There’s been some confusion of what we’re getting with the upcoming TV series Gotham. In short answer that will be set in the DC Comics universe, in Gotham City, but the twist is it will be set during the childhood years of Bruce Wayne, before he becomes Batman, and it will instead center on James Gordon, a young cop arriving in the city, trying to enforce justice in a den of crime and corruption.
While that premise sounds like potential ground for a good Noir cop procedural, for some people this has been a cut-and-dry situation: no Batman means no interest. Now Warner Bros. is out trying to sell the idea of the show, and has “sweetened the pot,” so to speak, with new details that should appeal to Batman fans hoping on a more traditional take on the lore.
TV Guide tweeted live updates from TCA, where Fox Chairman Kevin Reilly provided the following major Gotham updates:
So there it is: more Batman elements than some may have initially figured they would get. Additional quotes put Bruce Wayne’s age at 12, and the villains mentioned being approached origin-style, so that we get to know how they got to be the psychos or crooks they are.
In all honesty, the focus of Gotham has been unclear thus far; will it be more like the Gotham Central comic book that was a cult-favorite? Will it be more like the gritty Year One Gordon stories by Frank Miller and Jeph Loeb? Or will it – as the title implies – be more of a sandbox world where we follow multiple characters down interweaving narrative threads? Reilly was also quoted by Deadline as saying, “It is an operatic soap with a larger than life quality,” which is a description that is sure to irk fans who worried about seeing the word “soap opera” appear in the context of a Batman TV show.
However, to be fair, Arrow - WB’s successful superhero series – could be described as an operatic soap with a larger than life quality, as it utilizes a wide berth of characters and soap-style scene progression to tell the saga of Starling City and its hooded protector – especially in its first season. While the start may have been bumpy (read: too soapy), when Arrow did finally find its balance, we were left with a pool of characters that were interesting and well-developed and helped flesh-out the world we were getting to know quicker than a single protagonist ever could.
In the case of Gotham, having time split between Jim Gordon, a young Bruce Wayne, other auxiliary characters in the Gotham P.D. (Harvey Bullock FTW!) or even characters who eventually evolve into some of the city’s most notorious villains? Well that would definitely fill the narrative and character demands of such a large-scale project – not to mention that it fits in step with the blueprint already set forth by Arrow. Don’t be surprised if Gotham is truly about the city, rather than just one particular inhabitant.
Lingering questions include WHEN this show will be set – and closely related to that, it’s relation to the film universe. Batman vs. Superman will introduce the DC shared universe Batman (Ben Affleck) – but is Gotham his childhood story? If the answer is yes, then the time stamp would be the 1980s, in order to put modern-day BatAffleck in his 40s. Given the limitations of TV budgets and the already ambitious scope of Gotham, a separate TV continuity and modern-day Batman origin story seem more likely. If THAT is the case, there’s also the question of how Gotham relates to Arrow and/or the upcoming Flash TV show, in terms of continuity… but I digress.
On a personal note: while I never really dug Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman & Robin comic, I did like that version of The Joker (a tough-guy sociopathic serial killer) and think that the Crown Prince of Crime in his early, unrefined, rough-around-the-edges days would be something to see. (Of course that forces one to ignore the Red Hood origin of the villain…)
I’ve mentioned on our latest podcast about Gotham that series pilot director Danny Cannon made Dark Blue, one of my favorite police shows of the last few years. Creatively this project feels like it’s in good hands, it has a proven blueprint to work from (thanks Arrow!) - let’s hope casting is impeccable, and we might have a quality no-Batman, Batman show on our hands.
Gotham is in development and will air on Fox.