Can a superhero movie also be an awards movie? We’re going to find out.

It looks like Todd Phillips’ Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix as a new version of the Clown Prince of Crime in his first solo film, is going to be the rare comic-book film that’s making appearances at film festivals. It was announced today by the Toronto International Film Festival that Joker will be making its “North American Premiere” at the fest. TIFF is one of the fall’s biggest festivals and is widely regarded as one of the key events in the kickoff to the movie business’ awards season. If you want to launch a movie with a lot of critical buzz, that’s the place to do it.

Here’s the film’s synopsis:

Joker centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. Philips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck (hoenix), a man disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.

Certainly other superhero movies have competed for Oscars before — and specifically people who’ve played the Joker have. Heath Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his incredible performance in The Dark Knight. Still, it’s rare that a comic-book film is positioned as a prestige picture and placed among other arthouse fare like this. It’ll be interesting to see what the festival crowds make of it. It opens in wide release on October 4.

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