To celebrate 75 years of one of the most iconic superheroes in history, Gotham brings light to the dark beginnings of Batman.
However, this isn’t a “Batman” show per se; rather, this is a “Commissioner James Gordon” show.
The O.C.’s Ben McKenzie stars as the rookie detective in the Gotham City Police Department. Before Jim becomes commissioner of the city, Gotham does everything it can to let audiences know that our protagonist is the good guy—in fact, he’s the best one there is. In a corrupt department run by the mob, Gordon is the lone moral compass.
The show begins with the start of Gordon’s career in Gotham. His first case is one that has been known by audiences for 75 years: the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Hopefully this is the last time that fans will see the death, because it’s a scene that’s been filmed the same way for years. Cue a dark alleyway and two dead bodies… We get it. It’s no surprise, though, that the show would begin this way, because who would want to see a show about a famous detective chasing down small-time, insignificant thugs? We don’t want to see a man in a black jumpsuit and a mask, we want the smiling maniac in his purple and green suit. In Gotham, you may just see why that archnemesis is smiling all the time.
Just as the DC Comics series tells the origins of Batman and Jim Gordon, Gotham also has some familiar faces and names made famous by the comics and film adaptations of the past few decades. Viewers should recognize one of the first characters seen in the show: a street-smart girl with feline movements, also seen feeding a cat later on. While I’m at it, I must mention a character who gets almost as much screen time as Gordon himself: a wobbling, hook-nosed, tuxedo-wearing servant who doesn’t like being called “Penguin”.
Full of what fanboys and girls call “Easter eggs”—fun little cameos and hints of the much wider Batman universe—Gotham’s first episode succeeds in showing fans the younger versions of well-established characters, and gives even better introductions for first-time watchers of all things Batman. If you want a show about a billionaire playboy by day and a cape-and-cowl-wearing vigilante by night, you’re not going to get one. However, if a new series that will expand your horizons on the origins of DC Comics characters is something that could pique even the interest of a Marvel fan (such as myself), then Gotham is the show for you.
The Gotham pilot has a very different take on Batman’s story; rather than focusing on Wayne’s life, Gotham’s storyline mainly revolves around James Gordon and Harvey Bullock, the detectives who attempt to trace Thomas and Martha Wayne’s murderer amid the corruption and organized crime in the city.
The premiere revealed Cobblepot’s transformation into Penguin and gave us a glimpse of other notable villains, such as the Riddler, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and even the Joker. We were also introduced to Fish Mooney, who wants control over the crime in Gotham—this will eventually develop into the crime lord Falcone and his family.
Gotham also does justice to its predecessors; it handles Nolan’s realistic, sadistic portrayal of villains and the corruption present in the city as well as Burton’s artistically dark portrayal of the city. The episode also stays true to the origin story, right down to Martha’s pearls breaking in the alley after she is murdered. The actors have done a spectacular job portraying their characters, giving viewers a great superhero storyline and a thrilling crime show.
Jam-packed with familiar villains, the pilot of the highly anticipated Gotham premiered last Monday night. Unlike the usual depictions of Gotham, the show focused on Commissioner Gordon and the origin stories of many villains that we have come to know and love. It seemed to me, however, that the writers were trying too hard; way too many villains were introduced in a rush throughout the pilot. Too many characters getting introduced at once doesn’t leave room for much character development, so hopefully, later episodes will show backstories in a more refined manner. Otherwise, this episode did a good job of showing how the bond between a young Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon developed, something the Batman films didn’t really dwell on. All in all, the pilot was mediocre and it’s hard to say if a pre-Batman Gotham will be interesting enough for DC fans. But a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover.
Gotham’s pilot had tons of stuff to keep me interested. The spot-on cinematography and spine-chilling performances (especially from Jada Pinkett-Smith) captivated me right from the beginning. The episode established corruption and organized crime in Gotham City well, and watching Commissioner Gordon try to bring order back is definitely going to be interesting.
The episode wasn’t perfect, though. For starters, I felt the producers let Catwoman sneak around rooftops just to give audiences some camera pans of the city. The setting is also anachronistic; the cops are using flip phones and they’re driving around in cars that belong in the ’70s. The episode was also crammed with references to villains that comic fans could recognize in a second.
This show might not appeal to Batman fans, but let’s be real. Are you really not going to give Gotham a chance just because the caped crusader isn’t around? Today, TV shows and movies seem to be all about milking the superhero franchise, but this show is about a city getting ready for a superhero. The pilot might not be the best episode, but I think that this show is only going to get better.