Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker had its world debut in Venice this weekend, introducing the world to not just its latest iteration on our collective fascination with supervillains, but also a whole host of brain-hostile, internet-wrecking phrases, exquisitely descriptive stuff like—courtesy of Time’s Stephanie Zacharek— “the first incel folk hero”. (We can already feel that one worming its way into Twitter’s DNA, planting little future hot take timebombs as it goes.) And while Phoenix’s most tragic victim so far has pretty much just been our timelines, it’s also not, as it turns out, the first time he’s gone a little power-crazy with a beloved DC Comics character.
We’re indebted to Simon Reynolds for bringing the above clip, from the late ’80s Superboy TV show, to our attention on Twitter. In case it wasn’t clear, that’s Joaquin (then “Leaf”) Phoenix, having already mastered his coveted “staring creepy holes through people” talents (figuratively and literally), as a kid with a very active imagination, and some creative ideas for how Superboy could be applying his powers. (Which is to say, he melts a bully, which does feel like a very teenaged Joaquin Phoenix approach to conflict resolution.) It’s all just a dream, of course, but the episode, “Little Herclues,” does apparently end with his character nearly blowing up a naval submarine in order to impress a girl—who he then gets to hook up with in the end! Ah, the heartwarming, non-influential-on-future-terrible-behaviors narratives of youth.
Joker opens in theaters on October 4; we’re currently expecting the internet as it currently exists to last somewhere into the early hours of October 5.