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This is no laughing matter: big spoilers ahead for Episode 3 of Season 2 of Gotham.
There is perhaps no Batman villain more infamous than The Joker. So, it was only natural to assume that The Joker would be appearing in some form or other on Fox’s Gotham. Sure, it would take some fudging of the timeline for him to be a villain in the present when the future Batman is still a tween, but an early version of the Joker could join the ranks of the future Riddler and Two-Face as showing up on Gotham. According to showrunner Bruno Heller, however, an incarnation of the Joker on Gotham might not be in the form that most have come to expect of the Clown Prince of Crime. Gotham’s Joker may in fact be a woman.
In an interview with ComicBook, Bruno Heller teased the possibility of a female Joker:
100% possible. One of the central themes of the DC world is transformation and revelation. Absolutely, those kinds of – I wouldn’t want to call it playing with people’s expectations or gender expectations – but we’ve absolutely considered the possibility of a female Joker, and we haven’t…nothing is too strange or too bizarre or too shocking for us to consider.
A Clown Princess of Crime certainly would be a shocker. Although The Joker has been present in some form or other in just about every incarnation of Batman that has graced the small screen, and both Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger turned in wildly different (and unforgettable) performances in the role on the big screen, The Joker at his most evil is always still a man in every medium.
The question of a female Joker on Gotham has arisen after the first few episodes of Season 2 that have seen villains rising and falling in quick succession. Episode 3 saw the shocking death of Jerome Valeska, the young man whom most had assumed to be the Joker in his earliest stages. Actor Cameron Monaghan combined elements from many of the most famous Jokers, and he positively nailed the evil laugh. His death pretty conclusively nipped that theory in the bud, but it also drew attention toward Barbara Kean.
Barbara – who became vastly more interesting after she made the turn from Jim Gordon’s fiancée to villainess – has been showing signs that she has a streak of the Joker inside of her. Between some admiration for the fallen Jerome and her own version of a crazy grin in Season 2, the possibility of a female Joker played by Barbara Kean has begun to feel all too deliciously possible.
Of course, given that the third episode ended with lowlifes of Gotham being inspired by footage of Jerome’s laughter to begin their own killing sprees, we may be in for a whole lineup - male and female – of Jokers in the future of Gotham.