Gotham's Joker: How the Show Changed the Ultimate Villain

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With Gotham's impending series finale, Batman is finally about to go up against the Joker that the series has teased for so long. Cameron Monaghan's stint as Jerome Valeska left everyone eager for the Clown Prince of Crime, and when he died, the series threw viewers for a loop even further by introducing the possibility this criminal was destined to be his twin, Jeremiah.

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However, now Jeremiah is finally on the path to wearing the paint, albeit it's a very different journey than what we've seen in decades of DC Comics. With that in mind, let's look at how Gotham warped reshaped a Joker for a new generation.

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After a traumatic and abusive childhood, Jeremiah abandoned his family, changed his name to "Xander Wilde" and became an engineer, so he literally helped build Gotham. But the psychopathic Jerome simply couldn't let go of his older brother and kept hunting him to torture him. Eventually, Jerome fell to his death, but he left Jeremiah a parting gift that would catalyze the latter's descent into madness.

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This came in the shape of a Jack-in-the-Box, which ended up spraying poisonous gas into Jeremiah's face, unlocking the darkness he always held within, just like Jerome. It was Jeremiah's first step off the edge, because as his skin turned pale on the outside, dementia was setting in on the inside. A deranged Jeremiah embraced his fate, deciding the best way to break away from his brother's shadow was by blowing up Gotham to rebuild it, hoping Bruce Wayne would join him along the way as a kindred spirit.


Jeremiah used Ecco and Jerome's Cult as his minions in this explosive scheme, but after Jim Gordon captured Jeremiah and took him into the Gotham Police Department,  Jeremiah's real ally was revealed to be Ra's al Ghul. The Demon's Head kept corrupting Jeremiah towards the principles of the League of Shadows, because he felt Jeremiah could be the evil successor Bruce wasn't going to be.

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This stood in stark contrast to Jerome, who went even more insane in Arkham, whereas Jeremiah was losing his mind by meeting and greeting other key players. As he tipped over the edge, he tried to kill Selina Kyle in the process in the hopes of breaking Bruce mentally and turning him into the evil brother he always wanted. Bruce, as expected, resisted, and in a brutal confrontation, he joined Gordon, Barbara Kean and Penguin in fighting the League. They thought they saved the day as Ra's ended up dying, but sadly, Jeremiah's final hand was already in motion, with bombs going off across Gotham leading to the "No Man's Land" setting this final season is focused on.


Eventually, Jeremiah escaped the melee and tried to remain hidden, even faking his death at Selina's hands. However, this was all to help him stay off the grid so he could capture and torture an unsuspecting Alfred, all as one final act to punish Bruce by making him relive his parents' deaths. He even had Jim and Lee Thomkins play the Waynes, making Bruce pay by watching his friends in the roles that haunted him for decades. Thankfully, Bruce overcame the theatrics which led to that definitive showdown at Ace Chemicals.

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Finally, at this chemical plant, Gotham pretty much follows Batman: The Killing Joke (where the Red Hood fell into a vat of chemicals) and Tim Burton's 1989 Batman movie, by having Jeremiah accidentally fall into a vat of green fluid in a scuffle with Bruce. When it's all over, he's rendered comatose and is badly scarred, leaving Bruce to basically consider him dead. But as we know, Jeremiah's third personality is going to emerge and from the teasers so far, this final levelseems to be the full-blown Joker that we've been waiting for, ready to unleash chaos and anarchy like never before.

Returning Thursday, April 18 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, Gotham stars Ben McKenzie as James Gordon, Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne, Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin, Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle, Erin Richards as Barbara Kean, Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth and Shane West as Bane.

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