Extremis Rounds Up Gotham’s Premiere
Marvel may have gotten a head start on the whole cinematic universe thing (and, if we’re being honest, their films may be better), but DC is pretty much owning the television scene these days. While Marvel fans wait in earnest for the Iron Fist and Daredevil Netflix series, DC has a universe building from Arrow and The Flash, and a new prequel Batman series that just might be a contender for the best nerdy thing on television this season.
The advantages for the show are obvious. It’s coming at a time when Batfans are dying for any mention of the newest Batman appearance on film. Even if you despise Affleck, you still want to know about Batman’s role in the film. And despite yourself, you’re still going to see it. And so Fox has given fans the perfect outlet for that frustration: Gotham.
But the disadvantages were obvious from the opening minutes of the pilot. The challenge to any prequel is maintaining a reasonable expectation of coincidence. While we want prequels to have cool cameos and early looks at popular franchise characters, after a while, it can become difficult to believe that everything is connected. And indeed, Gotham is flirting with that line.
(Be ye warned: some spoilers for the Gotham pilot lie ahead)
The trailer promised a lot of cool cameos and characters for Batfans to sink their teeth into, but virtually every one of those were in the pilot, in a quick-fire style that leaves us wondering if there’ll be room for anyone else in the rest of the season. Early versions of Bruce, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and Falcone all get thrown into the mix, some of them (Catwoman especially) serving as little more than satisfying fanfare and not adding anything to the story.
But while that will be a downside for the series to overcome, it struck a home run in some very important ways. The acting is some of the best that we’ve seen on comic book TV shows. Forget about the cheesy Smallville and the cringe-worthy Flash, Gotham has brought its characters to life in some very real ways. Ben Mackenzie is an unknown actor, but his part as Jim Gordon nails the core essence of the character. You can see the flame of integrity in his eyes, his discomfort at the unethical police department, and the rage as he hunts down the criminals of Gotham’s underbelly.
And the good acting doesn’t stop with him. David Mazouz plays a very genuine child version of Bruce Wayne, with one of the most bone-chilling screams on film that I’ve heard. Sean Pertwee is a nigh perfect Alfred Pennyworth, and Jada Pinkett Smith nails the darker side of Gotham with new villain Fish Mooney. Even more impressive, the show managed to create character development for Penguin, one of Batman’s least relatable villains. They’re setting him up to eventually be the primary villain of the show. It’s a bold move, but one that will likely pay off in the long run.
Beyond the acting, the show achieved a cohesiveness that is really going to set it apart. It’s taken honest and loyal versions of the characters and combined it with a compelling Gordon-focused narrative and gorgeous Tim Burton-style architecture of Gotham to create a world all its own. This may not be part of the CW DC universe, but I’m not so sure I want it to be. This is a phenomenal thing on its own, and needs to be appreciated as its own thing.
And if they do this right, it just might spawn a universe of its own. ~ Logan Judy, Extremis Batman Contributor.
Posted on October 2, 2014, in Batman, DC, Gotham, TV and tagged Alfred Pennyworth, Batman, David Mazouz, Gotham, Gotham City, Jada Pinkett Smith, Penguin, Tim Burton. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.