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Joaquin Phoenix goes behind the ‘happy face’ in first teaser for ‘The Joker’

Joaquin Phoenix in "The Joker." | Warner Bros. 19for19

Joaquin Phoenix is finally stepping out with “The Joker.”

Director Todd Phillips revealed the first footage of the long-discussed origin story for the DC Comics arch-villain — with Phoenix as the malevolent force behind the freaky clown smile.

Phillips showed the teaser trailer at CinemaCon, the national convention of theater owners, to kick off the Warner Bros./DC Comics slate on Tuesday. The teaser was released online Wednesday, with the movie’s Twitter account tweeting, “Put on a happy face.”

The trailer shows Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck as a dejected man stumbling through the streets of Gotham. “My mother always tells me to smile and put on a happy face — she told me I had a purpose to bring laughter and joy to the world,” he says in a montage, dressed as an entertaining clown, according to That’s before he’s beaten by thugs.

More: Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker origin story is officially on and fans are irked

The trailer then follows Fleck in his Joker descent, ending as he’s committing crimes in the infamous clown attire.

Phillips described the movie as a “tragedy” and decried much of the initial reporting on “The Joker” project.

“But that’s what happens when you set out to make an origin story about a character who doesn’t have an origin,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

CinemaCon reaction to the teaser was enthusiastic.

Movie website said, “If you’re missing the ‘dark’ DC, then here’s your medicine.”

“I’m in,” said MTV news correspondent Josh Horowitz, while Beatrice Verhoeven of The Wrap said, “Joaquin’s laugh will haunt me in my sleep. I can’t wait.”

And Steven Weintraub of said, “The ‘Joker’ trailer reveals it is absolutely not like any ‘comic book’ movie that has come before.”