For a little while now, I’ve been unexcited about the concept behind FOX’s upcoming Batman prequel, GOTHAM. I don’t know if it’s because Smallville teased me for a decade or because I was more excited for Heroes than I have ever beenabout any other show. Ever.
You should note that these criticisms have nothing to do with what we’ve seen of GOTHAM at all. And that’s fair. The cast looks great. The trailer actually looks pretty amazing.
But I guess I just don’t see the point. I wouldn’t be shocked if some of the show had been inspired by Gotham Central, which I quite enjoyed. The premise being what super crime in Gotham looks like from the street view the cops have.
But the takeaway of these stories for me is that there need to be superheroes. Which I totally agree with, but why would I want to watch a show that doesn’t have any?
A Different Kind of Show
So if I were doing GOTHAM, I think the first thing I would do is get rid of Gotham City. It’s too well-known and the idea of Batman is so provocative you risk creating a Batman babies program with kid Catwoman and young Joker. I say forget that noise. Instead, I would do a completely generic police procedural like you see on TNT. There would be dramatic scenes, compelling music, and beautiful, brooding protagonists staring directly at the screen a la Rizzoli and Iles or Cold Case.
And I would keep it completely mundane for the entire first season. Just the typical one-shot criminals and police drama. And then in the second season, a few episodes in, I would hit the protagonists with their first supervillain. No one knows where he or she came from or why they do it. All the cops know is they’re darn near unstoppable and they barely run them out of town.
At this point, careful observers might have noticed the tiniest hints of weirdness around the edges of the first season that foreshadowed something else going on. And then the show would go back to normal for a little bit while everyone wondered what the #$?! was going on.
And the show would carry on like that for a while. Normal police procedural that occasionally sees a supervillain pop in a do something crazy. It would be a subtle escalation that tests the limits of our heroes and gives a true view of what everyday life looks like when you have to live in a world with superpowers.
And then around season 4 the first superhero would show up. Just out of the blue, after the cops are getting used to just barely winning and seeing friends die at the hands of super crazies, a masked vigilante shows up and changes the game.
And this is where it gets really interesting. The show turns out to have been a hero origin story the whole time, but from the perspective of our dynamic police force. And like the cops, the show doesn’t reveal who the hero is or how they became what they are. Instead we’re left guessing if it’s one of the supporting cast or some bit criminal from season 1. Could just be some guy no one knows.
Maybe eventually the police even form an alliance, if they ever figure out he’s not just another nut job and stop trying to arrest him.
And I would have the story arcs for each season pre-written, so we could lay down clues and foreshadow events years out.
At least that’s how I would do it, with nods to sources like Gotham Central,Irredeemable, and Nemesis –works I’m stealing from in spirit if not directly.
It would be a long con for sure, and I expect no basic cable station would want anything to do with it in the age of instant gratification television. And if it did get a first season, there would be the constant threat of cancellation. But imagine audience reaction once it started to get real. And maybe this kind of show is too conceptual for modern television. Hard to say, but I do think we live in an embarrassment of superhero riches. As the genre’s creative boundaries stretch further and further, maybe some enterprising, young artists will read this and steal it.
In honor of the 75th Anniversary of Batman, I’ve decided to write about my favorite hero of all time, The Caped Crusader.
“You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” [image prop. of Warner Bros.]
One my fondest childhood nerd memories was when I went to see Tim Burton’s 1989 classic (and I legitimately mean that), Batman, starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. I was only six or seven at the time, but for me it was a life-changing experience. The moment when he was holding the purse-snatching thug over the side of the building and the thug frantically asks, “What are you?”, and Gotham’s Dark Knight replied in his fearsome, non-just-gargled-glass tone, “I’m Batman.” He then tossed the terrified scumbag back to the roof and leaped off into the shadows of the city. I had goosebumps when I first experienced that scene and have every time since then. That was the moment when I knew Batman was my superhero, the hero that would forever be the paramount of all heroes. None would ever compare to him and none have, save for The Doctor, who could ever only tie with him.
Just in case you need your memory jogged, this is the moment:
Growing up, I was a Batman fanatic. I had toys, I had t-shirts, I had comic books and anything else I could get my hands on. I was obsessed. I used to run around the yard or the playground pretending to be Batman. I would sit and watch reruns of the ’60s Batman television series with Adam West and Burt Ward. When I received an original Game Boy for Christmas one year, one of the first games I got was Batman: Return of the Joker. I almost wore out the cartridge playing from playing it so much. I lost count of how many times that I beat the Joker. I could not get enough of Batman.
He was the best kind of hero: incredibly intelligent and clever, strong, agile, trained in many styles of martial arts, and resourceful. He was rich, which when I was a kid, was freaking sweet. He was a detective, using his brains to solve crimes instead of running around beating the confessions out criminals. He had the best costume in comic books. And he didn’t kill, which I tend to disagree with every now and then, but it’s an admirable gesture. My favorite thing about him was that he was human. He wasn’t a super-powered alien or a robot or a god, nor was he given powers by some sort freak accident. He was just a regular guy using his brain and the gadgets he made to clean up the streets of Gotham.
Batman: The Animated Series [image prop. of Warner Bros.]
Throughout the years, my admiration has never wavered, never faltered. Even with some less than desirable mishaps in the adaptations of the character (Batman & Robin), I’ve always stayed true. Thankfully, there have been more good than bad when it comes to Batman on the big and small screens.
