So the first couple of trailers for Gotham, the Fox network’s fancy pants new take on the origins of Gotham City (that place where Batman hangs out) in television form are out and my reactions are mixed at best.
The show has promise, mainly because it is Batman related and Batman has such a rich setting and characters that you really do not need him to tell great crime stories within the setting. See Gotham Central for a great Batman-less Batman comic. But where it falls down for me is in the presentation. The trailer is full of every cliché you can think of. Every single bit of corny “grim’n’gritty” dialogue is thrown into the mix as the show tries to sell itself on being a different kind of Batman story: The origin of everyone else apart from the one person who brings them all together. We see glimpses and flashes of the night the Wayne’s died and young Jim Gordon running about the city being a good cop in a bad town. It all seems like very surface level stuff. There is not much meat to it.
Like I said you do not need Batman to tell a good Batman story but the problem with Gotham is that it will be building the Batman mythology and characters without Batman which is the main problem I have with it. Batman as a character is so intrinsically tied into the origins of many of his iconic villains that showing their beginnings without him does them a disservice. This is mainly because all of Batman’s best villains are a dark reflection of a part of who Batman/Bruce Wayne is. You can get away with the Penguin kicking about the place because he comes from an old money family that helped build up the city along with the Waynes and the Kanes. That makes perfect sense. Show how his greed completely and utterly corrupts him over time. That is great and it gives the show a long term character to really play around with. But then you have characters like The Riddler being thrown into the mix which is troubling. Before Batman, Edward Nigma is just meant to be a puzzle obsessed nobody. It is Batman’s legendary intelligence and detective skills that drive Nigma to become The Riddler from a need to prove he is the smartest there is. The current Zero Year story-arc in the Batman comics shows this brilliantly. It is the New 52 origin for both Batman and The Riddler and highlights that they are very much two sides of the same coin.
Then due to the time that the show is set in we get a bunch of younger versions of future villains that just opens up a huge can of worms. There are child actors everywhere! Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle to a less extent I can understand but seriously what is the point of having a young Pamela Isley forebodingly hanging around some plants. It is a completely needless addition. Next thing we will see a young Bruce Wayne bump into a young Talia Al Ghul with a young Joker in tow!
Thankfully one of the good things about Gotham is that the show seems to be moving away from the cold “realism” of Nolan’s Batman films. The trailers still have a dark tone to them and there is the feeling of the city being on the brink of a major shift but still the is a sense of life and colour to the setting and the characters. Which is great! It is putting some life back into the franchise and will hopefully give things a more comic book like edge to them.
So for now I am very much on the fence and me being more excited about a Flash TV show than a Batman one speaks volumes about my current feelings.
Still it could surprise me, it could be really good!