Joaquin Phoenix stars as Batman’s arch nemesis in Todd Phillips’s upcoming film Joker.
The highly anticipated feature has already made a splash, scooping a Golden Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival last month.
But it has also attracted criticism for appearing to glamorise and justify violence.
Here’s what you need to know about Joker.
It is the first time Joker’s origin story has been explored
In 1981, Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian, turns to a life of crime and chaos in gritty Gotham City.
Fleck’s story is part of the lore of the Batman series but until now had not been fleshed out.
It’s sparked controversy over its depiction of violence
Family members of the victims of a mass shooting inside a US cinema have taken issue with the film.
Masked gunman James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 during a 2012 mass shooting at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado.
He reportedly identified as the Joker and was armed with a rifle, shotgun and two handguns, according to police.
The families sent a letter to Warner Bros expressing concerns about the film but the studio dismissed fears the film could encourage similar attacks.
Alec Baldwin almost played Batman’s father
The American actor, 61, was lined up to play Thomas Wayne in the movie but pulled out because it clashed with another project.
Baldwin told USA Today: “I’m no longer doing that movie,” and said “scheduling” issues had arisen.
He added: “I’m sure there are 25 guys who can play that part.”
Joker is touted as an Oscar contender
Most critics have lauded the film and suggested it could bag Phoenix his first Oscar, after he was nominated on three occasions.
The Golden Lion award has previously spotlighted films that went on to be major awards season players, such as Roma and The Shape Of Water.
Heath Ledger won an Oscar for playing the Joker in The Dark Knight, but that was for best supporting actor, and to date no one has won an Oscar for playing the lead in a comic book-inspired feature.
Phoenix underwent a dramatic body transformation for the part
Known for his intense character performances, Phoenix consigned himself to an apple a day in the lead-up to filming.
He dropped 52lb to fully inhabit the emaciated and depraved character.
Phoenix and Phillips grew incredibly close during filming
Joker’s star and director developed a special bond on-set and remain close friends.
“After we finish shooting, we’ll call each other and text for hours and talk about the next scene,” Phoenix said.
“On the weekends we’ll meet and go over the scenes that we were shooting that week. We’ll get to set early. I just feel like we’re unified in this process.”
Joker opens in cinemas on Friday.