New ‘Joker’ Footage Shows Robert De Niro in Full ‘King of Comedy’ Mode

Ryan Lattanzio

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As we wait for the final trailer to pop this coming Wednesday, more tantalizing new footage has dropped from “Joker,” director Todd Phillips’ revisionist take on the backstory of the Batman villain starring Joaquin Phoenix.

The new clips, posted as a series of Instagrams, feature the most we’ve seen so far of Robert De Niro’s Murray Franklin, a talk-show host who is instrumental in Joker’s, a.k.a. Arthur Fleck’s, ruination. De Niro has previously said that the role deliberately pays homage to his character from Martin Scorsese’s 1983 “The King of Comedy,” in which he played a middling comic who kidnaps a talk-show host he’s obsessed with. Check them out below.

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“There’s a connection, obviously, with the whole thing,” said De Niro while doing interviews for the Tribeca Film Festival. “But it’s not as a direct connection as the character I’m playing being Rupert many years later as a host.”

“Joker” is set to world-premiere at the Venice Film Festival on August 31 before moving on to the Toronto and New York film festivals. It’s unusual to see a comic-book spinoff receive this kind of festival berth, but Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera insisted, “It’s the most surprising film we’ve got this year…This one’s going straight to the Oscars even though it’s gritty, dark, violent. It has amazing ambition and scope.”

TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey said of the film, “It’s an original story that allows the filmmakers to go in an original direction. It’s got some real dark tones to it, but it’s just grounded in this career-best performance by Joaquin Phoenix. I think all the awards bodies will be taking notice.”

Director Phillips, best known for “The Hangover” trilogy, is said to already be in the works on a sequel. On the caveat, however, that Joaquin Phoenix comes with him. “One thing I will tell you: I would do anything with Joaquin Phoenix, any day of the week. There’s nobody like him. If he was willing to do it, and if people show up to this movie, and Warners came to us and said, ‘You know what? If you guys could think of something…’ Well, I have a feeling that he and I could think of something pretty cool,” Phillips said.

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