During the 2019 Venice International Film Festival, Todd Phillips’ Joker walked away with the festival's top honor – the Golden Lion for Best Film. Starring Joaquin Phoenix as the titular villain, Joker explores the early origins of Batman’s most notorious enemy.

“Failed comedian Arthur Fleck encounters violent thugs while wandering the streets of Gotham City dressed as a clown. Disregarded by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker,” reads the film’s official synopsis. 

Phillips thanked “Warner Bros. and DC for stepping out of their comfort zone and taking such a bold swing on me and this movie,” during his acceptance speech. He also thanked Phoenix, who joined him on stage, saying: “There is no movie without Joaquin Phoenix. Joaquin is the fiercest and brightest and most open-minded lion I know. Thank you for trusting me with your insane talent.”

Phoenix is the latest actor to tackle the Clown Prince of Crime, following recent film portrayals by Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) and Jared Leto (Suicide Squad). 

Joker hits theaters on October 5, 2019.