You won’t find him anywhere in the credits, but fans of Kevin Smith (Jay and Silent Bob, Dogma), and his SModcast will know that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the creation of television’s Batman prequel, Gotham.
The show was first announced in September last year, pitched as an origin story for Commissioner James Gordon. At the time it was described as:
‘The origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon and the villains who made Gotham City famous. In Gotham, Gordon is still a detective with the Gotham City Police Department and has yet to meet Batman, who will not be part of the series’.
Then, a month later on Kevin Smith's SModcast, Smith and Paul Dini, the writer behind Batman Beyond, Superman and numerous other animated DC cartoons, started talking about a different Gotham-based television show named Shadow of the Bat. The show was thought up on the spot during the podcast, where the two comic book obsessives figure out exciting ways to incorporate the origins of the most popular characters of the batman franchise, including Bruce Wayne, Harvey Dent and Selena Kyle. I won’t outline what they said too much, in case they act as spoilers to the new show, Gotham. But Smith and Dini’s ideas, which span for more than 3 seasons, can be found on Smith’s website as #51 in his 'Fat Man on Batman' series.
So, Gotham was announced in September, a month before Smith’s Shadow of the Bat was created. That’s fine, right? Nope! Although FOX’s announcement came first, it was explicitly stated that Bruce Wayne would not be involved in the origin story of Commissioner Gordon. However, Gotham’s trailer was released earlier this week and is a tale of two halves. It begins with a young Commissioner Gordon fighting against the street crime of Gotham City, with accuracy to what had been outlined in September. Half way through the trailer, though, the story seems to switch to something different, as a young Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle immerge during their school years. From that point on, there is no doubt that the show has adopted some of the SModcast’s concepts.
Naturally, this didn't go unnoticed by fans of the Kevin Smith show. A huge amount of fans tweeted him to inform him of FOX’’s new ideas – and his response was quite refreshing. The similarities become a little more sinister when you discover that Smith and Dini wanted to pitch their show, Shadow of the Bat, but knew they would be rejected due to the similarities.
Smith spoke openly about Gotham’s change of direction, saying that FOX presumably took the best of his ideas due to the buzz Shadow of the Bat received across the internet for the month following the SModcast. He stressed to say that he didn’t feel like he was owed anything, because he owns no rights to the DC characters. All he asks for is to be included in the show’s process.
As fans, should we care who came up with the awesome idea to show Bruce Wayne’s schooldays, so long as we get to enjoy the show in the end? Actually, yes, because currently Smith and Dini don’t have anything to do with the show, despite their positive influence on it’s main themes so far. Imagine the possibilities of Gotham’s greatness if the pair were allowed to input their ideas, knowing that they came up with it’s basic principle in just one afternoon! Kevin Smith has said that he wants to be a part of the Gotham project. What FOX really need to realize is that it’s what everybody else wants, too.
As fans, it should make us think, what do we do about it? Should we use the fan-power of social media to get Smith and Dini in on the project? Or should we just sit back, let it happen and watch their other comic book projects coming soon? After all, Kevin Smith is partly responsible for making our new caped crusader Ben Affleck famous in the first place.