Gotham is a show that has, since its very first trailer, copped a lot of flack. It wrapped up its second season a few months ago and has really come into its own since its pilot episode. The problem though, lies in every major announcement being received with a response that doesn't make any sense.
There is generally a lot of mindless hate on the internet for TV shows and movies, particularly the superhero kind, based on preconceived notions of what the people think something should be. Shows and movies that play with those pre-established ideas (no matter how good the product is) end up getting the most of hate, from films like Fant4stic to shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Gotham, and while a lot of this hate comes from a fairly insane place, the criticisms for Gotham take it to a new level with complaints about character introductions. Here's why those complaints don’t make any sense and why perceiving them as problems just seems like attacking a creative product just for the sake of it. Of course, since it's a bit of a read, it's summed up at the bottom of the piece for those who want that. So, without further ado, let's get into it:
Clark Kent On Gotham
David Mazouz, the phenomenal actor playing young Bruce Wayne on the show, recently made some statements regarding Clark Kent appearing on Gotham, which can be viewed HERE. For those of you that want to save a click (which is a whole other discussion for another time), Mazouz says that "it'd be really cool to have a young Clark Kent on the show. To have a 15-year-old Clark Kent. I know in Batman V Superman they played it like Metropolis and Gotham are twin cities, so it wouldn't be that hard to take a boat ride over for Clark".
When this particular comment reached news outlets, the reaction by those following the news sites was that of disgust in the show. This disgust comes from the fact that it wouldn’t make sense in the "timeline." Aside from the fact that the show is doing these things like getting fan favorites to come in just for the audience, Mazouz's scenario actually makes sense to happen in the story. He even goes on to say that the Clark Kent cameo could come in the form of a visual nod in a newspaper.
But yet, a large group of people are still insisting that Clark Kent is still in Kansas/Smallville at the time and it doesn't make sense. Not only does the scenario make sense, but Clark Kent could also go to Gotham. Plus, there’s a precedent for it in the comics, as perfectly evidenced in a short story (following on from a previous one a few years prior) in the New 52 run of Batman/Superman (in Issue 3 to be precise). The story follows Alfred taking Bruce for a trip, before their car breaks down and Bruce runs into Clark, becoming friends. It comes at a time a little while after Bruce's parents have died and when he really doesn’t have that many friends, so in terms of the aforementioned "timeline," meeting Clark is one of the most perfect things that could be done.
I personally don't believe that this hate came from out of nowhere. It’s the straw that breaks the back of the spoiled camel. There's been one constant complaint since the show started, one that definitely is a factor in the ramped-up hate towards this statement (which, let's just clarify, isn’t even confirmation, just the hopes/conjectures of a 15-year-old Batman fan, who we can all actually learn from), and that complaint is that of...age.
Age? What? What's Up With The Age?
Well, this complaint about age comes from the idea that the villains are too old compared to Bruce. 1) The show is its own thing and may even be a universe that doesn’t actually lead to any of the Batman universes we know exists (and there’s already a good few), as evidenced in such plot points as the death of Maroni and Barbara becoming a villain in Season 1. 2) Slightly unrelated, the influx of villains that everyone is complaining about comes from an original attack on the show for not being close enough to the Batman universe (even though it was originally supposed to be a procedural that just happened to be set in pre-Batman Gotham, and people really couldn’t get enough of a grasp on that concept for some reason, but I digress).
Anyway, even considering all this about different universes, this idea of the villains being "too old" is insanity and should be locked up in Arkham Asylum. The complaints center around this one tired joke about how when Batman goes up against his enemies, they'll be in a retirement home as opposed to Arkham Asylum (look at any Facebook post about a new Gotham casting or even just any Gotham post on any major news outlet and one of the top comments will be about an old person's home). So let's get some facts out of the way first:
1. If someone goes to a retirement home in their early 70s, it's considered fairly early to be in said home. Also, there are many 70-year-olds that can still function and move around fine. A more likely age for those just reaching retirement home age is 80, but I thought I’d lower it just as a gesture of good faith.
2. There's never really been a specified age for any of these characters, including the never-aging Alfred Pennyworth (just something to remember)
3. Nobody seems to mind that in over 70 years of comic book stories, none of the Batman characters have really aged that much at all, so really age doesn’t matter (and please don’t start complaining about that now as well).
4. Bruce Wayne is probably in his early-20s (to possibly late-20s) when he becomes Batman, and he pretty much stays around that for the duration of his publication history. For the sake of this piece, we'll say 27 as the age when he meets his enemies as Batman (which is probably higher than what the reality is. Again, just doing this out of good faith).
