While the reception to the Gotham pilot has been mostly very positive, I've seen a few criticisms of the character of Edward Nygma pop up. I felt the need to address both of them here in public view, just as I addressed the criticisms of Alfred's character in an earlier post. On top of that I'll add some of the rumours surrounding the fate of the character on the show. You are all, of course, welcome to your opinions on the character. My own will be expressed here, but they'll be backed by what I feel is solid reasoning and some fact to support it.
Just to establish, I thought Cory Michael Smith's portrayal of the character was excellent, and perhaps, even if just those brief seconds we saw him, suiting up to be the best live action Nygma, if that short scene was an indicator of what's to come. But now, to address the two most common criticisms.
- The most common. "He wasn't needed in the pilot," or "they gave such a major character so little screen time." It is indeed a fact that Edward Nygma had just 30 seconds of screen time (I just counted. Sad, I know.) Still, while a short amount of time, it was plenty for what was intended to be the establishment that a character exists in the Gotham universe, and enough to make an impression.
Cory Michael Smith, who played- and will continue to play- Nygma addressed some of these criticisms in his Twitter feed. "We're just setting it up," he wrote once. They wanted to establish the character existed and give us a glimpse of his character. Let's not forget this is a pilot episode- it's crucial for the producers to show off as much as they can in the hopes that a network will pick up their show. Little things like a small cameo from a future villains by an actor who seems to play him well are the kind of things which might just tip a green light over the edge.
What's interesting to note as well is that, if Smith's Twitter is anything to go off, Edward Nygma will play a much larger role in the series, going as far as to suggest a potential arc of his own as he turns down a more villainous path. So I feel he was warranted in the pilot, if he's going to become a major character especially. On top of this, if he didn't show up and it was just another evidence guy, in future people would ask "why wasn't Nygma dealing with the evidence then?" There are always going to be unsatisfied people.
- Secondly was the suggestion that Edward Nygma came across as "annoying" or "dislikeable." And my response to that is that I should sure hope so. Edward Nygma is one of the most annoying and arrogant characters in the comics, which contributes to his characterisation and his villainy. It attaches you to him too, whether you like it or not. If you ever played Arkham City or Arkham Asylum, you'll know the Riddler was certainly portrayed as annoying and incessant, constantly in your ear, there, too. I feel that's what the producers are going for. If anything, I feel it's not a fault of Smith's acting, but rather a credit to it, that in just 30 seconds he could be as annoying as the Riddler could be. The character really came across well- the delight in telling riddles, the smugness at Bullock not seeming to be able to answer it, and the quiet menace which crossed his face when Gordon solved one.
Another thing worth mentioning is that Smith has confirmed he hasn't watched the Jim Carrey portrayal of the Riddler in Batman Forever, but he is familiar with the character in the comics, and is particularly basing his portrayal off of the New 52 version of the character.
Also, I feel the need to put this in. It's a contrast of Edward Nygma from Arkham Origins and in [Gotham](series:1127075), and the similarities blew me away. I imagine it was done deliberately, and if so, good on them for acknowledging other material; and if not, brilliant all the same.
Of course, 30 seconds is not fair to judge the character in his entirety, but I'd like to get a glimpse of other's first impressions. I personally hope the Riddler becomes a series regular with his own origin story arc, even if not until next season so we can focus on the Penguin in this one, and I look forward to seeing more of what Cory Michael Smith does with the character he seems to be very fond of playing, and who the producers seem to know how to write.