Last week, director Todd Phillips released the first photo of Joaquin Phoenix in his Joker movie. The image seemed rather pedestrian at first glance, with Phillips writing the caption “Arthur.” Arthur looked like just a guy — albeit maybe a sad, down on his luck guy.
But that seemed to be the point. The man who became the Joker — a homicidal maniac and criminal mastermind, Batman’s greatest foe — wasn’t anyone special. The photo of Phoenix might have even presented something of a blank canvas, if you took the time to stare at it. Is he smirking? Does he give off any sense of the maniac to be unleashed?