5. David Mazouz is 15 and his Bruce Wayne is about that, maybe older.
6. Again, it's an alternate universe anyway, so the age can fluctuate from what we know.
7. It's generally inferred that actors like Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy, who return to their roles, are playing the age they played when they first got those roles.
8. Actors cast in the show probably were probably cast for their talent, as opposed to their age, and many, such as Cory Michael Smith, Robin Lord Taylor and Anthony Carrigan, are almost definitely playing younger.
9. Characters don't even have to be the ones that appear in the future, as we have seen with Black Mask (and we might still see with Jerome).
10. There's actually reportedly a creature coming to Gotham Season 3 that changes people’s age, as referenced in a story about the Poison Ivy character, which you can find HERE, so really this age stuff is still actually up to debate. Not that it matters since, as you'll see, the age gap isn’t even that big.
11. The story and acting are a much bigger deal in terms of whether a show is good or not. This age complaint, when it comes down to it, really means nothing.
OK, so let's do this villain-by-villain (the ones that people actually care about as being notable Batman villains, so not Copperhead or Falcone, who still make sense logically anyway):
Edward Nygma / Riddler
Riddler, like everyone else in this list, has never had a specified age, but given his experience and mind, I'd put him as being either Bruce Wayne's age, or somewhere less than 10 years older than him. Although, Val Kilmer was 36 when he played Batman in Batman Forever, while Jim Carrey was 33. Adam West was 38 and Frank Gorshin was 33. Meanwhile, John Glover (Riddler in the animated series) was 48 when Kevin Conroy was 37. So there are many variations, but that doesn’t matter because the Riddler won’t even be that old when Bruce in the show grows up. Assuming that Cory Michael Smith is playing his age (and I personally think he's playing younger, given his character's naivety and inexperience) of 29, that makes him 14 years older than David Mazouz. In other words:
Gotham timeline: Batman is 27. Riddler is 41. Maybe a little bit older than his comic book counterpart, but in no way ready for a retirement home. In fact, even if he was in a retirement home, he could still operate, given he works based on his mind and not physically.
Jonathan Crane / Scarecrow
Jonathan Crane in the comics is a professor who’s disillusioned with his life. He is thus perceived as being at least mid-30s, making him at least 10 years older than Bruce. I'd personally peg him as mid-40s. In fact, he's played by a 46-year-old in the Arkham Asylum game and a 47-year-old in Batman: The Animated Series (against Kevin Conroy, who was 10 years younger). Batman Begins gives us something a little different with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale, 31) being two years older than Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy, 29). In the show, he is three years older than Bruce Wayne (being played by someone who is now 18 to Mazouz’s 15).
Gotham timeline: Batman is 27, Scarecrow is 30. Definitely no old folks home for Scarecrow. In fact, he might actually be TOO young.
Jerome / Joker
Joker has never had a specified age in the comics (I'd say he's about mid-30s). Mark Hamill was 41 when he went up against a 37-year-old Kevin Conroy Batman in Batman: The Animated Series, making him four years older. Meanwhile, opposite side of the spectrum, Heath Ledger was 28 when he went up against 34-year-old Christain Bale in The Dark Knight, making Batman six years older in that instance, again proving that character age is up to interpretation. Cesar Romero was 59 when Adam West was 38 (21 years difference). In the 1989 Batman movie, Jack Nicolson (Joker) was 14 years older than Michael Keaton (Batman). Coincidentally, that same movie featured the actor Charles Roskilly playing young Bruce Wayne (somewhere between 8 and 15) confronting 24-year-old Hugo Blick's Jack Napier/Joker (making Joker between 9 and 16 years older than Bruce). The scene in question also raises the idea of why people were OK with such a massive origin change in the classic movie and hate the minor changes in Gotham (but that’s an argument for another time). In the show, Jerome is played by a 23-year-old, although his character is played as younger. But even still, he's only eight years older than Mazouz. Also, Jerome might not even be the Joker.
Gotham timeline: Batman is 27, "Joker" is 35.
Harvey Dent / Two Face
In the comics, Harvey Dent is a lawyer of many years who gets scarred and becomes Two Face. I'd peg his age at 30s, although he could definitely push 40s. Although, as this list will show, the actual possible age might be a little higher, especially when one considers what these actors are able to do at their age. In The Dark Knight, Christian Bale was 34 and Aaron Eckhart (Two Face) was 40, which is only six years difference. Richard Moll (Two Face) was 49 when he went up against 37-year-old Kevin Conroy in The Animated Series, making him 12 years older than Batman. Tommy Lee Jones was 49 when he played Two Face in Batman Forever, against the 36-year old Val Kilmer (13 years difference). While never actually becoming Two Face, Billy Dee Williams played Harvey Dent when he was 52 in 1989's Batman, against Michael Keaton, who was 38 at the time. Nicholas D'Agosto (36, although he definitely looks mid to late-20s) , who plays Dent in the show, was born in 1980, making him 21 years older than Mazouz.
