On Friday director Todd Phillips released a camera test of Joaquin Phoenix in his Joker makeup and it is certainly a look. My first thought was that he looks like Pogo the Clown, aka John Wayne Gacy. My second thought was that he sort of looks like the mask Heath Ledger’s Joker wore in the bank robbery scene in The Dark Knight, which is certainly a Big Mood to evoke. My third thought was that I like this a lot better than Jared Leto’s version of the character. Joker-mark-Joaquin looks like he got his costume at a Party City, but at least he doesn’t look like a rejected Juggalo.

Phillips released the official first look in advance of on-location filming in New York City which busted Phoenix in full costume (photos attached). This is what I wanted for Captain Marvel, instead of settling for out-of-context set photos of not even her real costume, do something neat to set the tone. This is one area in which the DC movies consistently do better than Marvel—they know how to hype. It usually backfires because their movies are almost uniformly terrible, but at least they know how to create a sense of occasion. 

The question is whether or not this sense of occasion will pay off with Joker-mark-Joaquin. He looks fine—after Ledger’s shocking makeover I don’t think anyone will ever recapture the feeling of making the Joker “new”—and sure, this one-off, character-driven superhero movie model can work. It certainly worked for Logan. I’m not super into the strong whiffs of The Killing Joke I keep getting—and boy does Phoenix’s costume look like The Killing Joke— because The Killing Joke is so awful the guy who wrote it does not stand by it. And I’m not convinced we need a whole movie about how he “got the scars”, so to speak. But I guess, all things being even, this is the Joker movie to which I most look forward to being subjected. I mean, it’s happening. At this point, all we can do is hope for the best from Party City Joker.

PS: Jared Leto would like us all to remember that he, too, is a Joker.