Warner Bros has released the first trailer for Joker, its upcoming origin story for the classic Batman villain.

It’s directed by Todd Phillips, and stars Joaquin Phoenix as the eponymous character.

The preview gives us our first look at Phoenix’s depiction of the character, a clown and struggling comedian from Gotham City named Arthur Fleck.

Fleck seems to have fallen on hard times. He is beaten up and humiliated on the streets and in the subway and sinisterly muses, “Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?”

Over the course of the trailer, we see his descent into madness, appearing at the very end in costume as the classic villain, with green hair, white face and red lips all prominently displayed.

The film is reportedly inspired by Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy – movies with leading characters struggling to deal with hardships and mental illness. Scorsese is credited as a producer on the film.

A scene in the trailer also shows an excited crowd queuing up to see Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times – the classic film depicting the life of a factory worker completely overwhelmed by modern life and who consequently suffers a nervous breakdown.

Joker looks as though it’s pulling some of its inspiration from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s classic graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, which introduced one origin story for the character.

While there are some small references to the larger Warner Bros touchstones, such as Arkham Asylum, there’s no sight of Batman apart from a cameo appearance from a young Bruce Wayne.

Joker opens in cinemas on October 4.