Say what you want about Gotham and its repurposing of the Batman universe, but Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) has kept us on the edge of our seats. Ever since his first appearance in “The Blind Fortune Teller”, episode 16 of season one, the young man who bears the most semblance to the Joker, has stolen the show. His performance has captivated on such a grand scale that many have declared him a better live-action Joker than Jared Leto’s in Suicide Squad. It’s hard to disagree, because, right now, Jerome is the better Joker of the two.
“But Jared only had less than 10 minutes in Suicide Squad?” That’s true, but he did absolutely nothing in those 10 minutes or less to convince us of his version of the Clown Prince of Crime. In his debut episode, Jerome brought menace, evil, and trickery to the role. By the time he cracked up laughing in the interrogation room, he had us convinced.
Jared, unfortunately, did his best Jim Carrey impressions in his first outing as Mr J, and hasn’t exactly endeared himself, either, by blaming everyone else besides himself for his performance. For someone who went the method-acting route, his understanding of the character was poor to begin with. Does anyone know why he laughed like Ace Ventura? I don’t.
I was one of the few people who defended Jared Leto’s Joker look. For me, it was an interesting take on the character, thinking his tattoos and silver teeth would be explained in the film. But nope. It was just an aesthetic choice. A stupid aesthetic choice, with no explanation except after the film. It’s the equivalent of giving Superman a mask just because.
While Jerome isn’t donning the purple suit or pale face yet, his look and demeanour have been far more Joker-like than Leto’s. Watch the way he moves in “Smile like You Mean It”, episode 13 of season three. Reminiscent to Jack Nicholson’s portrayal and the animated version from Batman: The Animated Series, he encapsulates the character’s playfulness and wickedness concurrently.
The Fear Factor
Jerome has been an adversary for Bruce, Leslie, Alfred, Jim, and the criminals in Gotham. He’s unpredictable, unhinged, a showman, and his endgame is known only to him. Does that remind you of another Joker you may remember? When it comes to chaos, he ups his game and causes havoc in Gotham City. He’s even inspired a cult of followers to raise some anarchy, too.
Leto’s clown was driven by his love for his queen, Harley Quinn. That’s it. For such a formidable foe, he acted like an emo boyfriend rather than one of the greatest supervillains of all time. He could’ve terrorised the squad, taunted Batman, or even destroyed half the city just because he wanted to. But no. We got someone who spent his time trying to recover his girlfriend and threatening people with a Samsung Galaxy Note 7. I’m surprised the last scene of Suicide Squad didn’t have Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” as its closing track.
It appears likely that Leto will get a second chance to reprise his role as the Harlequin of Hate. Hopefully, with a better script and director, he’ll be able to show us why he was the right person for the role. Until then, at least we have Jerome Valeska to keep us company.
Do you think Jerome is a better Joker than Jared Leto’s? Let us know in the comments section below.