Gotham: Joker Concept Art Shows How the Villains Almost Looked

Gotham Jeremiah Valeska The Joker

The Joker is one of the most distinctively designed characters in modern fiction, with a general aesthetic that's replicated across multiple mediums. Although there are outliers, many of them hold true to a specific look and color scheme, even in the world of Gotham, which offered a totally unique take on the Batman mythology.

That's what makes the evolution of Jeremiah's costumes from Gotham so unique. The original designs actually pushed him closer to different color schemes and designs, only for the show to eventually push him closer to the kind of look most versions of the Joker end up having. Now, we're taking a closer look at how the design of Gotham's Joker evolved from concept art and over the course of the series.

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Who Is Gotham's Joker?

The Joker of Gotham was significantly different than the version who appeared in the comics. There were technically two versions of Joker who appeared across the course of the series, Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska. Technically, neither was actually outright called the Joker. They were separated in their youth after Jeremiah accused his brother of terrifying and abusing him. While Jeremiah was raised in peace and became a talented engineer, Jerome remained with the circus and eventually became a murderer. He targeted people across Gotham City, dying repeatedly only to be revived by Hugo Strange's experiments. He eventually became obsessed with Bruce Wayne, but eventually died when he fell off a building during a scuffle with Wayne and James Gordon.

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But one last trick left by Jerome would technically bring the Joker back in the form of Jeremiah. A specially designed toxin was left for Jeremiah, which corrupted him into an even more dangerous villain than his brother had been. Coupled with his intelligence and his own obsession with Bruce Wayne, Jeremiah attempted to bring down Gotham City so he could attempt to build something better from the ashes, focusing his plans on breaking Bruce.

How He Almost Looked

When Jerome becomes the Joker, he adopts a very specific modern look. The concept art of the character, by artist Robert Christie, imagined a generally purple color scheme for the character. It's a common look for the Joker, but Christie's idea would have modernized the character with a bit more of a fashionable flourish. Some of his suits would introduce flourishes of plaid, much like Jack Nicholson's Joker in Tim Burton's Batman. In fact, the color green (which, along with red and purple are typically the Joker's color palette) is largely absent from Christie's designs for Jeremiah.

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There are hints of lighter colors with his ties, and one of the costumes hints at a bit of green in the interior of the jacket. But largely, the concept designs for the costume features more of a specific light purple. It's a more understated look for the character, befitting his development in the show. But Gotham ultimately went in a different direction with the design of Jeremiah's costume, utilizing part of Christie's design for one look while embracing only elements of the other

What Gotham's Joker Looked Like


The costumes that Jeremiah eventually wore felt more evocative of the Joker. One of his first appearances as the fully formed villain comes with him wearing a variant of the plaid design by Christie. But it only appears briefly before being replaced by a more unique version of the Joker's purple suit, which has shades of Christie's other design. The purple was highlighted but didn't remain the only constant color within the look. While Christie's designs generally lacked green, Jeremiah's look slips an acidic looking shade of the color as his tie. The look takes the idea of multiple fabrics and colors that Christie imagined in plaid and exchanged it into a subtle dimension of his suit.

The changes to Jeremiah's costumes serve as a good distinction from his brother. Jerome's looks, while similar, never went fully into the sense of twisted-but-cultured that Jeremiah's costume choices resulted in.

As the series reached its conclusion however, the costume became more consistently purple and distinctly Joker-y. This all led to the finale, where after a time skip, Jeremiah was heavily-scarred after falling into an acid vat at Ace Chemicals. He wore a glossy and shiny version of a Joker suit that would fit better in comics than Gotham.

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