Gotham, which will air this Fall, takes place shortly after the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, and focuses on Jim Gordon attempting to fight back against Gotham’s plague of organized crime. The show will include appearances from famous Batman antagonists like Catwoman, the Riddler and Poison Ivy, but it looks like the main villains will be the Penguin, and a crime boss played by Jada Pinkett Smith.
For DC’s flagship property in a new venture to introduce superheroes to TV audiences, Gotham looks weirdly conservative. Or at least, this trailer kind of does. The dialogue could have been lifted from any Batman movie of the past twenty years (“There is a war coming. A terrible war. There will be chaos, rivers of blood in the streets.”) and despite the absence of an actual Batman in the picture, there’s still an awful lot of men growling at each other about war and crime. Also, it looks like the earlier episodes will almost certainly focus heavily on the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, just in case anyone has forgotten Batman’s origin story in the two years since the Dark Knight trilogy repeatedly told us all about it.
Gotham has the potential to be a very interesting show. After all, Smallville somehow managed to run for ten seasons, and Clark Kent’s hometown never had the same impact on the Superman mythos as Gotham does on Batman.
This isn’t just an origin story for Bruce Wayne, but an origin story for the city itself, setting up a cast of characters who will feel familiar even to the most casual of Batman fans. And that’s the strength, here. While Marvel’s Netflix shows and most of the other DC TV series will have to work a little to engage new audiences, pretty much everyone knows the basics of Batman’s origins, and will at least vaguely remember a couple of villains out of the handful already promised for Gotham’s first season.
For this reason, Gotham would have a much easier time of building up an interesting and complex plot in the first few episodes, without having to spend ages setting the scene. The question is, will it? Admittedly this is just the first trailer, but it fills us with optimism in that regard. As the first live-action Batman show since Adam West was on TV in the ‘60s, Gotham already has a huge audience, no matter what. But in terms of style and content, this trailer doesn’t do much to set itself apart from any other urban crime drama.
Screenshot via Gothamsite