As a kid, I’ve always been fascinated by Batman. I guess you’d say my favorite individual superhero growing up was Batman – I loved the darkness, I loved his mortality, I loved the mystique, and I dug that Bruce Wayne wasn’t naturally endowed with superpowers. He was human, and thereby relatable. I guess I also just watched all of the Tim Burton Batman movies growing up so Batman is also nostalgic.
I’ve also been fascinated by origin stories – I totally appreciate the idea of exploring the untold history of different characters. In fact, I even based my senior film thesis on exploring origin stories of characters and villainous archetypes. Wicked is wildly successful as an origin story for The Wizard of Oz, Bates Motel is taking its turn at exploring the origins of Norman Bates pre-Psycho, and of course there was Smallville, a television show that will ring quite similar to the upcoming Gotham.
The interesting thing about Gotham is, instead of necessarily being just the Bruce Wayne story, it’s really an origin story for all the major players in the Gotham we’ve come to know. We step into the shoes of Det. James Gordon, to reveal Bruce Wayne’s history, as well as the history of the iconic villains. The ads mainly play up The Penguin and Catwoman, but we’re also promised introductions to Poison Ivy, the Riddler, and Two-Face as the season progresses. It appears as though things will really set into motion within the pilot, with Det. Gordon meeting Bruce after the murder of the Waynes, and the two striking an immediate kinship, so the development of Batman will definitely come into play. But we will be observing the developing underworld of Gotham through the eyes of the law – thus setting up Det. Gordon as the lead.
So far the trailer looks promising – my expectations of production value in TV has really gone up, and it certainly looks like Gotham will deliver. The show has already created a buzz over its cinematic quality. I have read some skepticism, though, about the story NOT having Batman as the centripetal force. What made Smallville so successful is we watched Superman grow up through the eyes of Superman himself. We have to use Det. Gordon as a gateway to Batman’s world. Not that Gordon isn’t as captivating a character. He’s just not the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “Gotham.”
But maybe the show will change my mind and put Det. Gordon to the forefront. I’ve been fairly nonplussed by the latest run of superhero stories in the media, so I’m looking forward to Gotham as a fresh take on the genre.