This coming fall looks to be a great one for superhero fans. There are many hero-related shows on several different networks, some returning and some starting. One of the ones I’m really interested in is Gotham, on Fox.
Now, up front, I’ll say the show puts me in an odd position. My favorite character in comics is Bat-related, but won’t be in the show. If Bruce Wayne is just a kid, my hero Dick Grayson (Robin, later Nightwing) is quite possibly not even born yet. And, since Jim Gordon and his eventual wife Barbara Keen are early in their relationship, we’re also a good ways away from Barbara Gordon, Batgirl. But I’m still willing to take a look at something, even if my favorite couple won’t be showing up.
All that to one side, prequels can be a mixed bag. The writers are somewhat limited going in, because we know what happens to many of the characters. No one important to the Bat-mythos is going to die in a show set before Bruce puts on the cowl.
That to one side, this looks like it could be very interesting. The murder of the Waynes appears to be a major piece of the show. Not just the kick off to Bruce’s transformation into Batman, the murder seems to start a lot of dominos falling. It’s also, in a new twist, witnessed by a very young Selina Kyle, long before she becomes Catwoman.
Gordon, a rookie detective, draws the murder case. Bringing in some elements of his background from Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One story (one of the best Bat stories I’ve read), Gordon is fresh out of the military, and has been away from Gotham for some time. His love interest is Barbara Keen, one of Gotham’s wealthy. In the comics, Barbara becomes Gordon’s first wife, and eventually mother to Barbara Gordon, the Batgirl.
Keen’s background is largely unexplored in the comics. Here, it’s hinted that she’s not exactly squeaky clean. This comes up in a scene with Rene Montoya, a character from cartoons and comics who eventually becomes the second hero called the Question. Montoya also has ties to another, as yet unseen or hinted-at character, Kate Kane, the Batwoman.
Two other Gotham cops that appeared in the preview are Harvey Bullock and Crispus Allen. Bullock has a long run in comics and cartoons. He’s been a slob, a dirty cop, and even an intelligence agent in various aspects. This one seems to be a realist, a cop who is bent, but not evil. Crispus Allen was a more recent character, who, in the comics, was a part of the acclaimed Gotham Central series (as was Montoya). Allen was murdered and came back as the second mortal host of the Spectre.
A new character debuting here is “Fish” Mooney. She’s an up-and-coming gangster who appears to employ Oswald (Penguin) Cobblepot. Since she’s not tied to the mythos, Mooney is a wild card. They can do anything with her, take her in any direction, even potentially kill her. She is played by Jada Pinkett Smith. From the interviews, Smith is relishing the role, and very excited about the show.
They have many other characters, including young Bruce and Alfred, of course. Those two didn’t get much time in this special. Selina was shown (almost always crouched which starts looking painful), but not really touched on. We saw even less of Edward Nygma, known to comics fans as the Riddler.
Getting more attention than any of the characters in the above paragraph were the sets and locations. They filmed in New York, and then added in pieces to make it look more like Gotham. Spires, art deco buildings, and gargoyles abound, as they do in most comics. The sets look great. There was a lot of detail in the precinct that Gordon and Bullock work in.
I’ll say I’m cautiously optimistic about the show. I see a lot that can go wrong, but I see a lot of potential. I still question the decision to scatter DC’s tv rights over many different networks, but I’m hoping the actual shows will be good.
As time allows, I’ll talk about other shows, like Arrow, Flash, Constantine, Agents of SHIELD, and Agent Carter.