During its five-season run, the prequel to Batman “Gotham” has featured many of the classic rogues’ gallery of villains the Dark Knight would fight many times, many of whom have been seen on the big or the small screen in previous incarnations that depict Batman’s adventures. But Gotham has gone further than that – the producers and the writers of the TV series have taken the time and the energy to include some of the villains who are far below on the food chain than the homicidal Joker, and the umbrella using Penguin. It has happened with characters such as Hugo Strange and Mother. Now the show has given fans – both comic book fans and the people who enjoy Gotham Scarface.
This isn’t something unexpected – the producers have been planning to introduce the mentally disturbed Ventriloquist who controls the psychotic puppet Scarface for some time now to add them to the growing collection of villains in the show, and they are a startlingly accurate incarnation similar to the comic version.
Scarface and the Ventriloquist were introduced by John Wagner, Norm Breyfogle, and Alan Grant in Detective Comics #583 in 1988, and they were not really taken seriously by fans. Scarface was seen as a silly character, a joke; he was basically a puppet modelled to resemble a mob boss from the 1930s in a pinstriped suit, fedora hat while carrying a mini Tommy gun in some issues, and the Ventriloquist portrayed himself as a separate entity who was dragged along to the various crimes committed by Scarface when in truth he was in complete control. In spite of that, the two seem to fit in with Gotham’s cast because their existence fits in.
The Ventriloquist was an especially fascinating villain for the Batman universe because most fans didn’t really see Arnold Wesker as the villain. Ironically, it seemed as though Scarface was the one who was the brains behind the crimes.
How Gotham’s Scarface Stays True to the Comics
The design of the character is perfect, creepy, and sinister, and with Arthur Penn’s portrayal as the timid Ventriloquist, Scarface actually comes to life as a character. There is a great deal of ambiguity when it comes to the character of Scarface. Many fans are unclear about whether or not they should consider the puppet itself as alive instead of just seeing the puppet itself as a manifestation of Arnold psychosis. Granted, the puppet’s personality is a delusion created by the Ventriloquist, but it does make people think, and it is in that ambiguity Gotham has succeeded.
In the show, Penn’s Ventriloquist claims he discovered Scarface’s puppet, rather than made it himself as the comic version did, in an abandoned magic shop. The eerie backstory only makes you think more about the strange bond between man and puppet, making you now wonder if the puppet is cursed or not, or just a sign of the Ventriloquist’s psychosis. However the fans are happy with how convincing the relationship between Ventriloquist and Scarface is, and in the comics and the animated series the Ventriloquist did seem to become a happier, lighter individual without Scarface around, and that seems true in the case of Gotham, though Scarface is never too far away…
In Gotham, Penn’s version of Ventriloquist seems to share their relief just to get away from Scarface, however, it still makes people wonder just how far the delusions go in Arnold mind, and how long it would be before Ventriloquist once more hears the voice in his mind saying “Dummy!” It’s just unfortunate we will probably never know – season 5 is going to be Gotham’s final series, and there is the fact Penguin happened to blow Scarface’s head off. Ventriloquist didn’t last long either after the Riddler shot him as well at the end of the episode.
In a clip of the meeting between the Ventriloquist, Arthur’s character was suitably timid, unassuming even as he met Oswald Cobblepot and the Riddler, stuttering his greetings before he opened up a case… revealing the puppet Scarface to Riddler and Penguin, who are both mystified and yet unimpressed. While we don’t see Scarface entering one of his famous rages, we certainly see the strange hold the puppet has over the Penguin’s former account who was believed to be deceased.