Warning: Spoilers for Gotham ahead. Read on at your own risk.
Last month, Gotham executive producer John Stephens confirmed that Cameron Monaghan would return for Season 3 as Jerome Valeska, the twisted psycho who's been teased as a young version of the Joker. Jerome was killed during Season 2, though Easter Eggs showed he could return in a big way. That seem clear based on Stephens's statement, as the producer revealed the show will actually develop the cult of the Joker before Jerome's return.
Get ready for Gotham Season 3 with the trailer below:
You'd think it would take some time to build up a cult, but Monaghan's hinted that his return may be sooner than we thought. The actor shared a 15-second audio clip on Twitter yesterday, uttering the phrase "Hello Gotham" in his sinister Jerome voice before launching into a maniacal laugh that proves he has what it takes to bring Joker to life.
Whether or not Jerome becomes Gotham's version of the iconic villain, Monaghan's portrayal of the character has certainly generated buzz about the Clown Prince of Crime and his potential inclusion on the show. The Joker might be Batman's archenemy, but Gotham has taken no loss for excluding him in its past two seasons. In fact, the mystery around Jerome's return makes us wonder if Gotham actually needs the Joker in order to be a good adaptation of the Batman mythology.
Gotham Hasn't Suffered Without The Joker
Despite Gotham's focus on the origins of infamous Batman villains, the series has done remarkably well without even mentioning his greatest adversary. Outside of the Jerome character — who creators have repeatedly claimed is not the actual Joker — there has been no mention of the character. Instead, Gotham focuses on a select few criminals, most notably Robin Lord Taylor's terrific interpretation of Oswald Cobblepot, a.k.a. the Penguin.
Unlike the comic books, this version of the Penguin started at the very bottom of the criminal food chain before working his way up the ranks. And while most comic book interpretations are pretty sane, Gotham's version of Cobblepot is a ruthless murderer with psychotic tendencies, even though he's still a criminal mastermind. This highlights that while the show is based on the Batman mythos, its creators are allowed free to devise new origins for classic characters, and as a result the show is full of originality. This deviation from the comic books provides an unpredictable element to the show. We might know the characters from the comics, but this time they're wildly reinterpreted for television.
Even Gotham's young Catwoman is full of unpredictability. Selina Kyle's origin story has been completely refreshing and, with the exception of a few little nods like her nickname being "Cat," her future remains unclear to viewers familiar with Batman history. She could grow up to be the criminal cat burglar we all know, or she might become Bruce Wayne's greatest ally in his war against crime. With each passing episode, it becomes more apparent that the Batman villains Gotham has introduced rival their comic book counterparts, and I've never felt as if the show was missing something because of the absence of the Joker.
Are you a Gotham fan? Check these out for more:
- Do We Already Know Gotham Season 3's Main Plotline?
- Gotham Season 3 May Bring The Biggest Changes Yet
- The Non-Problem In Gotham: Why The Show Makes More Sense Than You Think
Could The Joker Overshadow Other Characters?
Including the Joker in Gotham could be a risky move for the creative minds behind the show because, let's face it, The Joker is the biggest villain of all time and his popularity could potentially hurt the other characters. He might be the bad guy, but he's equally as popular as the Caped Crusader and history has shown that his presence can over shadow even our favorite hero.
Take Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy as an example. It consists of three great films, yet many hold Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker in 2008's The Dark Knight of the three films as the greatest thing about the trilogy. Ledger's performance has become synonymous with the deranged criminal character, so much so that some contend he's the greatest Joker of all time across comics, movies and TV. Looking back, the success of this portrayal has overshadowed the entire film with other characters, including Batman himself, becoming less significant.
We can also see the negative effects of the character's popularity when we look at Jared Leto's performance in Suicide Squad. There was so much hype put on his take on the character that the fans were quick to blast Leto and the movie when his role was revealed to be rather minimal. The Joker is one of DC's greatest villains, but he tarnished Suicide Squad with a subplot that was pretty insignificant. And it didn't help that Warner Bros. banked on the Joker's popularity to boost the film's marketing, featuring him heavily in trailers and other promotional materials. Leto could be a great Joker, we just didn't get enough of a chance to find out. The psychotic clown might be beloved, but Suicide Squad shows he just isn't the right fit for every project.
Gotham is very much an ensemble show and, while Jim Gordon might be its main character the show relies on multiple narratives to drive each season. If the Joker is introduced to the series, there's a large possibility that other characters and their narratives will suffer. The Joker's bound to be included at some point, but the development of the other villains has allowed lesser known characters like Dr. Hugo Strange, Azrael and Barbra Kean to shine. If and when the villainous clown does arrive, the showrunners need handle the character carefully and make sure they're faithful to the show's ensemble feel.
If Gotham Uses The Joker, It Must Be Jerome
I cannot put into words how much Cameron Monaghan has blown me away with his performance as Jerome Velaska. The performance really works because Monaghan never tries to replicate any previous Joker adaptations even though he seems like an obvious precursor to the villain.. The character has only ever been seen as Jerome, and the showrunners have never promised that he'll become the Joker. In fact, they've denied that Jerome would become the iconic bad guy, calling him more of a "proto-Joker" than the real deal.
Any doubts I had about the Joker being included on the show were set aside when Monaghan first appeared. Not only is his laugh perfect, but Monaghan's able to capture the character's twisted sense of humor and fun. Jerome has allowed Gotham to carefully develop a potential new original origin story for the Joker while still continuing to develop the other characters. And even after the character's death, the seeds were being sown for his return.
Throughout the second season, there were many signs that the psychotic kid had left a lasting impression on Gotham City and its residents. From the "HA HA HA" symbols spray painted around the city to Jerry, the female Joker, it's obvious that the creators were planning Jerome's return the whole time, and denial from producers hasn't stopped fans from speculating that Monaghan's return means Jerome will become the Joker. The inevitable resurrection of the character could lead to some great storylines for the show and some great moments for Monaghan. Personally, I'd love to see Jerome face off against Penguin, battling for ownership of the city.
The Joker's origin is often ambiguous, but Gotham has crafted with a completely new and original story that allowed us to fall in love with a character that has no obligation to become the Joker. Monaghan became one the best things about the show, and despite my initial hesitations about the inclusion of the Joker I was saddened when the character met his end. But with his return on the horizon, I'm excited to see what storylines will be explored and, more importantly, whether or not Jerome will become the infamous Jester of Genocide. I would be disappointed if anyone else was cast as the Joker, as Monaghan has so much potential for the role.
Gotham doesn't need the Joker right now — it needs Jerome. And his return will provide producers with the opportunity to continue planting the seeds for the birth of the Joker.
Gotham Season 3 premieres on September 19 on Fox. Do you think the show will improve with Jerome's return? Tell me in the comment section below.