Gotham is, without a doubt, one of the best new tv shows this fall. It's been breaking records for viewership (apparently the incredibly aggressive promo campaign did its job) and from the first few episodes, it's delivering what was promised in terms of a fresh look at the backstory of [Gotham](series:1127075). I'm absolutely loving it, and it's been rekindling my love of the Batman mythology (despite the fact that it deviates from it in a lot of ways), including a revisiting of the four films from the 90s (read my retro-review here).
While there are a slew of possible Batman baddies to choose from, it's no surprise that we are seeing many of the same faces in Gotham that we saw in the 90s, just in very different ways. (And of course, Gotham is just getting started! Who knows how many more are yet to make an appearance?) So who did it better? Which is more entertaining, closer to the comic books, or just generally captures the essence of the villain? Here's my take on the villains we have seen the most of in the show so far, and how they compare to their 90's movie counterparts.
Gotham! I will freely admit to being somewhat biased on this count, due to a personal dislike of rubberfaced Jim Carrey in Batman Forever. Even taking that into account though, Gotham still gets my vote so far. I love the way that Smith speaks as Nygma, and he carries much more of a quiet, hyper-intelligent vibe than Carey did. It may be the difference between a show that seeks realism and a movie that happily avoids it, but the twitchy Smith has a lot more potential creep-factor than the OTT Carey version.
It's a Draw! This was by far the hardest to decide, and in the end, I just couldn't. Robin Lord Taylor makes a phenomenal Oswald, and does a scarily convincing psychopath. His strange politeness and switches between simpering toadie and bloody mayhem are fascinating to watch, and he is a surprisingly sympathetic villain so far. However. Danny DeVito as Penguin is iconic. He presents a totally different take on the villain, one that is a lot closer to the comic books (in physical appearance at least). He is far more disgusting, and lacks something of the veneer of charm that Taylor's has. He also has a very different backstory, and is a little more cartoonish because of it; Taylor would be unimaginable chewing on a raw fish (although I could see him biting off a person's nose, somehow). On this one, the two are so very different that I give them both an A.
Pamela Isley/Ivy Pepper/Poison Ivy
Batman and Robin! This is kind of a no-brainer, as we have barely seen Ms Ivy Pepper in the show so far, and Uma Thurman's over-sexed eco-warrior is brilliant (if a little ridiculous at times). On top of which, the decision by Gotham to re-name Pamela Isley has raised eyebrows among the fandom. I'm still guessing that some kind of witness protection situation will have Ivy changing her name to the original, but who can say? While we get a sense of her timid personality and her love for plants (mostly from the promo so far), it remains to be seen if she can truly grow into a Poison Ivy to rival Thurmans.
It's a Draw! Again, this one was too hard to call, but for a slightly different reason. Gotham sticks much more closely to the comic books (for once), with Selina-the-street-kid, but Burton's version is iconic in it's own right. While Pfeiffer was definitely a very different kind of Catwoman, she represented a side that almost every woman has - the id gone wild - and it was phenomenal. The costuming was also absolutely fantastic, and that white-stitched vinyl will remain an incredible cosplay for decades. Bicondova so far has done a great job of portraying feline body language, but her obsession with Wayne as a child doesn't sit too well with me so far. It remains to be seen which direction we will go, and she could very well win this battle in the end.
Batman! Obviously. Technically, we haven't actually seen a confirmed Joker in Gotham, and if the producers are telling the truth, we won't for quite some time. Instead, teases and possibilities appear throughout the show, starting with the stand-up comedian in the first episode. Jack Nicholson, on the other hand, IS the Joker. Batman may not be my favorite of this film series, but Nicholson is, as always, ridiculously talented. He defined the Joker for a generation, and while Heath Ledger may now share that crown, I doubt that we will see a third live-action Joker to rival either of them just yet.
It will be interesting to see who else pops up in this new Gotham; and we already know that Two Face and Mr Freeze will be appearing at some point. Bane could be a possibility, especially with the last episode focusing on Venom - I feel as though we may not have seen the last of that! It seems that a part-two may be in order, and if the show continues for multiple seasons, we could work our way through almost every major villain as we see Bruce Wayne becoming Batman!
Who do you think does it better? Which villains do you prefer, and who would you like to see in upcoming episodes?