Gotham returns to our lives on Monday, January 16, and fanboys can once again return to bitching about it being the worst #Batman show ever. Clearly, they have forgotten Birds of Prey (lucky bastards). Here’s the rub: the show isn’t about Batman to begin with.
Now, before you dismiss my ideas, hear me out. Certainly, with a show called Gotham, Batman certainly has to be a prominent part of it, right? Just like #Smallville and the failed #Aquaman series Mercy Reef before it, this show will focus on how Batman came to be. Not a bad concept, but much like the later seasons of Smallville should have been renamed "Metropolis"; Gotham would have had to be called, um, "the world." Bruce Wayne, after deciding to bring justice to his parents, went globe-trotting, studying under the best martial artists to become the tempered weapon of justice he is today.
Still not interested? Let the Joker tickle your funny bone!
Gotham as a series has done a lot of great things to the Batman mythos. It has established the corruption that runs rampant in the streets, it has given us terrific early versions of some of his greatest villains, and it has expanded on #JimGordon in ways fans didn’t even know we wanted. It establishes that James Gordon is not about getting his hands dirty to get justice. Despite what Christopher Nolan says, NOT everyone can be Batman. That’s the point: Batman is a symbol by which all the citizens of Gotham should strive to be, not what citizens already are.
What Gotham has done is paint a grizzly picture of desolate wasteland so that when Batman finally shows up, he will be a beacon of light to counter the darkness. Out of the shadows comes salvation.
It Takes Certain Liberties
Aside from #BruceWayne staying in #Gotham, The producers have stuck to continuity for the most part, while introducing new elements to keep things fresh. The #Penguin falling in love with the #Riddler is something that, to my knowledge, has never happened in the comic. I don’t know if it’s the portrayal by the two actors or simply how the story is written, but I would love to see these two characters together. Coming from a 40-year-old married man, I say with all confidence that those two are adorable AF. Of course, the Penguin had Riddler’s girlfriend murdered, but hey, every relationship has its problems.
There is also the relationship between Lee Tompkins and James Gordon, another couple whom everyone should be rooting for that never occurred in the comics. This seemingly presents problems down the line when Gordon eventually has a child —why would he name his daughter after his psycho ex-fiancée, Barbara Kean (who is basically Harley Quinn)?
This brings us to the identity of #TheJoker. Cameron Monaghan, who has expertly played the possible future Clown Prince of Crime, returns in the back half of this season. The show played off that there were many possible origins for the Joker, which is a nod to The Killing Joke. If the joker is going to have an origin, he prefers it to be multiple choice. Given the fact that there are three Jokers running around the #DCU now, Jerome could be one of those versions.
Seeing Bruce Wayne Evolve Is Cool
Seeing some of the origins of how Bruce Wayne eventually becomes the (Bat)man we all know and love is pretty neat. It delves into more of the psychological aspects of the character that the movies and the comics do, to sometimes great and sometimes "meh" effect. We learn why he wants to hone his detective skills instead of becoming a blunt object. Like his father, he must use surgical precision in some instances. We see him get kidnapped (by the Joker no less) and how he deals with it. Bruce observes a caped man doing acrobatics at high altitudes and thinks, hey that’s pretty cool. The show is establishing that it takes more than peak physical prowess to become a masked vigilante.
The Villains Are Grounded In Reality
Ever since the first season, the villain of the week has been grounded in reality. With each passing season, the villains get progressively worse and escalate. This is perfect, as by the time batman does show up, they will be in their comic fighting form. #KillerCroc is still mostly man when he makes an appearance. #ManBat is still human (save for his bat wings). Batman only came about because the criminals were becoming something the cops couldn’t handle on their own. After he shows up, the criminals start stepping up their game, which, statistically speaking, is how the world works.
Gotham at its heart is a show about the rise of Batman, but it is not its prime focus. When it started it was basically a police procedural with super villains. If that show premiered on #HBO and handled Jim Gordon as a Serpico-style detective, that’d be a license to print money right there. When that strategy proved unsuccessful, the producers opted for more story-based episodes, and I feel it is a better series for it.
Is it the greatest show in DC’s Pantheon? No, not at all. However, it is a lot better than people give it credit for. If the continuity glitches prove to be too much for you, simply think of it as a different Earth — maybe #Flash will show up in one episode.
Should Gotham be more like the comics? Sound off in the comments below!