn’t the specific origin. There’s not a specific catalyst. And so it allows us as a viewer to project our own ideas of discontent or whatever we feel onto the character. So yes, I think there are a lot of things that are relevant. I hope that people explore those things and talk about them. It’s a safe way to do that. But I also feel like: it’s not just that.” 

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Phillips, who also acts as a director on the film, agrees that Joker "is not meant to be political, but it is meant to be provocative." He continues: "I think there will be some 21-year-olds that go and watch it who just think it’s a version of a Joker story. And that’s fine, too. I don’t want to define it as this message movie, because it’s not. But it definitely is, the same way that The Dark Knight was not a message movie, but it definitely was a post-9/11 terrorist sort of ‘Oh shit…’ thing.

Phoenix and Phillips spoke at length with Total Film magazine about the movie for the latest issue's cover feature, with Phillips also touching on how the movie has been influences by The Hangover trilogy and whether there could be a sequel. The new issue reaches store shelves on August 23. Meanwhile, Joker reaches cinemas October 4.

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Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.