If there's one comic book universe that has been picked apart, scraped, explored, not to mention crossed-over, it's Batman's.
More than just a base film and television fodder, the Dark Knight's home city of Gotham has provided DC fans with more side-stories, team ups, and case files than Stan Lee could ever Marvel up. And no need for alternate dimensions, either. As was proven with Christopher Nolan's spectacular [The Dark Knight Rises](movie:39011) Trilogy, you can take the character and his universe and twist it into something new. But just how far can you twist the legend until you're not even focusing on the hero himself?
No doubt a rival reply to Marvel's [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469), the upcoming show Gotham will explore the most dangerous city in America (apart from Los Angeles, of course) through the (not yet spectacled) eyes of (not yet Commissioner) Jim Gordon. That's right. It's a show that's not about Batman, but about his ally in the force. Of course, the only way they could do a show about a non-superhero hero would be to take the man with the cape out to avoid him being overshadowed. This is why the series will be a prequel to the caped crusader putting on the cowl and dispensing justice with his billion dollar fists.
Granted, it's a brave move to do this as we'll be watching one massive lead up to something far more exciting than the show's premise. It would be like basing a series on Tony Stark's rise up the corporate ladder instead of flying in a rocket-powered armour suit, or Reed Richards studying for his PhD rather than stretching his elasticised limbs. You'd essentially have to be that committed to the comic universe of that character to sit down and subscribe to such a thing. But this isn't completely out of the blue, nor is it the first time that they've scaled back a comic book story to fit into the confines of a prime time show. They somehow fitted Superman into a high school-esque drama in Smallville, no?
The idea behind the show pays homage to one of the Frank Miller Batman titles - Batman: Year One - where a young Bruce Wayne is honing his mantle as The Batman and a much younger Gordon has moved to the doomed city with his wife. Right from the get go, Jim is facing a rotting metropolis, corrupt cops, and the arrival of a masked figure taking justice into his own hands. The approach to his story was more of that of a film noir, as Miller's style works best (See: Sin City). While the younger Jim in the past can come off as ever so slightly meek and (somehow) innocent, he would never shrink from having to, say, punch a drug dealer on his own turf. He's a stern man, is what I'm saying. But back to the television show.
Benjamin McKenzie will be playing the role of Gordon (Which is ironic, considering he played the role of Batman in an animated version of the aforementioned Batman: Year One comic), with child actor David Mazouz playing the part of a young Mr Wayne. After the gunning down of his parents, Gordon swears to Bruce that he will do whatever it takes to bring the killer to justice. A bit of an odd twist as the whole creation of Batman was driven by Bruce acting alone. But I suppose you can take some liberties when doing an original piece of narrative.
The trailer to the show features Jim doing the typical no-nonsense cop malarkey akin to any other crime flick you've seen in the last 20 years. He's got the Daniel Craig-esque rough around the edges tough guy appearance going on (Which seems to be hot right now), and is seen staring people down with a stone gaze. On first glance, it appears to be a generic cop show, but with the added twist of acting as a launch pad for all of Gotham's baddest and maddest. The villains confirmed already include teen and pre-teen carnations of The Penguin, Catwoman, The Riddler, and Poison Ivy, but director of the series Bruno Heller has confirmed that the clown prince of crime himself, The Joker, will make an appearance later in the show. So already that's quite good line up of foes to contend with, even if Poison Ivy is basically portrayed as a tatty young girl with a 3-foot plant.
[Gotham](series:1127075) has already been confirmed by Fox to be on the network's schedule towards the end of this year and discussion has been mixed amongst fans. But then again, comic books fans are the hardest to please.
So do you think Gotham will do justice to the Batman universe, or is it a case of picking at the bones of a great story?