There’s no doubt that Gotham Knights finds itself in a tricky situation. The CW is doing all it can to give the show a fighting chance by stacking it with Superman and Lois but there’s only so much that show can do, especially when even that program is seeing a dip in viewership. Add that to the fact that The CW’s Arrowverse is nearing its end with the ninth season of The Flash coming to a close and the station that once was a mecca for superhero content is fading away. The Batgirl drama that unfolded amid its surprise cancelation also hasn’t left a good taste in the mouths of potential viewers, either. Yet, Gotham Knights has a unique take on everything we know about Gotham City. For starters, there’s no Batman.
Bruce Wayne is dead, and this is a world where comic characters who never really had a chance to shine and even some made-for-TV characters blend together to form a Riverdale-esque murder mystery plot. There’s also the performance of Olivia Rose Keegan as Duela Dent that, if anything else, makes Gotham Knights worth checking out. Keegan has built up an impressive resume in her young career, but the early response to her latest role has her set up for plenty of future success. There’s a level of creativity, freedom, and talent that can all be exuded in any role pertaining to The Joker, be it as the man himself or an adjacent role, and Keegan has clearly immersed herself into the part of his daughter.
Olivia Rose Keegan Clearly is Enjoying The Joker Insider Her Character
For anyone unfamiliar with this character, the last name may suggest something else. Harvey Dent, who is played by Misha Collins, is the most famous with this surname in the Batman lore. He eventually goes on to become Two-Face, one of the Caped Crusader’s most famous villains. This Duela is the descendent of The Joker, just as she was first introduced in the comics in Batman Family #6 (1976). She’s a complex character just like her father as her origins are all over the place, namely of her own doing. She has claimed to be the daughter of nearly all of Batman’s antagonists, from Catwoman to Penguin and The Riddler. This is all part of the ethos of this complicated figure For this series, it’s the Joker she embodies and Keegan does all she can to give off those vibes.
There are multiple points in the first two episodes that have aired and over the upcoming season where Keegan taps into her father’s makeup. Where the show takes risks in making a Gotham show without a Batman and bringing in a non-comic character in Turner Hayes (Oscar Morgan) who is Batman’s adopted son, which the series makes up for in its Duela casting. Keegan is the most decorated of the young cast as she owns a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Younger Performer in a Drama Series for her work on Days of Our Lives (she also touts two nominations in the category). This is among her biggest roles to date, and she wastes no time stepping into the shoes of Duela.
Olivia Rose Keegan Presents an Unpredictable Persona
The first scene we see her involved in is a break-in at Wayne Manor, though they later find out someone beat them to the punch, and he’s been murdered. There are certain moments where she exhibits the Joker’s mannerisms, like looking at her reflection through Bruce Wayne’s nameplate to the creepy, longing stare at the “.38 caliber cutie” she pulls from the safe. Within 10 minutes of Gotham Knights an iconic callback to Heath Ledger’s Joker sticking his head out the window in The Dark Knight is seen. Duela puts on a Gotham City Police Department Hat, sticks her head out the window, and lets out a maniacal chuckle that would make her father proud.
There’s a later scene in Episode 1 where Harvey Dent pulls out a Joker card and places it on the table as he begins to question Duela after being connected as a potential suspect in Bruce Wayne’s death. As Dent is attempting to get her to admit to what he believes she did (she is innocent), Duela cleverly twists the words he uses to spin it back on him before delivering a smirk and a head lean that once again shows how dialed into this role she is. Once she gets started as the daughter of this villain, Keegan doesn’t take her foot off the pedal. Gotham Knights may not be a perfect show nor one that came out at the right time, but Keegan is giving it her all. As long as The CW can keep this series going, Keegan should be able to put together an impressive breakthrough performance.
Olivia Rose Keegan is Set Up for Success with This Role
With Gotham Knights needing all the boost it can get, it doesn’t take long to scroll through social media and see how many people are commenting on Keegan’s Duela. There are many viewers who have latched onto this character, and that’s because of how effective the former Disney Channel star has been in her delivery. There’s something special about anything relating to The Joker. The aforementioned performance by Ledger is widely considered one of the best villain performances on the big screen while others who have stepped into the Clown Prince of Crime’s shoes like Jack Nicholson have seen positive reception.
There’s even an entire movie franchise now dedicated to this figure as played by Joaquin Phoenix. Another show that strayed from the norm similar to Gotham Knights was FOX’s Gotham. That series took a different route with its Joker offshoot, Jerome (Cameron Monaghan), and it turned out to be one of the more memorable performances from the five-season show. Simply put, the level of detail and the intricacies of this type of character lends itself to brilliant performances and Keegan is taking full advantage of that.
Gotham Knights airs Tuesday nights on The CW.