'Gotham' Creator Bruno Heller on Introducing the Joker Storyline

Gotham showrunner Bruno Heller on introducing the Joker story

[SPOILERS for Gotham Season 1, Episode 16 ahead.]


Bruno Heller's darkly offbeat crime procedural Gotham has not only begun to explore the early years of Jim Gordan's (Ben McKenzie) time working for the Gotham City Police Department, but also introduced a number of future Batman villains well before they adapted their iconic antagonist personas. Last night's episode 'The Blind Fortunate Teller' (written by Heller) marked the official start of the Joker storyline on the show, but even afterwards the question remains: Is Cameron Monaghan's Jerome, in fact, the future Clown Prince of Crime?

Well, considering that Jerome broke out into Joker-esque maniacal laughter after admitting to Gordon that he was the one responsible for killing his mother, the obvious answer would be "yes" - especially seeing as Gotham isn't exactly known for subtly, when it comes to foreshadowing the fates of certain characters (see: Edward Nygma (Corey Michael Smith) carrying around his question mark-bearing coffee cup). What's more interesting for now, perhaps, is the question surrounding what connection Jerome has to the Red Hood gang, who will make their debut on the TV show next week.

Heller, in an interviewed published by E! Online yesterday, declined to confirm whether Jerome will one day become the Joker - after Bruce Wayne (played by David Mazouz) grows up and creates his famous vigilante alter ego - or, rather, if the young psycho is connected to the super-villain in some other fashion. Rather, Heller re-iterated what he's said before: that Gotham will be sticking to the Batman comic book canon by not having the Clown Prince rear his head before the Caped Crusader rises to power... but that the Joker is, in fact, on his way.

I can tell you this is a long game plan and a long story that we are telling here. What I can promise you is this is not a bait-and-switch. This is not someone who is just a character who is going to disappear. This is not a red herring. It's the beginning of the story of how the Joker came to be, how the Joker was created, where he came from, who he is. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that Cameron Monaghan is the Joker. He might be. But like I say, this is a story that begins about seven or eight years before the actual Joker arrives on the scene in his fully-fledged persona. As we're telling with all of these characters, the origin story of that villain begins [with 'The Blind Fortune Teller'].

Gotham Young Joker Trailer Reveal
Cameron Monaghan as Jerome on 'Gotham'

The master criminal known as Red Hood was also the man who would become Joker, when the character was introduced in comic book form back in the 1950s. There have been variations on that idea in the DC comic universe - most famously, Alan Moore's "Batman: The Killing Joke" provided an alternative take on Joker's origin story and his identity before he took on the role of the Red Hood.

All the same, with Red Hood about to make their debut on Gotham, now does seem the proper time for at least a hint about the Joker storyline - something that Heller agrees with, as it were:

It just seemed like the right moment in the season to, as the season is moving towards its conclusion and as we are setting up for next season, this just seemed like the right moment. Early on, it would have been a mistake. We had other stories to tell and we wanted this season to be about the emergence of the Penguin and Gordon's rise. This appearance of Cameron is the beginning of the third act that will lead us toward the next chapter.

The plot threads concerning Gordon adjusting to life in Gotham City have served as the heart of Gotham thus far, but it's been the Gotham City mobster wars that have truly carried the show through its weak patches in season one. However, that conflict has cooled recently, ever since Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith) was exiled from Gotham City - and Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) having formally become one of Carmine Falcone's (John Doman) underlings, after nearly winding up dead as a result of his double agent dealings.

Gotham TV Red Hood Episode

The arrival of the Red Hood gang combined with Fish possibly looking to make an alliance with her captor - the mysterious Dr. Francis Dulmacher (Colm Feore) - suggests the criminal underworld of Gotham City is on its way to becoming a bit more anarchic, over the course of the remaining episodes of Gotham season one (and by the time season two will pick up later this year). Similarly, now that Bruce is bringing the fight to corrupt executives at Wayne Enterprises, law and order in Gotham City are going to become all the more difficult to maintain.

If so, then now might well be the perfect time to lay the foundation for Joker's arrival on the Gotham TV show. Chaos is kinda his thing, after all.


Gotham continues next Monday with 'Red Hood' at 8/7c on Fox. Watch a preview for the episode, below:

Source: E! Online

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