What Should We Expect from TV’s Gotham?
Despite the massive recent popularity of shared cinematic universes, being a comic book fan is still quite frustrating when it comes to adaptations on film. You have to wait for years before the most anticipated films come out, and sometimes they’re absolutely dreadful (who asked for the Batnipples anyway?). Even when you get the films that you want, there are very few of them. We only saw Christopher Nolan’s Batman for three films, which seems like the standard quota of standalone films unless you turn around and reboot the franchise immediately (*cough* Sony *cough*). Television, on the other hand, holds a lot of promise.
The comic book format, which in modern times has drawn its success from repeated cliffhangers and dozen-issue storyarchs, is much better fitted for the television format. That’s why Arrow has been so successful despite the character’s uncanny similarities to Batman. That’s why Smallville was so enormously successful despite the heap of cheesiness that was in every episode. And that’s why Gotham has the potential to be one of the best things on the tube this year.
The prequel series aims to tell the story of how Gotham’s villains became so menacing, and to a certain extent, how good guys like Gordon, and even Bruce Wayne himself, were developed. Outside of some nitpicky details (why is Catwoman ten years older than Bruce? She’s a cat, but that doesn’t make her a cougar for Pete’s sake), the first trailer looked extremely promising. Then Netflix picked up distribution rights for the series before the first episode ever aired (it airs on Sept. 22), making it look even more attractive.
Here’s what we know so far. From the trailers, we can assume that the show will most feature Jim Gordon as a young cop in Gotham, facing off against early versions of Batman villains, with a smaller role for the young Bruce. The confirmed villains, so far, include Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Penguin, Riddler, Mr. Freeze, and there’s even been a hint dropped that the Joker may appear.
We also know that it’s being helmed by Bruno Heller, who’s most well-known for his development of The Mentalist, which would indicate that the show, while taking on a dark tone, will emphasize the detective side of the Batman mythos more, which has been a far under-developed aspect of the Batman story in most adaptations.
But most of all, we can conclude that the show is made for comic book fans and not just for the general public. How do I know that? Well first of all, the fact that Geoff Johns (Chief Creative of Officer of DC) is actively involved in the show’s development is a pretty big indicator. He’s even appeared in promotional materials for the show, such as behind-the-scenes and the like, clearly placing himself in affiliation with the show.
His affiliation with the show comes through on-screen, too. Screen Rant recently reviewed the pilot (it was shown exclusively at Comic-Con), and while it was overall a pretty positive review, their primary complaint was that the pilot was too anxious to name drop and bring in cameos from the Batman mythos. That might be a negative thing for a segment of the general viewing public, but I’m inclined to think it’s actually a positive thing overall.
Arrow has been developed into a phenomenal show, no doubt about it, but the thing that has really frustrated me, especially in the first season, is the insistence of the writers at incorporating soap opera elements. As if we asked to forget about Oliver’s battle with the nigh-invincible Deathstroke to his best friend and his ex-girlfriend together. But that’s what we get when the studio that produces The Vampire Diaries gets its hands on Green Arrow.
Gotham, on the other hand, isn’t going to be prone to rely on that kind of appeal. It’s a show for comic book fans, and that, Extremites, is why I’m beyond thrilled for it to get here. ~ Logan Judy: Extremis Batman Contributor