Everyone who has watched or followed FOX’s Gotham from the start knows that the showrunners have strayed a bit from the original plan – for most of the audience, strayed in a better direction, playing to the strengths of the cast and audience favorites. While the early buzz for the show emphasized the fact that Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) would be the star of the series, and the show wouldn’t be a Batman origin story at its core, the early performance of actor David Mazouz in the role of Bruce Wayne changed all that. That, and the allure of teasing fans with a Dark Knight in the making was (understandably) too large to ignore.
You won’t hear many audience members complain, since the chance to see the young Bruce Wayne begin his training, his investigation into Gotham’s underworld, early bond with Catwoman, and growing relationship with Alfred Pennyworth is a proposition few Batman fans would ever pass up. But according to the young star, the odds of seeing him truly take on the role of the Bat remain slim for one specific reason: Gotham City doesn’t need Batman – yet.
The comments arrive as the show prepares to enter its third season – one advertised as descending Gotham even farther into chaos and madness. Along the way, Bruce and Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) will deepen their connection, give Bruce a new enemy bearing his own face, and establish what the producers call the “foundations” of his career as Batman. And if it seems like the third season might be bringing even more insanity than the show can handle, Alfred Pennyworth actor Sean Pertwee tells Collider that’s exactly the point:
“That’s the point of the show. We’re descending into hell and it’s going to get a lot worse, for a lot longer, before Batman has an excuse to draw breath and to rise from the ashes and stand up for the little man and the good man. It’s going to get worse. Things are pretty bad, and we really do need some help. The numbers of the good guys are thinning. Jim Gordon’s wheels have fallen off and he’s gone man. We literally just have Lucius Fox, young master Bruce and Alfred, pitted against the world.”
Viewers have voiced some criticism in the past, with such descriptions implying that the ‘villains’ of the show will be famous characters in their pre-Batman identities – and in the show, more closely resembling… well, those villains exactly as they will be when battling Batman years (decades?) later. It led to satisfying moments for comic fans, seeing younger versions of iconic DC villains, but the ‘origin story’ aspect of the show was at times undercut by the impression that Gotham actually might need Batman already.
Among the show’s devoted audience, those criticisms were brushed aside with the argument that Gotham may not be the true origin story to Batman and his Rogues Gallery that it would appear on the surface. Be it an “Elseworlds” story, an alternate timeline, or just a TV show playing in, but not necessarily limited to, the comic book canon. But Mazouz implies that Gotham is still a story in keeping with the classic Batman origin, and that those who claim the city is already in need of a Dark Knight (or just hoping to see one sooner than later) had better buckle up:
“Batman can’t exist until he’s necessary, and he’s not necessary yet. The world of Gotham has to get a lot worse, which it will… That’s the show. It really is the story of how a city goes from being okay to just being an absolute mess, and there needs to be a Batman to save it.”
As tempting as it might seem to get a young Batman (in appearance, if not name) on weekly TV – especially with Superman himself joining Supergirl – Mazouz has a good reasoning for his absence. Even if Season 3 of Gotham has Bruce Wayne picking locks, conducting stealthy investigations from the shadows, and outright fighting criminals, the time for ‘The Batman’ to emerge hasn’t yet arrived. Of course, some might ask at that point: “What’s the difference?”
It’s a conversation worth having, especially as Gotham continues Bruce’s march from adolescent angst into a mission to take on Gotham City’s criminal organizations. Hopefully, Mazouz’s comments imply the show’s writers are prepared to distinguish the difference, and in its third season, Gotham can escape some of the comparisons to the comics and be judged solely on the story it’s telling.
Gotham season 3 premieres Monday, September 19 on FOX.