Gotham timeline: Batman is 27. Two Face is 48. Pushing the boundaries in terms of his comic book counterpart, but if he's healthy it could work, and he’s definitely not anywhere close to an old person’s home.
Oswald Cobblepot / Penguin
In the comic books, Oswald Cobblepot is an old man. Some might say he's around 40 or 50, but he could definitely be much older, and his less physical position means that age is no matter to him. In 1992s Batman Returns, the 41-year-old Michael Keaton Batman went up against the 48-year-old Danny DeVito Penguin, who might've actually been playing a lot older. Kevin Conroy (37) in The Animated Series went up against the 52-year-old Paul Williams Penguin. On the possibly flipside, Kevin Conroy was 56 when his Batman (although he was presumably playing the 37-year-old version from the animated show) went against Nolan North (41) as Penguin in the 2011 video game Batman: Arkham City. Adam West was 38 when his Batman went up against the 59-year-old Burgess Meredith Penguin, making him 21 years older than Batman. Here's something really interesting: In Gotham, Robin Lord Taylor is clearly playing someone in their early-20s or possibly younger (due to the fact that he is called a kid and has a naivety close to that of someone at least under 25), but he's played by a 38-year-old, making him 23 years older than Mazouz.
Gotham Timeline: Batman is 27. Penguin is 50 (although given the character age Robin Lord Taylor is playing, he could definitely be 32 to 37 or maybe a little older). He isn't at retirement home age, and he’s definitely at his comic book age.
Tommy Elliot / Hush
Not like he has much of a role besides a cameo, but he's Bruce's age in the comics and show, and played by someone only two years older than David Mazouz.
Gotham Timeline: Batman is 27. Hush is 29.
Roman Sionis / Black Mask
Roman Sionis hasn't been introduced in the show, but someone who could be his father (Richard Sionis) has been introduced. The actor is 47, so the character's son could definitely be Bruce Wayne’s age.
Court Of Owls
Little joke here because the Court of Owls doesn't have an age; they're an organization present throughout the entirety of the history of Gotham.
Gotham timeline: Batman is 27. Court of Owls is any age you want it to be.
Victor Zsasz / Mr. Zsasz
Mr. Zsasz is a criminal that has etched what looks to be hundreds of death marks into his skin. That would take a while. I'd say he’s about 30s-40s. Anthony Carrigan plays him in the show, but I couldn't find his age online, so I can't really make an example out of him, but when Tim Booth appeared for a few seconds as Zsasz in Batman Begins when he was 45 and Christian Bale (Batman) was 31, so that's 14 years difference. I don't think Anthony Carrigan is much older than that (29). Obviously though this is a very tenuous situation in comparison to the others.
Gotham timeline: Batman is 27. Zsasz is (assuming Carrigan is mid-30s now) 47.
Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze
I'll be honest, I haven't watched past any of the current superhero shows past their 2015-16 midseason finale because of certain situations, so I haven't actually seen Freeze in action (but I will soon and then I can edit this fully, although I highly doubt it’ll change that much). In the comics, Freeze is an older man who is pining over his wife of many years. He needs the suit to move around for some reason, which could suggest he's actually very old and is being cryogenically kept alive. My personal opinion is that he's in his 50s-60s. George Clooney (in Batman and Robin) played Batman when he was 36 and Freeze (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) was 50. That's 14 years difference and Freeze was in his 50s. Many didn't like the movie, or even Freeze, but they were fine with his age. Kevin Conroy was 37 when he voiced Batman in The Animated Series episode that made Freeze relatable - "Heart of Ice." Michael Ansara (Freeze) was 70 at the time. That's 33 years difference. Nathan Darrow plays him in the show and he’s currently 40, making him 25 years older than Mazouz.
Gotham timeline: Batman is 27, Freeze is 52.
Selina Kyle / Catwoman
Catwoman is about Batman's age, and Camren Bicondova is about David Mazouz’s age (two years older than him), and she's played that way. Case closed. But for the sake of pointing out how it's been done before, Michelle Pfeiffer was 34 in Batman Returns, seven years younger than the 41-year old Michael Keaton Batman. Anne Hathaway was 30 when Christian Bale was 38 in The Dark Knight Rises, making her eight years younger. Lee Meriwether was 31 in Batman: The Movie when Adam West was 38, making her seven years younger. It's interesting that in all these live-action appearances, Catwoman was 7-8 years younger than the Batman's of that product. On the flip side, the 37-year-old Kevin Conroy went up against a 47-year-old Catwoman (Adrienna Barbeau) in The Animated Series and the 56-year-old Conroy went against a 38-year-old Grey Griffin as Catwoman in Batman: Arkham Asylum (interesting because if he’s playing he's 37-year-old batman, she's one year older, and if not, he's 18 years older than her). Following up on Catwoman being one year older, in the original Batman series, Adam West was 38 when Earth Kitt's Catwoman was 39.
