As Marvel continues to roll out its interconnected movie universe with two releases this year, DC fans continue to wait and wonder. The year-long delay of Man of Steel sequel Batman vs. Superman means a two-year absence of its big-screen heroes. DC’s television continues to hum along nicely, however, with CW’s Arrow continues to thrill fans and draw a significant viewership, with The Flash and NBC’s Constantine also on the way.
One other show has Batman fans intrigued – Fox’s Gotham, which will explore the early days of a young Commissioner Gordon. Promising to explore a pre-Batman Gotham City and given a straight-to-series order from the network, the pilot will be written by creator Bruno Heller (The Mentalist) and directed by CSI veteran Danny Cannon. Gotham was initially said to focus solely on Gordon, but it turns out that the paradigm has shifted to include a pre-pubescent Bruce Wayne and the origin stories of some of the Dark Knight’s classic villains, starting with the Penguin (supposedly).
The big question, of course, was who would play Gordon himself. We have our answer now: Variety reports that Southland star Ben McKenzie will take the role of James Gordon, Gotham City detective. The 35-year-old is best known for his role as Officer Ben Sherman on TNT’s LAPD drama as well as playing Ryan Atwood on Fox’s The O.C. His voice will be familiar to fans of the Batman: Year One animated feature, where he voiced Bruce Wayne/Batman.
The question of just who would play the lead in this high-profile show was something of a bumpy ride, with Donal Logue (Sons of Anarchy) rumored for Gordon until he denied it – though, he might play GCPD Detective Harvey Bullock. As for the casting of McKenzie – it’s safe to say that few people (if anyone) saw this coming. We had our own list of actors who could play Gordon, and McKenzie was not on it.
It may be something of a left-field choice, but McKenzie knows how to play a cop on television, and he has some Batman universe cred with Year One. Any actor alive would be nervous about the prospect of filling Gary Oldman’s shoes – the master thespian’s Gordon from The Dark Knight trilogy brought a dimension to the character that had never been seen before onscreen, making Gotham’s top cop a paragon of dignity and champion for justice… and wound up haunted by compromises he made with his own morality in the name of safe streets.
The struggle to remain incorruptible within a deeply corrupt criminal justice system is not a new theme for a police procedural, but this one is set it within the Batman universe, with a background of potential super-villains and (maybe) super-powered aliens. The tone of the series will likely take some time to nail down, and while Gotham will likely not intersect with the established Man of Steel universe, it will keep the Batman world in the front of our minds until then.
Now that we have our Gordon, we can await the rest of the casting news. Who will play the villains? Will the Joker, Riddler, Catwoman and some of the other Bat-villains really appear at some point? Will the small-screen Bat-verse live up to our big-screen expectations? Time will tell, and when we know more, so will you.
Do you think Ben McKenzie can pull off Jim Gordon? Sound off in the comments!
Gotham is in development and will air on Fox.