We are living in an amazing era. As nerds, this is our time in the sun, and what a glorious time it is. There are so many things to look forward to: movies, games, TV shows, comics. Some of them may not be the greatest, some of them are surprisingly great, and some of them we may not be too keen on for some reason or another.
I’ll admit, for quite a while the upcoming TV show Gotham was in that last category for me. When it was first announced, all I could think was “so… It’s basically Batman… Without Batman in it?” and I just left it at that. But fairly recently, a 21 minute preview was released, and I couldn’t help but watch it out of sheer curiosity.
Then something magical happened. With every second of that preview, I was more and more convinced that Gotham is going to be an absolutely amazing addition to the world of Batman.
Firstly, here is the preview I watched on one of my favourite websites, batman-news.
Oh my god.
My favourite thing about that preview (other than fucking ALL of it) is that every member of the cast and crew, literally every single person involved, is as passionate as humanly possible about this project. You can hear it in every word they say. Even the kid who plays young Bruce Wayne, David Mazouz, is way, way into it.
My other favourite thing about it is fucking ALL of it. Seriously, I’ve watched that video a whole bunch of times and it gives me goosebumps every time.
One of the most amazing parts about this is that the crew are working on creating the most amazing vision of Gotham City I’ve ever seen in live action. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the visual design of both Tim Burton’s and Christopher Nolan’s Gotham, but this TV series is just gonna be stunning. It’s going to be very similar to what the Rocksteady team are doing with Arkham Knight, and I touched on that in my article on that game.
Gotham is going to be a complex, bustling, dangerous place. It will be slightly out of time, with old cars and new gadgets. It will be dirty and corrupt. But mostly, it will be dark.
The story of Gotham will start exactly at the point where every other Batman movie skips over: just after Bruce Wayne’s parents have been murdered. Sure, we’ve seen this scene roughly 4,000 times, but in this case, we’ll stay right there, right with a young Bruce Wayne as he’s left as an orphan. A young(ish) Jim Gordon promises Bruce that he’ll find the man responsible, and we’re off!
One of the biggest parts of Gotham will undoubtedly be Gordon himself. I love the casting of Ben McKenzie as the iconic Jim Gordon; I think he has the perfect balance of integrity, idealism, and action hero. He has also voiced Batman previously (in the amazing animated adaptation of Batman: Year One), so he’s got some experience with the world of Gotham. I love that he’s a rookie in this case, as he’ll be in his prime, both physically and in terms of his clear cut sense of right and wrong. There hasn’t been a Batman yet to challenge his adherence to “by the book” justice and Gotham hasn’t seeped into his soul, gradually grinding the black and white of his idealistic world into a vague, muddy grey. It’ll be awesome to see a Gordon with all the vigour and tenacity of a young detective, and I think McKenzie will do an amazing job.
The series will also cover the origin stories of several of the Batman Rogues Gallery, most notably The Riddler, Catwoman, The Joker and The Penguin.
Oh boy, this is gonna be interesting to see. I’m a little worried about this aspect of the show, as it’ll have to be done perfectly to be pulled off. But given the dedication of the cast and crew, and the amazing quality that’s been seen so far in the preview, I don’t think it’ll be an issue.
The Riddler is going to be an absolute pleasure to watch. From what I’ve heard, he starts off as a tech consultant for the Gotham City Police Department.
This is an incredibly interesting place for the character to start, and I like where they could be going with it. I’m imagining/hoping they’ll keep the character’s backstory relatively untouched: The abusive father who punished him for “constantly lying”; the compulsive need to leave clues as a show of intelligence and to prove he’s being truthful; the disdain for people with a lower intellect than his own; the complex, almost-impossible-to-solve crimes. Hell yes.
I’m really intrigued that in this story The Penguin starts as a low level thug. The casting is absolutely spot on in this case (although I think it is with most if not all of the characters on the show to be honest); you can see the intelligence, the hunger for power, and the scheming going on behind those bright, slightly insane eyes.
I’m not so happy that he’s skinny, but to be honest that kind of works too, as he would only have been fat in the comics after quite a few years of indulging in the finer things once he’s already reached the top of the Gotham underworld.
