The creators of Fox's upcoming dive into the Batman mythology, the Jim Gordon-focused Gotham TV show have wasted no time in getting casting underway. With The O.C.'s Ben McKenzie playing the Gotham police officer who would become Batman's ally on the other side of the law, Donal Logue (Terriers, Sons of Anarchy) will be playing his mentor, Harvey Bullock. But aside from the core characters, the actual setting, time period, and core story of the series are still something of a mystery.
Thankfully, Logue has opened up about the casting process and his early knowledge of Gotham's Bullock, providing a few hints as to just how strongly the show will be sticking to big screen (and small screen) versions of Batman's hometown. Not to mention teasing that the morality of vigilante law will be the core of the series, not simply re-imagining classic villains.
Speaking with NerdRepository, Logue revealed that like many casual fans, Harvey Bullock's appearance in Batman: The Animated Series is his primary reference as well. But don't expect to see him doing an impression anytime soon:
"It’s dangerous, because my kids watched the animated series and I remember listening to it over the speaker on road trips up to Oregon, I would hear it. It’s that tricky thing where I’m not that guy, I don’t look visually like the guy even in the cartoon.
"It’s interesting that there’s something that exists that you can watch, but Ben obviously is not going to be tied to the cartoon and who Gordon is in that. I’m going to have to take a little bit of license and bring Bullock more towards me, and not me more towards the dude in the cartoon."
The character has been fleshed out in the comic books over the years, and his role - a crooked reflection of Jim Gordon's upright and moral character - has been seen in nearly every Batman film, whether live-action or animated. From the first official details concerning Gotham's take on the detective, he may simply be a little "rough around the edges," as opposed to downright dirty.
With Bullock working to keep the status quo in a corrupt city, and Gordon (returning from military service) being faced with a harsh reality, Logue foresees their differences in enforcing - or simply understanding - the law as the heart of the series:
"I guarantee that is the complete and utter core of the conflict. One guy’s been around Chinatown for a long time, and knows how it has to work. Someone who’s come in from a more idealistic world – not to say non-violent, he’s coming back from the war – steps into it, and absolutely there’s a huge moral quandary... there’s kind of an ambiguous line between good and bad. We have to let certain bad guys do certain things, in order for the greater good, for this machine to keep working.
"And what is law? Is law this platonic form of truth that floats in space that is fixed, or is it something that’s this arbitrary thing where it’s like “the law is me and you, right now, in this car. Whatever we determine, that’s the law.” And that’s the kind of thing that will be a conflict in this show."
As compared to the rest of the series' casting - and those roles still on their way - Logue's selection is less than shocking; as an established actor in a wide range of both drama and comedy, it was only rumors that he'd be playing Jim Gordon that raised eyebrows. Concerns subsided when it was revealed his role would be Detective Harvey Bullock, but according to Logue, when rumors first arose he was only "one of a number of people, it very easily could have been someone else."
So now that the ages of both Gordon and the young Bruce Wayne also set to appear, the question remains of exactly when the series will be set. Will it keep Batman as a modern figure, and set the series twenty years in the past? Or perhaps leap into the near future? Logue eludes the question, but does give a sense of what fans can expect:
"What I do love about Gotham, that I can say so far, is that it creates this incredible world that, for me, you can step into things that almost feel like the roaring 20s, and then there’s this other really kind of heavy Blade Runner vibe floating around.
"There are elements of it that are completely contemporary and there are pieces of it that are very old-fashioned. I’m excited to see which way they go with the production design and wardrobe and all that kind of stuff... there were a couple of examples of modern technology, but maybe an antiquated version of it, that gave me a little bit of sense that it’s certainly not the 50s and the 60s... But it's not high tech and it’s not futuristic, by any means."
That setting may seem odd for a comic book adaptation, but it is actually an accurate description of most depictions of Batman's city: a blend of old-fashioned wealth (complete with top hats and flapper dresses) and a seedy underworld at home in any near-future supercity. So it seems Gotham will be keeping that tradition alive for fans of the feature films, even if the exact time period is hard to pin down.
It would probably be too optimistic to assume that the showrunners are aiming to take a serious look at the philosophical role of law in a modern society, as opposed to introducing new takes on recognizable Batman villains. However, Logue knows a whole lot more about Gotham's goals than any fan (or skeptic), and even in a show like Arrow, the kinds of moral dilemmas Logue alludes to aren't even a factor, amounting to little more than lip service. In other words: there is certainly room for a show to tackle the issues cited by the actor.
Only time will tell, but what are your hopes for Gothams style, setting, and conflicts? Are you looking for something a bit lighter than Nolan's film trilogy, or is dark and gritty what you're after? Sound off in the comments.
We’ll keep you updated on Gotham as development continues.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.