The New Joker in Gotham: An Argument Against Our Over-Saturated Superhero Culture

Jul 9, 2015 at 12:59 pm |


A photo posted by Cameron Monaghan (@cameronmonaghan) on

Stop and look around you. Can you feel it? We are in the midst of a superhero renaissance in film, television, and video games, and it’s not as super as it sounds.

It started subtly with X-Men in 2000, undoubtedly with the very 90’s Batman movies still in recent memory. Following Spider-Man in 2002, the trend continued steadily throughout the aughts with a series of poorly-received solo superhero spinoffs (I’m looking at you, Daredevil and Hulk.) Suddenly, every summer blockbuster season was sure to include a costumed crusader, courtesy of Marvel or DC but all were only average, if not lackluster.

All of that changed in 2005 with Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Then, suddenly, American superhero movies were at the forefront of all moviegoers’ consciences. Cue the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and I don’t know how many X-Men sequels. Hollywood is bigger and badder than ever before, pumping out endless rolls of film overflowing with action, fight scenes, and testosterone. While this all may be fine and dandy for the average superhero fan like myself, there’s just one problem: where does it all stop?

By 2017, we will have had three different Spider-Men in less than 15 years. A complete reboot (if you can call it that) of the Fantastic Four comes out later this year, only eight years after the last film. The Avengers franchise is monopolizing the superhero scene with the main movies, movie spinoffs, and related shows for TV, all of which are broadening the playing field to overlap countless plots and characters. DC also has its own TV and movie strategy in place, and while the world’s still not over Heath Ledger’s death or Jared Leto being cast as the Joker in Suicide Squad, there’s already a new Joker on the scene, which has us asking: when is it going to end?

Meet Cameron Monaghan, the 21-year-old Will Poulter lookalike who you may recognize from Shameless (where he’s great) or The Giver (where he was not great.) A few months ago, Monaghan appeared as the mysterious Jerome on Gotham, and many fans were quick to assume that he would eventually return to begin the Joker saga on the show. Yesterday (July 8), Monaghan posted an incriminating picture to his Instagram in which he’s standing as if ready for a mugshot, proudly bearing his most devilish—and Jokeresque—grin. I think it’s safe to say that there’s a new Joker in town (again), and yet the real joke is on us.

There are too many superheroes in the proverbial kitchen, and like any similar trend, it’s entirely over-saturated. Who can keep count anymore of all the mutants, all the villains, all the actors simultaneously playing the same character across different channels of media? As Hollywood continues to smother us with superhero movies that are either too noir, too bland, too predictable, the public will only tire of even our greatest fictional saviors, born of comics amidst 20th century crises. As we mindlessly continue to pay for movie tickets and related merchandise, we are overindulging ourselves almost to the point of boredom.

The superhero bubble is bigger than ever, but what’s going to happen when it pops? This genre may once have provided us with an exciting escape into fantasy, but sooner or later, reality is bound to hit us, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive.

Is the superhero renaissance too much? SHARE with your friends and let us know in the comments below.

“Gotham” just rolled out a new Joker, but is the real joke on us?