Is 'Gotham' Preparing for the Joker's Arrival?

Gotham 1x16 Promo Still - H 2015
Courtesy of FOX

Gotham 1x16 Promo Still - H 2015

The joke’s on Gotham — maybe.

The promo for next week’s episode of the Fox drama based on DC Entertainment’s Batman mythos offers a fairly strong hint that the Joker might be about to make his debut, with Shameless breakout Cameron Monaghan appearing as a character with a particularly disturbing laugh after a tagline teasing that “Gotham’s next villain is no joke.”

Does this mean that Monahan will play the Clown Prince of Crime on the series? Warner Bros. Television, which produces the show, declined comment on the role. However, longtime Batman fans might have noticed that the series is certainly hinting that something is going on when it comes to the Joker: The episode scheduled for Feb. 23 is titled “Red Hood,” which was the costumed identity of the Joker before the accident that turned his skin white in comic book mythology.

The Red Hood, however, might be a red herring. In current DC Comics continuity, the Red Hood Gang is a group of identically dressed bank robbers led by a man who later became the Joker. Whether or not Jerome, Monaghan’s character, will turn out to be the Joker or merely a Red Hood member with a perverse sense of humor remains open to speculation.

Certainly, showrunner Bruno Heller has teased the possibility in the past, telling reporters ahead of Gotham's debut that the show would be "playing with ... not just with Joker" in upcoming episodes. (There's even a school of thought that there have been Joker teases in every episode of the show to date). If the Joker does show up, he'll join a rogues' gallery of familiar comic book villains who have appeared in the series to date, including the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, Poison Ivy and the Scarecrow, along with less well-known bad guys like Victor Zsasz.

Gotham airs Mondays on Fox. What do you think? Is it too soon for Gotham to introduce the Joker? Sound off in the comments section below.