It’s a tale as old as time — boy can’t get a girl, boy’s life falls apart around him, boy goes psychotic and starts wearing clown makeup and killing people… you know, the usual.  For someone like me who loves all things Batman (yes, even “that” movie), I find it refreshing that the upcoming movie, “Joker” starring Joaquin Phoenix, is a complete break from the prior accounts of the Dark Knight’s most famous nemesis.

In a recent interview, the film’s director, Todd Phillips explained:

“We didn’t follow anything from the comic-books, which people are gonna be mad about.  We just wrote our own version of where a guy like Joker might come from. That’s what was interesting to me. We’re not even doing Joker, but the story of becoming Joker. It’s about this man.”

Warner Bros. recently released 20 production photos from the film and they are definitely in line with Phillips’ assertion. Among them you won’t see a single vat of acid, set of chattering teeth, red hood, or yet another clever shot of a pearl necklace going to pieces in an alley.  Rather, the photos showcase Joaquin Phoenix’s character, Arthur Fleck, who is a failed stand-up comedian beaten down by the unflinching brutality of life in Gotham.  These surprisingly eye-catching pics show Fleck in various stages of his inevitable descent into the madness that is Joker.  There are also a few depictions of others on the cast of the film, which includes Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, and Frances Conroy.  Additionally, there are some behind-the-scenes shots involving director Todd Phillips.  We already know that Joker will be set in the 1970s or early 80s, so the dated costumes and sets are no surprise.

While some fans may bristle at the fact that Phoenix’s Joker doesn’t follow the tropes from previous Batman dogma from comics, movies, and TV, I find it refreshing.  There’s just something about watching a person’s life implode that makes me shudder, knowing that but for the grace of the god(s), I might go there too.  Seeing the Joker story retold in a new but still familiar way, just amplifies the creepiness to a whole new level — I can’t wait!  Scroll down to see the rest of the pictures.