Although this may be the first time addressing it through writing, people should know I’m an unabashed fan of superhero films. From early Christopher Reeve’s Superman to Tim Burton’s Batman, to the Saturday morning Static Shock cartoons, I’ve basically seen it all. However, one place I’ve always noticed superhero shows to be especially weak when it comes to television, something DC Comics and Warner Brothers hope to fix with Gotham.
Just so the reader is aware, I know that this is not DC Comics’ first or currently only foray into television. If anyone watches the old Adam West Batman television series, they’ll see how ridiculous superheroes were in mainstream entertainment. While Batman, could be the somber caped crusader in the comics, he could be nothing but a joke on TV, solving crimes through zany antics. However, modern superhero shows try to rectify that. Smallville, the story of Superman’s beginnings started a new trend for DC, super-dramas. Soon after Smallville, DC hit a sweet spot for me with my guilty pleasure show Arrow. Arrow has grown in popularity so much that not only does the Green Arrow have his own show, but now The Flash will in his own namesake spin-off. But strangely enough, Warner Brothers and DC have decided not to stick with the CW and a single universe with their newest television series on Fox, Gotham, leading to what may be some good and bad results.
Perhaps to not compete with the canon put in place by the CW shows, the creators of Gotham have decided not to make the focus of the show Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Batman, but on how the city of Gotham affects the people within it, more specifically, the future villains and current Detective James Gordon. First, I’ll talk about the casting. The main focus of the show is mostly future police commissioner Gordon, however, as a current detective, he has to rub shoulders and sometimes butt heads with his corrupt partner Harvey Bullock. Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue play Gordon and Bullock respectively, and honestly, they aren’t very good. Gordon, who is someone who talks and acts like someone hell bent on reforming the town and bringing justice to injustices is rather emotionless, while on the other hand, Logue seems to exaggerate every action to a near comical extent. On the plus side, the villain cast is great from what little we tend to see. The future Riddler, the Gotham City Police Department coroner Edward Nygma, is just as neurotic and quirky as you’d expect, Carmine Falcone is the perfect Mafia Don you’ve always wanted, but best of all is the Penguin. Robin Lord Taylor, who plays Oswald “Penguin” Cobblepot, is an interesting character whose story, even through just a few episodes, shows a nebbish young man turning into a ruthless villain. We also see small snippets of other characters like Selina Kyle, Poison Ivy, and even Bruce Wayne. Seeing small amounts of young Batman coming to terms with his parents’ deaths and how a younger Alfred Pennyworth, who hasn’t yet become the patient and understanding man we know him for, deals with the growing restlessness of a boy who wants to conquer fear.
I think it’s hard to make a decision on how good the show is currently, without seeing exactly where it’s going, especially in terms of connection to other DC shows. Marvel has made it a special point to link all their properties together, minus Spiderman and X-Men which are not under the Disney-Marvel banner. And that’s been great, having multiple movies with heroes like Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor come together to fight bad guys is awesome, and then having it all tie in through Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and now the four new Netflix programs show a level of organization in IPs that no other entertainment company has successfully done. These new shows, with The Flash and Arrow taking place in the same universe proves that DC is trying, and with the Superman versus Batman movie coming up, we’ll soon be seeing a much needed Justice League movie, however, where does this place Gotham? Gotham isn’t under just Warner Brothers like Arrow or it’s spin off on WB’s own channel, the CW, so does it fit into this universe? I’m scared going forward that Gotham might further muddle the already confusing goings on in terms of DC’s intellectual properties. After the failure of the Green Lantern movie, and the fact that Batman is being revived and revised pretty soon after Nolan’s trilogy, we’re seeing a lot of uncertainty from DC in terms of tone and connection between superhero stories. Only time will tell if this will change, so while I can’t say that Gotham is good or bad as a show or for the Batman franchise, I can certainly say it’s something to look out for.