Gotham: Should The Joker appear in Batman prequel series?


Credit: Warner Bros

The cast of the upcoming Batman prequel series Gotham is starting to come together and so far we’re seeing classic comic book and film characters come to life once again.

But on character has been conspicuously absent from conversations and he happens to be the most well-known character in the comics next to the Caped Crusader. We’re talking, of course, about The Joker who is a menace in Gotham and Batman’s nemesis.

Samantha Highfill from Entertainment Weekly opined last week that The Joker shouldn’t be included in prequel series out of respect to Heath Ledger.

"Talking about the timing of it all, the show could be introducing a new Joker as soon as six years after Ledger stunned audiences, and I’m just not ready for another interpretation. I’m openly admitting that I’m close-minded about this. I don’t want to be, but I’m worried I wouldn’t give another Joker a fair chance."

Highfill states that the sheer epic nature of the iconic performance is still too fresh in our minds to have it challenged by another portrayal. She’s not wrong either, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see The Joker in the new series. 

The question where would be what sort of Joker would we see? There’s the Jack Nicholson version where we saw Jack Napier turn into the Joker and then there’s the Heath Ledger Joker who was unhinged and nameless, with a past as mystery as he was.

If Gotham gives The Joker a backstory — even considering this is unrelated entirely to Ledger’s performance — that may upset fans who are still trying to wash Ledger’s Joker off of them. That Oscar winning performance is still too fresh in our minds.

To play devil’s advocate though, Marlon Brando’s character of Vitto Corleone was brought back to life by Robert De Niro two years after Brando won the Oscar for his work. The result was an Oscar for De Niro, which means it’s possible to build on an iconic performance.

The fact of the matter is we will never forget Ledger’s performance and he will forever be the definitive Joker. But there comes a time when the character will need to be portrayed again, the only question is: when is it no longer too soon?