SPOILER WARNING: This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for last week’s Gotham, “That’s Entertainment.”
There are two types of Joker fans. There are those who agree that the character is best served as a mysterious shadow, a question mark whose origins should never be revealed, whose past should be marred by a myriad of possible answers. It was the case for the very first appearance of the Clown Prince of Crime in 1940’s Batman #1, and it was also the case for Christopher Nolan’s version of the character in the 2008 movie The Dark Knight.
But there are also those who adhere to the character’s most popular origin — that of a man, down on his luck, who fell down a vat of chemicals when Batman failed to save him. Such an origin was made popular thanks to Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke, Tim Burton’s first Batman movie as well the more modern Batman: Zero Year comic by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. But last night on Gotham, the Fox series gave us an entirely new origin for the Joker — one which veers away from the popular “vat of chemicals” story, but also one that manages to stay true to its theme: the Joker was, inadvertently, created by Bruce Wayne.
In the somewhat generally accepted comic book origin of the Joker, the man who would become the Joker was a low-level criminal disguised as the Red Hood. During a heist at Axe Chemicals, Batman showed up to foil the robbery. Through fate or happenstance, the Red Hood fell over the ramp, and Batman failed to rescue him. He fell in to the vat of toxic chemicals, and the Joker, complete with bleached skin, green hair and a permanent smile, was born. This origin tied the Joker and Batman together, the latter taking part of the blame in the creation of his worst enemy, and one of the reasons the characters are so tangentially tied.
While none of these events are on display in Gotham‘s “That’s Entertainment,” we did see Joker go through an origin that could lead Bruce Wayne to blame himself for his part in the creation of Gotham’s most nefarious criminal. The episode saw Jerome Valeska terrorize an outside concert venue in the middle of of the ciry. The scarred madman introduces the crowd to his kidnapped victims, each outfitted with a personal bomb necklace. However, the villain has two empty chairs on his stage; one reserved for his twin brother Jeremiah and the other, Bruce Wayne.
Gordon goes to Bruce first. With his thirst for heroism present, Bruce doesn’t hesitate to answer Gordon’s call. But Jeremiah is a different story. Jerome’s twin wants nothing to do with his brother. He would rather stay safe in his private office, and far away from him. While it seems he can’t be budged, a friendly and inspiring speech about standing up to terror, as delivered by Bruce Wayne, convinces Jeremiah to put his life on the line and face his brother.
With the presence of these last two victims, the GCPD finds an opening and manage to take Jerome down. Bruce and Jeremiah part as friendly acquaintances who plan on working together in the future, and Jeremiah heads home, to his private office. Only there, he finds a gift waiting for him, seemingly delivered by Wayne Enterprises. However, when opened, the gift douses Jeremiah with Laughing Gas, and the Joker is born.
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