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I'm the answer to your life's questions! Without me, you're just a joke... without a punch line.
~ Jeremiah Valeska breaks down in front of Bruce Wayne shortly before falling into a vat of acidic chemicals.
We’re bound together he and I, it's the one this I knew for certain... the one thing I knew was true.
~ Jeremiah Valeska.
Jeremiah Valeska, also known as Xander Wilde and "The Joker" in some promotional media, is one of the main villains of the TV series Gotham, acting as the one of the five main antagonists of the fourth season (alongside Ra's al Ghul, Jerome Valeska, Oswald Cobblepot, and Sofia Falcone) and one of the three main antagonists of the fifth and final season (alongside Nyssa al Ghul and The Penguin), serving as the main antagonist of the finale. He is Jerome Valeska's twin brother.
He was portrayed by Cameron Monaghan, who also portrayed Jerome Valeska in the show.
You're more sick than your brother!
~ Harvey Bullock to Jeremiah Valeska.
Even before becoming J, Jeremiah was quite the suspicious individual. Aside from being the brother of one of Gotham's most notorious criminals, even in his younger days he had a unique interest in designing plans for mazes and traps, and even Jerome claims that Jeremiah is actually crazy like himself, just too afraid to let it show. It is shown that Jeremiah had been dishonest about his brother's attempts to murder him, although he claimed that everyone knew Jerome certainly wanted to do it. He also displays a disturbingly calm manner when held at gunpoint by Gordon and lies about his past with his brother as well as keeps him contained without caring about the GCPD's consent.
If Jeremiah was psychopathic before being exposed to toxin, he did everything he could to hide it in comparison to his brother, who felt as though his revenge on Jeremiah should be to forcefully expose his psychosis by means of laughing gas. Jeremiah would later state that while the gas caused some cosmetic changes, it had not changed his mentality, meaning that Jerome was telling the truth and he is as insane as his brother, though he continues to deny that he is insane, stating he is completing Jerome's plans in a more 'sane' manner. Jeremiah claimed that he was “at war” with his true self, implying that he didn't want to be like Jerome and tried to resist his temptations.
After Jeremiah causes the events of no man's land, he becomes more unhinged, which according to Cameron Monaghan, is due to a newfound ego from the success of his previous plan. Unlike his personality in season 4, where he never laughs, he is seen laughing to himself whilst overseeing his digging operation, and chuckling when seeing the result of Bruce Wayne's false parents.
At first Jeremiah seemed to care about Ecco as he refused to leave her behind and showed relief when he realized she was safe. Even though she had been hypnotized by Jervis Tetch, he still tried to get through to her to the point where she almost brought him straight to Jerome. After Jeremiah was driven insane and developed his obsession with Bruce; their relationship got more complicated. While he seemed to have taken a romantic interest in Ecco and trusted her to carry out his plans, he also was slightly abusive towards her, grabbing her by the throat and face roughly on two separate occasions. After she shot herself in the head to prove her loyalty to him, Jeremiah would have her manipulate the bullet inside her head of get rid of any feelings or sentimentality towards him.
When Ecco was stabbed by Barbara Kean, Jeremiah did slightly react and appear to be affected by it as he just stared at her for a few seconds with wide eyes and his mouth slightly open. He called her his dear sweet Ecco and said there will never be one like her, but it is unknown if he really meant what he said to her because after he killed her, he then said he supposes there are other fish in the sea. It is equally possible that due to how insane and evil he has become, he could easily just detach his emotions from Ecco after killing her, though he did immediately smack Barabra across the face of with a look of malice on his face, almost as if he was mad at her for stabbing Ecco, which then made him feel like he had to kill her in his twisted mind.
Jerome wanted to turn Gotham into a madhouse. But to truly build something, you must first tear down what is already there.
~ Jeremiah Valeska to Bruce Wayne and the Cult of Jerome.
Don't compare me to that short-sighted psychopath. He just wanted to destroy things. Me... I'm a builder. I'm gonna create a new Gotham in my image, but every artist needs a blank canvas... so all of this has to go.
~ Jeremiah to Harvey Bullock.
Six hours, Detective. The clock is ticking!
~ Jeremiah Valeska to Harvey Bullock.
That is a self-perpetuating generator. It can store a phenomenal amount of energy. I would hate to be within a mile of it if it were to overload.
~ Jeremiah, reflecting on the destructive capabilities of his generators.
You're right, you know; I did fail. I didn't yet understand the vision I was servicing, but... I do now. My eyes are open, as will yours be. When you've realized I'm not bluffing, bring me Bruce Wayne.
~ Jeremiah Valeska to Jim Gordon.
My brother once said all it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. Jerome gave me what I thought was the worst day of my life. But only by losing everything was I able to face what was inside me. And I believe I've seen something very special - inside of you as well. But, to free it, you'll have to lose everything and everyone you hold dear.
~ Jeremiah Valeska to Bruce Wayne.
