Jerome/Jeremiah are wholly unique from any previous version of The Joker. Legally, the characters played by Cameron Monaghan in Fox's Gotham are not The Joker. Perhaps Jerome/Jeremiah influenced the man who would one day become The Joker, but the cast and showrunners are allowing their Mr. J character to exist as his own entity, who essentially functions a proto-Joker, if not the man himself. Regardless, Cameron Monaghan's performance has earned praise for offering a unique, unpredictable, and wholly unprecedented take on Batman's single most iconic nemesis.
Regardless of the legal status of The Joker in live-action DC media, Gotham surely still has plenty of surprises in store for their version of The Joker. Gotham is an origin story, but The Joker, famously, doesn't have a single accepted origin story. As the character himself states in the comics, "If I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!”
With this in mind, Gotham has been free to go for broke with telling whatever story they wanted with Jeremiah/Jerome, and it's only going to get crazier during the show's fifth and final season. During our recent visit to the set of Gotham, we spoke to Cameron Monaghan, the actor behind the makeup, scars, and purple hair, who expressed glee at the creative freedom afforded to this version of the character:
It’s heightened and convoluted and strange and slightly beyond what would be normal or acceptable, but I think that works with this character. You want a background where you’re not exactly sure what's up with this guy and what his deal is. The fact that he constantly reinvents himself so much, and he continues to change, he’s this weird, unstable character, it makes a lot of sense for him. I think it’s a cool thing to be able to do.
What Makes Jeremiah/Jerome Different From Other Versions Of The Joker?
Whether or not Jerome/Jeremiah is legally distinct from The Joker, Cameron Monaghan feels Gotham has been a unique opportunity to explore the character:
I think that one of my favorite things about being able to touch The Joker mythos at all, with these two versions of these characters, is, generally, with every performance we’ve seen previously, it’s been a one-off. It’s been in a single movie. There’s never been a continued development. There’s never been full arcs of shifting these people over multiple years. I think that’s something unique I’ve gotten the chance to do.
Indeed, both Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger's performances as The Joker were limited in scope to a single film, in which the character was depicted as the diametric opposite of Batman. Not only does Jerome/Jeremiah get to exist across multiple seasons of television (and, indeed, multiple characters), he also gets to exist independent of Batman himself. But what surprises lay in store for the final season of the series? Monaghan teases even more unexpected twists and turns in the completely unpredictable saga of Mr. J:
Throughout the season, especially by the end, man, it goes places. It’s really f****** cool. That’s one of my favorite things, just to be able to develop these guys and have multiple iterations of this character, and being able to come at it from multiple ways.
No matter what, the Jerome/Jeremiah storyline can be counted on to surprise viewers. While certain characters have predetermined destinies (based on eighty years of Batman comics), Mr. J is not bound by canon in the same way. True to the character's essence, Jerome/Jeremiah is an absolute wildcard. Anything can happen with him. There are no rules. In a way, Warner Bros' silly insistence that the character be legally distinct from The Joker is a boon for the series. Whatever happens, audiences will find out when Gotham returns for season 5, "Legend of the Dark Knight," on January 3.