Gotham Weaves a Tale of Gordon’s Journey Before Batman
Welcome to a Batman universe where the Dark Knight doesn’t exist. Welcome to Gotham.
The new Fox series tells the story of rookie police detective James “Jim” Gordon as he attempts to navigate the criminal labyrinth of a pre-Batman Gotham City. His first big case? Investigating the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne, witnessed by their 12-year-old son Bruce.
We soon find out that this crime is not just the flashpoint for the Batman epic. It also sets in motion a number of events that will put Gotham City itself on a dark and uncertain path.
Rather than taking the easy way out with its protagonist, Gotham portrays Gordon as more than a Boy Scout. He’s ethical and principled but also a realist who eventually accepts the fact that, in this city, the shortest distance between crime and justice isn’t always a straight line.
Equally interesting, if not more so, is Gordon’s partner Harvey Bullock. At first he seems like a stereotype of the down-at-the-heels bad cop, hip flask and all. By the end of the first episode, though, the viewer catches a glimpse or two of true character underneath his seedy exterior. There’s also Gordon’s fiancée Barbara, who has considerably more layers than the long-suffering “woman behind the man” known by fans of the Batman comics.
Last but not least, don’t forget about young Bruce Wayne. He comes across as a tragic figure, but the show also reveals some flashes of the steely, implacable rage that will eventually give rise to his alter ego.
A Cavalcade of Bad Guys
Gotham makes a point of cleverly introducing some of the most famous antagonists from the Batman universe, as they exist within the show’s timeline. In fact, the first character to appear on-screen is a teenage pickpocket who displays a, shall we say, catlike grace.
We also make the acquaintance of:
- A police forensics technician who’s fond of riddles
- An umbrella-toting criminal henchman with an unfortunate resemblance to a certain breed of aquatic bird
- A young girl named Ivy who has a real talent for horticulture
- A fledgling standup comedian with a taste for dark humor
In addition to supervillains-in-waiting, the city’s criminal element has plenty of less exotic but equally formidable players. Chief among them is mob boss Carmine Falcone, who expresses genuine concern for the city’s well-being (imagine Tony Soprano as president of the Gotham City Chamber of Commerce).
The show’s creators also invented a new character totally unrelated to the Batman Comics – sultry female crime lord Fish Mooney.
Same Gordon Time, Same Gordon Channel
Although the show’s central character is a detective, don’t tune in expecting to see CSI: Gotham City. In a town this corrupt, every case has loose ends that slither like vipers. Don’t expect any costumed swashbuckling, either. Law and order wears a badge instead of a cape.
So it’s not really a police procedural or a superhero vehicle. It may have a few elements of both genres, but Gotham obviously aims to find its own place in the entertainment landscape.
The result so far? A stylish, well-crafted one-hour drama that even non-Batman fans can appreciate. Stay tuned …