We knew it was only a matter of time before the Joker reared his iconic head on Gotham, but we couldn’t have predicted that it would happen before the first season concluded. In the past, showrunner Bruno Heller has said that we’d be seeing several potential Clown Princes of Crime as a way to tease the Joker’s future existence, but now he’s stated that the seeds for an actual Joker story will be planted before the current run of episodes comes to an end.
The new plan to include the Joker is something that’s stemmed from Fox’s expansion of the first season. When it was originally conceived, Gotham was supposed to run for 16 episodes. However, after high ratings, Fox pushed that run to 22, meaning that Heller and co. will have to stretch some things out and introduce some new plot points to fill in the extra six hours of television. As such, we’ll be getting hints about the Joker, including the inclusion of the Red Hood Gang.
Speaking with TV Guide, Heller commented on the Joker inclusion by saying:
“We’ve said you’re going to be waiting a bit longer for it, but this is America – nobody wants to wait. So, we will scratch the surface of that story, yes. But just scratch it – a little tap on the door.”
That sentiment is a bit cynical for my tastes, and it’s worrisome because it sounds like Heller is bringing the Joker in this early not for creative reasons, but out of some kind of obligation. Luckily, he stresses the fact that we’ll only be seeing hints of the Joker, and not a fully formed villain. With Bruce Wayne still a long way off from becoming Batman (in both skill and age), I think it would be a huge mistake to bring the actual Joker into the show.
One possible way to hint at the Joker’s future presence in Gotham City is to introduce the Red Hood Gang. In the comics, the Joker actually goes around town as a criminal known as the “Red Hood,” before getting accidentally dropped by Batman into a vat of chemicals. Gotham will adopt the New 52 version of the concept, in the form of the Red Hood Gang, a vicious group of crooks who once controlled Gotham City before they were taken down by an unknown vigilante, who would later be known as Batman. Once they were taken down, Penguin swooped in and gained control of the criminal underworld.
The Red Hood Gang will show up on the series later this month. A synopsis for the February 23rd episode, “Red Hood,” reveals a bit about what we can expect from their small screen debut:
“Following several bank robberies, Gordon and Bullock investigate the Red Hood gang. Selina Kyle continues to bond with Barbara, and Fish Mooney tries to reclaim her position in the underworld in the all-new “Red Hood” episode of GOTHAM airing Monday, Feb. 23”
So, will the actual Joker be a part of the Red Hood Gang? Or will Heller find some other way to drop hints about Batman’s nemesis? Time will tell…
Gotham airs on Monday nights on Fox.