Gotham timeline: Batman is 27. Catwoman is 29.
Ivy Pepper (Pamela Isley) / Poison Ivy
In the comics, Poison Ivy is young, about Bruce Wayne's age. She could be older given her immense knowledge and plant-like body though. George Clooney was 36 when he played Batman in Batman and Robin against the 27-year-old Uma Thurman Poison Ivy, making her nine years younger. In Batman: Arkham Asylum, Poison Ivy was played by a 42-year-old Tasia Valenza against the 54-year-old Kevin Conroy (although again, he might’ve been playing his 37-year-old Batman, making him either five years younger or 12 years older). In the show though, as with Selina Kyle, Ivy Pepper is played as being the same age as Bruce Wayne. Clare Foley (Ivy) is born in the same year as David Mazouz. This is of course ignoring the changes to her age in Season 3, as we still haven't got a clear understanding of what the situation behind that is and whether it's reversible.
Gotham timeline: Batman is 27. Poison Ivy is 27.
Hugo Strange, in the comics, is an old man with surprising athletic abilities due to an intense regimen. Hugo Strange operates in the shadows and could definitely be in his 60s, since age isn’t really a hindrance to him, although he generally looks to be in his 40s or 50s. In The Animated Series, he's played by 49-year-old Ray Buktenica against the 37-year-old Kevin Conroy Batman. In Batman: Arkham City he’s played by 56-year-old Corey Burton, against a 56-year-old Kevin Conroy (so they could be the same age, but if he's playing his 37-year-old Batman, then Hugo Strange is 19 years older). BD Wong plays Strange in the show (a role which I have yet to see, for the same reason I haven't seen Freeze, so I don’t know if he's playing younger), and he's born in 1960, making him 41 years older than David Mazouz.
Gotham timeline: Batman is 27. Hugo Strange is 68. Following on my gesture of good faith, he gets pretty close, so I guess you win this one.
Jervis Tetsch / Mad Hatter
Mad Hatter is an older character in the comics, probably 40s youngest. Roddy McDowall was 64 when he voiced Mad Hatter in The Animated Series (and Kevin Conroy, playing Batman, was 37 at the time). Peter MacNicol was 55 when he voiced Mad Hatter in the first Arkhamverse game. Benedict Samuel, the actor they got for Season 3 to play Mad Hatter, is 28 (although he could be playing younger), making him 13 years older than Mazouz.
Gotham timeline: Batman is 27. Mad Hatter is 40.
So To Sum Up, What Does This All Mean?
Well first of all, this doesn't have to mean anything. This could very well just be a time-wasting activity for me, but I had fun, so that part doesn't really matter. So here are the salient points of the piece:
1. The "retirement home" jokes make absolutely no sense, considering only one (Hugo Strange, assuming he isn't playing younger, who I actually surprisingly haven’t heard THAT many complaints about) of the 14 villains mentioned will actually be anywhere close to a retirement home by the time David Mazouz is 27.
2. Not only will they not be close to retirement homes, but most of these characters are very close to their comic book counterparts. A good few are younger. The only other ones are far away from a retirement home and can still function as their characters for a fairly expansive amount of time.
3. Character age doesn't mean anything and is completely up to interpretation (as we have seen from the Jokers having 21 years difference to four years' difference), and hating something because it’s different to how you expected, proceeding to not care about the actual quality of those changes, is just an insane and irrational way to react to things.
4. Even if the ages are out-of-line with the comic books/movies (which they’re not anyway), that doesn’t mean anything since the show is its own thing. It may not even be leading up the Batman, it may be leading up to a different kind of Batman. What matters is the present, and the present in Gotham.
5. The actors in their 40s and 50s that play these characters both inside and outside of the show, still manage to play them without any real assistance, meaning they have the physical capacity to be the characters.
So, what're your thoughts on this madness? Did I miss anyone? Is it even bad if the ages are that far apart? Does age even matter when we're talking about people dressed as bats and people being kept alive in cryogenic suits that would negate any signs of aging? Are you OK with the show being its own universe? For what reasons do you like/dislike the show? What other issues annoy you that I should discuss next? Could it be the fact that characters are becoming supervillains without Batman present? Maybe about another show? Maybe about fan culture in general?
Check out another formative moment in Bruce's life with the many deaths of his parents:
Let's talk about it in the comments