Gotham has revealed its final Joker design, and while the reaction online has been fairly negative, the look works well enough within the context of the show. With only two episodes remaining, Gotham's time on television is almost over and arguably the most complex character to feature throughout the series' has been Gotham's version of iconic Batman villain, the Joker.
Played by Cameron Monaghan, first as Jerome Valeska and then as his twin brother Jeremiah, Gotham's Joker has been defined by a lingering uncertainty but, as the seasons went by, Monaghan's villain took on more and more Jokerish traits until the connection was impossible to ignore.
Jeremiah has been a leading antagonist in Gotham's final season: bombing the city's bridges to create No Man's Land, finding his very own Harley Quinn, and blowing up Wayne Manor just to spite Bruce. However, it was the young billionaire who enjoyed the last laugh, as Gotham adapted a common Joker origin story and Jeremiah fell into a vat of chemicals after a fist fight with Bruce on a precariously balanced walkway. The disfigured villain has been out of commission ever since, but Gotham was keen to mention the possibility of him waking up at some point in the future.
That point will apparently arrive just in time for Gotham's final episode, which will take the form of a flash-forward into a future where Bruce Wayne has finally become the Batman. Unfortunately, Joker's visual design for this final crime spree is attracting a negative online response, but could Gotham have realistically come up with anything better?
In anticipation of its forthcoming finale, Gotham released a poster and short trailer teasing the show's final Joker look. The design gives Jeremiah new mottled, white skin resulting from his recent chemical bath, and some wispy green-tinged strands of hair. There's the familiar thin, red-lipped smile but also a pair of bulging, monstrous eyes that make the character seem less human. The costume treads far more familiar territory, with a purple overcoat worn over a shirt, tie and leather gloves.
The design received a decidedly mixed reception from Batman fans online, with some believing the image to be an April Fool's joke due to the release date. As with many instances of live-action comic book backlash, much of the criticism revolved around the stark differences between Gotham's Joker and the traditional version of the character. Certainly, Monaghan's latest look is more haggard, inhuman and worn than previous Joker iterations, without any of the suaveness, charisma or clown influences that often crop up, but despite being a more unique visual take on the Joker, Gotham's latest design does perhaps make sense in the context of the series.
Firstly, it's important to consider that even though Jeremiah is the Joker, Gotham still hasn't referred to Monaghan's character by that infamous name. The actor himself previously explained that the Fox series has actually been prohibited both from using the "Joker" title, and from including certain key visual cues such as striking green hair. With such restrictions in place, it's perhaps understandable that Gotham would take their Joker in a wildly different direction, as trying to deliver a traditional version of the character with certain ingredients missing would be a wholly uninspiring venture for both the show and its fans.
Another reason why Gotham's final Joker design could still succeed is the natural affinity actor Cameron Monaghan has shown in the role. The character design may have caused a stir for introducing a somewhat radical take on the villain, but those who watched the accompanying trailer would have found themselves in far more familiar territory. The clip sees Monaghan deliver a typically deranged Joker cackle as a Batarang sinks into his hand and he speaks with a cadence reminiscent of Mark Hamill's acclaimed voice performances. Gotham's Joker designs may divide opinion but, since the show's very first season, Monaghan has captivated in the role and earned plenty of plaudits from fans. Even if the appearance isn't to everyone's taste, there's no reason to believe that Monaghan won't continue to impress.
The reveal of Gotham's final Joker was probably also hampered by Warner Bros. releasing the first trailer for Joaquin Phoenix's Joker movie almost immediately after. This visceral, R-rated take on Joker's origin story has truly captured fans' imaginations and the unveiling of Phoenix's full look only piqued interest further. Naturally, the huge new development from Hollywood put Gotham's own Joker announcement firmly in the shade.
The criticism of Gotham's final Joker look is understandable, and in any other Batman medium would probably also be justified, but it's difficult to see how Gotham could improve on it without either exceeding their boundaries or repeating a design from an earlier season.
Gotham season 5 continues with "They Did What?" April 18th on Fox.