Since it was first announced, Gotham had the attention and the curiosity of both devoted comic book fans and casual audiences. It’s a story explicitly not intended to be a Batman origin story, but rather a series placed on the shoulders of Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie), and a chance to re-imagine the most iconic villains that Gotham City ever spewed out.
Now the series has earned more than a fair share of positive buzz and momentum going into the Fall 2014 season, with Netflix alone proving Fox has a hit on their hands. How long that lasts is anyone’s guess, but now that the pilot episode has hit the airwaves, the showrunners have offered more than a few classic characters, Easter eggs, and subtle nods to the comic book fans.
Needless to say, there will be plenty of minor spoilers concerning the cast (for those who haven’t spotted the seeds being planted) in our list of Gotham Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed, so read at your own risk.
Despite Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne attracting the most attention (as usual), it is actually Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) who first appears onscreen. Although the character is still years away from adopting the costume and moniker of Catwoman, her love of theft, acrobatics, and felines is visible even at an early age.
As are her signature goggles; added to the character’s standard costume around 2001 (and remaining a staple to this day).
Thanks to previous live-action versions of the Batman story, audiences have come to expect a dirty, dim-witted detective acting as Gordon’s partner. While that seems to describe Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) at the outset, the character has appeared dramatically different in the comics. Initially as corrupt as police can get, Bullock would have a change of heart, going on to not only save Jim Gordon’s life, but become one of the few men in Gotham that ‘the good detective’ could trust.
The first episode hints that Bullock might be dirty – but not that dirty – so the writer’s could be modeling their version off the comic book more than we think. Bullock also shows another trademark of his comic book character: a troubled (but lasting) relationship with alcohol.
A Tougher Alfred
You can’t have a Bruce Wayne story without his trusted butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee). But detail-oriented viewers will notice that Gotham‘s take on the character is a little different. For instance, it isn’t long after embracing the shocked Wayne heir that Alfred is soon barking at him to keep his chin up, and be mindful of how he appears to others.
Not exactly the warm and comforting Alfred viewers might expect, but certainly not the first time the butler has been given something of an edge (Geoff Johns’ “Batman: Earth One,” for instance).
We suspected that Alfred would be playing a larger role in Bruce’s ascent to a costumed vigilante this time around, when his character synopsis emphasized his experience as “a tough-as-nails ex-marine.” The choice language he uses when shouting Bruce down from the roof of Wayne Manor is further evidence, but we doubt the writers will commit to his disciplinarian side the way some comics have.
Montoya & Allen
In a city like Gotham, the police can be just as dangerous as the criminals. In the pilot episode, that threat is embodied in the form of Detectives Crispus Allen (Andrew Stewart-Jones) and Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena), the pair suspecting that Jim Gordon and his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) may not be on the level. It should come as no surprise that they, too, owe their origins to the world of DC Comics.
While the pair were fleshed-out best in the “Gotham Central” comic series, Montoya actually owes her origins to Batman: The Animated Series. Originally depicted as Bullock’s partner, she was added into the comics before the show aired – and a similar character would go on to play a pivotal role in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. For now, it seems her romantic entanglements and prescription drug problems (“pillhead loonie”) have been kept intact.
Mayor Aubrey James
His appearances in the episode may be brief, but Mayor Aubrey James (Richard Kind) is also another comic creation, appearing in “Legends of the Dark Knight” as the mayor of Gotham before Thomas and Martha Wayne met their end. His campaign posters claim that “he’s got your back,” but their presence outside of Fish Mooney’s club may imply a seedier connection…
Lieutenant Sarah Essen
Playing an even smaller role in the pilot episode is Captain Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara), although it seems the show’s writers will be departing from much of the source material with this depiction. First introduced in “Batman: Year One,” Essen appeared on the scene as a lieutenant, soon engaging in an extramarital affair with Jim Gordon (twelve years her senior). Essen acting as Gordon’s superior isn’t totally unheard of, however, since later stories cast her as both Police Commissioner and the detective’s wife.
It’s a hard cameo to miss, but it looks like not all of Gotham’s villains will originate on the streets. In the case of Ed Nygma a.k.a. The Riddler (Corey Michael Smith), the villain began his obsessions with riddles in the city’s own crime lab. For now, we can only guess what mysteries lie in that scribble-filled notebook he holds, but it’s obvious Gordon’s wit has his attention already.
In what we can expect will be the first of many veiled allusions to Batman villains and supporting characters, Gordon and Bullock’s first trip to Fish Mooney’s nightclub offers up one sizable hint. We speak, of course, of the dancers clad in revealing, red and black outfits on stage. Besides those colors being inextricably linked to the Joker’s partner-in-crime Harley Quinn, the fact that the stage will later be used for a similar hint means fans have reason to hope.
Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) may be only a fiancee to Jim Gordon when his time in Gotham begins, but comic book fans know that she’s a powerful player in the Bat-universe in the coming years. Clearly established as the one person in the city whom Jim can trust, the pair will one day raise their daughter Barbara Gordon (Jim really liked the name) into the superheroine known as Batgirl – her apartment even gives a nod to Babs’ clocktower headquarters as ‘Oracle.’
“4th & Grundy”
When Bullock comes across a tip on the late Martha Wayne’s missing pearls, he instructs Jim to meet him at the corner of “4th and Grundy.” The address is a reference to the immortal DC Comics villain Solomon Grundy, named after the nursery rhyme and a regular foe to both Batman and Superman.
Another reference hard to miss for anyone paying attention, the young girl Gordon and Bullock first encounter when arriving at Mario Pepper’s apartment should stand out. If the showrunners hadn’t confirmed that Ivy Pepper (Clare Foley) would grow up to become Poison Ivy, her interest in houseplants would make the point clear (along with her ill will towards the police).
Comic fans will be quick to point out that Ivy’s actual name was ‘Dr. Pamela Isley,’ but series creator Bruno Heller has explained that the girl is just the first of many changes to comic book origins that the writers will be making.
When you’re telling a story centered on Gotham City and Bruce Wayne, any character known for telling jokes is going to be under increased scrutiny …Which is why it didn’t take long for Jon Beavers’ role as ‘Comedian’ in Fish Mooney’s club to ruffle some feathers – especially since Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke” graphic novel offered one origin story for the Joker: an aspiring stand-up comedian.
Executive producer Bruno Heller has since explained that the reaction among fans was predicted ahead of time, but that there will be plenty other potential Jokers teased throughout the coming episodes.
The Roman’s Warning
Yet another character introduced in “Batman: Year One” rounds out the latest tale of Gotham’s ‘early years,’ with Carmine Falcone (John Doman) revealed as the head of organized crime in the city. The version of ‘The Roman’ seen in the first episode reveals much about Jim Gordon’s father, but also seems to stick closer to the character’s Italian-American roots than that of Batman Begins.
For instance: Falcone’s parting words to Jim Gordon. The Italian phrase “in bocca al lupo” – ‘in the wolf’s mouth’ – is an idiom along the lines of “break a leg,” but when applied to Jim’s place in Gotham’s corruption, it’s a fitting sentiment.
The Penguin’s Walk
Audiences can assume that Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Taylor) got the nickname of ‘Penguin’ thanks to his formal attire, but by the end of the episode, it’s taken on a whole new meaning. Viewers only get a brief look at the damage done by Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), but Cobblepot seems doomed to waddle as his nickname would suggest, thanks to some badly-beaten legs. We assume that umbrella will return in the near future.
Those are all the Easter eggs, bits of comic book trivia, and subtle references fans can look out for, but if you have any that we missed, please share them in the comments.
Gotham airs Mondays @8pm on Fox.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.