Let's reach inside and dig a little deeper, shall we? Because that's the only way you're all making it out of this hole.
~ Jeremiah Valeska to his cult.
If I can't have you as a brother bonded by love, then we'll just have to be bonded by hatred.
~ Jeremiah Valeska to Bruce Wayne.
Bruce: Jeremiah! This ends, tonight! Jeremiah: No... no, Bruce. Now it begins!
~ Jeremiah and Bruce before their final showdown at Ace Chemicals.
Oh, dear me. My sweet Ecco. No longer my echo. There will never be one like you... But, I suppose there are other fish in the sea
~ Jeremiah says to a dying Ecco before finishing her off, and then implying he’ll eventually replace her.
Jeremiah's transformation and breaking into laughter is similar to The Joker's breakdown in The Killing Joke following his transformation. He even clutches his head in a very similar way.
Jeremiah's motive to drive Bruce Wayne insane, and his method of doing so, is similar to how Joker tried to drive Commissioner Gordon insane after crippling his daughter.
Additionally, he shoots Selina Kyle in a similar manner to how the Joker shot Barbara Gordon.
Jeremiah is similar to Tim Drake from Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, who was transformed into the new Clown Prince of Crime following the original Joker's demise in order to continue his legacy.
Jeremiah is the youngest version of "The Joker", being around 21-22 years old at the time of his transformation. Also, this version comes before Bruce Wayne becomes Batman.
This version of Joker is the fourth version to appear on television: the first was in the campy 1960s Adam West Batman television series in which he was played by Cesar Romero; the second was in one of the six Batman OnStar commercials which ran from 2000 to 2002, in which he was played by Curtis Armstrong; and the third was a cameo appearance in the 2002-2003 series Birds of Prey, in which he was played physically by Roger Stoneburner and voiced by Mark Hamill.
Jeremiah Valeska is the third incarnation of Joker (fourth if you count Jerome who is heavily influenced by the character) to have an established backstory and identity, with the first one being Jack Nicholson's Joker in the 1989 Batman film and the second the Martha Wayne version of the Joker from the 2011 "Flashpoint" crossover story arc, in which she was Joker in an alternative universe where Bruce Wayne was dead (having been killed by the mugger) and Thomas Wayne as Batman.
Make-up tests for Jeremiah's appearance in "The Beginning..." strongly resemble the Batman: Endgame and Joker interpretations of the Joker.
Jeremiah's Joker outfit shown by the promotional pictures bears a great resemblance to the outfit of Jack Nicholson's Joker from the 1989 Batman film.
Due to rights issues down to Warner Brothers wanting to reserve Joker for their major DC film projects, limitations were set on the character of Jeremiah, such as him not being able to use the name "Joker" or even have bright green hair, which was stated by actor Cameron Monaghan. Instead, Jeremiah has very dark green hair, although this makes him similar to the DC Animated Universe Joker who has the same shade of color. This decision was not received well and led to a small campaign called #LetGothamUseJoker.
In a post on Cameron Monaghan's Twitter account in which he made reference to the fact anyone in the show could be the Joker (in reply to fans who were not happy that Jeremiah Valeska was possibly not the Joker), he acknowledged the Jerome look-alike from the end of season 2 and referred to him as a "hinted clone" and that he could be destined to become the Joker. https://twitter.com/hc20171998/status/995795872041652225
Jeremiah's cold and calculating demeanor makes him similar to the Golden Age Joker and also the version from the Frank Miller comic The Dark Knight Returns, making him a contrast to the more impulsive and visibly insane Jerome.
While Jeremiah may have been insane prior to being sprayed by his brother's toxin, he seemed to show no bias toward Bruce Wayne or Gotham City (even though he could've saved the lives of citizens using information from Jerome's diary). This might suggest that the toxin didn't just alter Jeremiah's appearance, but also twisted his morality.
It is possible that Jeremiah's stories about Jerome being a psychopath as a child are fictional and purely a ploy to get sympathy from those around him.
This could indicate that either both brothers were normal kids and that Jeremiah was extremely paranoid about Jerome's possible future behavior, or that Jeremiah was responsible for torturing Jerome in his youth and committed many of the crimes for which he held Jerome responsible when discussing his childhood to Jim Gordon. If the latter is correct, this would make Jerome more of a sympathetic character.
The contradictions in Jeremiah's stories are clearly inspired by the Joker’s, who is known to change his backstory several times, most often to invoke sympathy (case in point when he lied to Harley Quinn about having an abusive childhood).
Jeremiah has never officially been confirmed to be the Joker and whether he is or not has been left up to fan interpretation. The writers do drop a couple of Easter eggs in the series finale for him becoming the Joker. After Jeremiah kills Ecco, he remarks that there are other fish in the sea, foreshadowing Harley Quinn. When Jeremiah refuses to be acknowledged by his name, he admits he can’t decide on what to be called. The fact that Jeremiah has to discard his own name foreshadows him possibly taking the name of the Joker.