One interesting thing that they showed a quick shot of in the preview is Catwoman being present when Bruce’s parents were murdered. This is quite odd, and I’m assuming that’ll be important later on as there’s no other reason to just randomly shove her into that part of the story. Hmm. Weird.
One thing they’ve said fairly recently about the show is that in each episode, there will be a small clue as to who the Joker is.
HOLY FUCKING HELL YES.
That’s such a great idea!
My hope is that they’ll still leave the actual backstory fairly vague, to keep with the original tone of the character: mysterious and absolutely fucking insane.
One thing I’m not sure about is the balance between showing the characters going through their origins, and showing them the way we recognise them. It’s something I heard a lot of people complain about when Batman Begins came out, saying things like “we didn’t even see Batman until like an hour into the movie, wah wah wah”. I’m just very worried that the team behind the series will be pressured by an impatient audience who can’t be bothered waiting a few seasons to see the Riddler turn bad or the Penguin finally run Gotham. The whole point of the show is that these characters are young. This is their origin, just like Batman Begins; if they just got straight into all the crazy Batman action, it would’ve been called “Batman Continues”, and if this show wanted its bad guys already established they wouldn’t be super young and Bruce Wayne would already be Batman.
So yeah, I’m really hoping they keep a slow, steady pace to the origin stories and actually start with a strong foundation on which they could build a truly complex ensemble of characters. It’s what Gotham deserves.
I’m also a bit curious as to how much of a role young Bruce Wayne will have, and how much forshadowing we’ll see of the man he’s to become. It’s pretty obvious he’ll be heavily featured in the pilot, as the footage in the preview clearly shows that the show will start with the murder of the Waynes and set up a potential friendship between Gordon and Bruce. But from there, will it maintain and explore that connection between the rookie cop and the grieving orphan? How much screen time will be given to this relationship when there is so much more to explore?
There are a LOT of bad guys in Gotham, and if all of them are given their own backstory, this show is gonna get very complex, very fast. I personally view this as a really, really awesome opportunity. I’m thinking if they play their cards right, they could end up with an intense, interweaving story featuring dozens of main characters and their struggle for power, as well as the stories of each of them becoming who they’re really meant to be. Sound familiar? Yeah, I’m saying I think a great tone and style for Gotham would be a very similar formula to a little show called Game of Thrones.
There are just too many characters with too much to explore for the creators to set this out as a standard show. They need to take their time, give each character a decent amount of screen time per episode, and really focus on quality storytelling rather than catering to impatient fans.
To be honest, I think they’re gonna nail it. I have complete faith in this team after seeing the awesome preview posted earlier. The creators are just way too invested to let this show be ruined.
Another thing I’m interested in (so many questions, I WANNA WATCH IT NOW) is to see what sort of tone they take with the action and believability. What I mean is, Nolan’s whole pitch for his Batman trilogy was that he wanted it to be grounded in reality as much as possible. Tim Burton just set Batman in Tim Burton’s insane imagination. The cartoon shows have always been a lot more free with the suspension of disbelief thing. But with Gotham, it kinda looks like an amalgamation of all of those, it’s dark and looks like a cop drama set in the real world, but it’s also got characters like Poison Ivy and Mr Freeze in it, and there’s literally no way to set them in a world that has anything to do with real life.
So it’ll be really interesting to see how much the show takes from the comics, and how much it takes from real life. Another amazing thing they could explore (depending on how long they plan to keep the show going) is having Bruce Wayne grow up with the show, have him age in real time so that we can see him get closer to the Bruce Wayne we know. Or maybe recast him every couple of seasons as a little bit older. Then the show could split so that we’re still in Gotham with the rise in crime and Gordon’s struggles with the city, but we’re also travelling the world with Bruce as he trains to become the world’s greatest detective.
But I’m getting WAY ahead of myself there. Anyway, Gotham will come out in less than a week, so that’s incredibly exciting!
I didn’t set this article out as a pros/cons type deal, so I’m not really basing this on anything “official”, but I’m just gonna go ahead and do my ratings thing anyway, because I feel like it.
So, Gotham gets a 5/5: SO KEEN FOR IT! (as if it was gonna be anything less)
Thanks for reading, leave a comment to let me know what you think Gotham will be like!