With all the Marvel news coming out of Disney’s D23 Expo this week we didn’t want people to forget about the Distinguished Competition. Warner Brothers Pictures just dropped the final trailer for Joker, the movie about DC Comics’ Clown Prince of Crime. The film is a standalone origin story for the Joker that takes place in the 1970s and is outside of the DC movie universe continuity. Check out the trailer below:

Well, that certainly seems different. The movie has less of a superhero flick vibe and more of a Taxi Driver meets Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns type atmosphere. With Robert De Niro playing a key role in the film, it’s hard not to make the connection to Martin Scorsese, whose work clearly influenced Joker.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to be all anyone is talking about these days and rightly so. DC’s own cinematic universe has had some ups and downs, but Joker marks a totally new direction for WB’s comicbook arm. Taking Joker out of any established continuity feels somewhat refreshing and freeing for the filmmakers to try something new.

Director Todd Philips recently spoke to the LA Times about his year-long struggle to get this alternate version of Joker made, saying:

“There were emails about ‘You realize we sell Joker pajamas at Target.’ There were a zillion hurdles, and you just sort of had to navigate those one at a time… At the time I would curse them in my head every day. But then I have to put it in perspective and go, ‘They’re pretty bold that they did this.’”

The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck/Joker, who has danced around comicbook character roles in the past. Phoenix almost played Doctor Strange for Marvel Studios before pulling out at the last minute. The LA Times article says that the complexity of the character is what drew Phoenix to the role.

Phoenix explained:

“That’s really the only thing that’s worthwhile; the other thing is connect-the-dots and paint-by-numbers, and who the [heck] cares about that? There are certain areas of the character that frankly still aren’t clear to me, and I’m fine with that. There’s something enjoyable about not having to answer a lot of those questions. It requires a certain amount of participation from the audience that feels different.”

Todd Philips expounded upon that, saying:

“The movies that I grew up loving, these character studies from the ’70s, you couldn’t get those movies made in this climate. I said to myself, ‘What if you did a movie in that vein but made it about [comicbook] characters?’”

Color us intrigued. Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Marc Maron, and Zazie Beetz and is written by Todd Philips and Scott Silver, with Philips taking over directing duties as well. The movie opens October 4th. Send in the clowns.