Gotham is upon us! We are now two episodes into the first Batman-esque live action show since Adam West in the 60’s. And what has the reaction been so far? Hopeful.
So, what is making the Bat-fans so pleased with this new series? For one, it’s taking a lot of inspiration from the comics. The Gordon of this series has much in common with Year One’s interpretation, especially the naievety with how the justice system works in Gotham. The city is infested with criminals, the mob is just as slimy and destructive as the police force, and Gordon must adapt quickly if he’s going to survive.
The overall atmosphere seems to have taken inspiration from two distinct comic series: The Long Halloween and Gotham Central.The Long Halloween focused on brewing hostilities between two rival mob families, playing out like The Godfather set in Gotham City. If you are interested in Batman, you gotta read it! It’s one of the best series of Batman comics to this day. Gotham feels like it has a similar premise, focusing less on this week’s crazy super-villain, and more on the mobsters and everyday criminals of the city. Gotham Central also has a lot in common with the new show because of its focus on the Gotham City Police Department.. It’s not about heroes in tights, but heroes with badges.
This new view of Batman’s story also provides a chance to see just what the rest of the city was going through at Bruce Wayne’s critical moment. The Waynes are not the only family that’s falling apart. A crime war is brewing, which will shape the Gotham City that Batman will one day become the savior for. No other Batman story has ever truly tackled this before, in any entertainment form. While Batman Begins had a hint of it during Joe Chill’s trial era, even that was set years after the shooting and lasted only a few minutes. Gotham isn’t merely copying what others have done before; it’s blazing a new path, forming a new story.
The most exciting part about Gotham is thinking about everything they could do in the show’s future. Lots of classic Batman characters were introduced, but in such a way that there’s plenty of room for development. Take Harvey Bullock for example. He’s not exactly the big, loveable cop that we know him to be in other Batman stories, but we’re seeing him at his beginning, before so many important events have happened. Gotham City has taken what was most likely a noble enforcer of the law and turned him into a dirty cop at the end of his rope. In a way, he’s much like what Gordon could become if he loses hope; especially if hope doesn’t arrive in the form of a guy dressed as a bat.
Gotham is a new take on an old story. Batman has existed for 75 years, and what has made this franchise last for so long is the freedom it gives writers to expand upon the universe it has created. Gotham could be a great addition to this proud history. It’s delved into Batman’s world, and found a spot in time that hasn’t been explored before. This is definitely unusual in TV and film adaptations of comics, and it’s something comic fans are always looking for. We want to see a part of the story that we haven’t experienced before, not just a retelling of the same old stuff.
And that’s what Gotham could be, so long as our hopes for its future are met. But all of these hopes are hanging on major if’s: what if the story doesn’t progress and show a Gotham City that we can accept?? What if these characters don’t get developed, and they remain the bitter and shallow people that we see now? What if Fox decides to cancel it too soon (as they’ve been know to do)? The next few episodes will hopefully shed some light on whether or not these characters will grow, but until then, we have to hold onto hope.
Tom G. is the resident comic and Batman expert here at the Nerd Assembly. He can usually be found writing thoughtful comic reviews, re-reading The Long Halloween, or obsessively searching for the perfect purple suit jacket to complete his Joker cosplay (seriously, it’s been years).