For example, Batman: The Animated Series, which is widely regarded as the best adaptation of the Dark Knight ever to be created. I wholeheartedly agree. The superior writing, the phenomenal animation work by Bruce Timm, and the outstanding voice acting from Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (Joker) that will forever be ingrained into the memory banks of every fan of the show. If you haven’t watched every episode of that entire series at least once, you haven’t truly lived. I mean seriously…what have you been doing with your life?!
Here’s one of my favorite episode’s, Joker’s Favor:
Most, if not all, of the other animated version have been exceptionally entertaining but none so much as Batman: TAS. It’s quite difficult to live up to its perfection. The Batman, Batman Beyond, The Dark Knight Returns Parts 1 & 2, and pretty much any other animated version that came out were all done remarkably well, especially Batman Beyond. It was essentially a sequel to TAS, but its story took place in a future Gotham where Batman had become to old and broken to continue on. He had hung up his cape and cowl and chose to retire until a young man by the name of Terry McGinnis came along and took up the mantle. Once again, the series was blessed with excellent writers, stories, characters, and voice actors, which makes this series a close second to the greatness of TAS. Will Friedle (Eric Matthews from Boy Meets World) was a fantastic choice to voice Terry. Beyond is another series that needs to be viewed multiple times just because it’s that good. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, an animated movie continuation of the series, is a top notch choice for multiple viewings. For a children’s animated film, it was actually somewhat disturbing, but not in a bad way.
The movies were another story though. They started off really well and then descended on a downward spiral with each sequel. Tim Burton brought Batman to life in 1989 with the first of two films (Batman Returns being the second), starring Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight. Keaton’s Batman is my absolute favorite version of the character. To me, he was the perfect Bruce Wayne and Batman. He was dark and menacing, charming and aloof, heroic and fearless, all when needed to be. The films were dark in their tone, just as they should’ve been, and the villains were amazing: Jack Nicholson as The Joker, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and Danny DeVito as the Penguin created three of the best villains ever to grace the screen.
Then 1995 came along, Tim Burton and Michael Keaton didn’t want to continue doing the films, so Joel Schumacher and Val Kilmer took over as director and star, respectively. Things changed rather quickly with Batman Forever. The scenery was dark but not as dreary, everything turned neon and bright, and the villains became a little more over the top. They introduced an older Robin, changed Harvey Dent from black to white, and cast Jim Carrey as the Riddler. Actually, Carrey’s version of the Riddler was one of my favorites. Yes it was a bit over the top, but if you pay close attention, it’s not hard to tell that it’s a homage to Frank Gorshin’s version from ’60s series. I don’t hate this film, I rather enjoy it.
Now as for 1997’s Batman & Robin, that’s a whole ‘nother story. I despise this poorly-written, over-acted, over-the-top, campy, cartoonish piece of trash with all of my being. George Clooney became Batman, Alicia Silverstone became Batgirl (and also Alfred’s niece, not the Commissioner’s daughter), Uma Thurman hammed it up as Poison Ivy, Bane became a mindless henchman, and Arnold Schwarzenegger took a huge dump on my favorite Batman villain, Mr. Freeze. HUGE DUMP. I have never been so appalled by a film in all my life, and it’s mostly because of his performance. It makes me sick just thinking about it. This film is such a blemish on the film history of Batman that most fans, including myself, completely disregard it as part of the series. It makes Phantom Menace look like Citizen Kane.
Awful. Just awful. [image prop. of Warner Bros.]
Luckily, eight years later, Christopher Nolan came along and rebooted the films with Batman Begins. In doing so, he also restored my faith in cinema as well as humanity. This film essentially brought Batman out of the comic book and into the real world. Nolan gave the Batman mythos depth and grounded it in reality, making viewers feel as Batman was flesh and blood and not some cartoon character. Begins was the start of one the best film trilogies ever, followed by The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Christian Bale did a remarkable job with the characters of Batman and Bruce Wayne, although his Batman voice did need a bit of work. He was able to capture the character in a way that rivaled what Keaton had done before. And with TDK, we were graced with the greatest interpretation of The Joker that we may ever see, thanks to the late Heath Ledger. Such a sadistic and homicidal, yet still hilarious, version that even Jack Nicholson’s version pales in comparison. And I will fight anyone who says differently (not really though). It was a sad day when Nolan declared that he would not be continuing with the series after the third film, after he had done such amazing things with it already. An even sadder day came when it was announced that Ben Affleck would be taking over as Batman, but that’s a rant for another time.
And let’s not forget about the games, mainly just the Arkham series, because pretty much every other Batman game has sucked. Except for Batman: Return of the Joker for the original Gameboy, of course. If you want to experience what it’s like to be Batman but don’t have billions of dollars to buy all the gear and don’t feel like getting the crap kicked out of you, then play the Arkham series. Well written, well designed, and they brought back Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill! Truly some of the best games ever made and worth every minute you’ll spend completely engrossed in them.
But I think I may have gotten off topic… What Batman means to me. For me, and I know this may sound corny, Batman has always been a hero. He’s a sign of hope in even the most grim of situations. A light in the darkness, if you will, even though he dwells in the darkness. He’s justice when there is none, courage in a city that is drowning in fear, strength even when the world breaks your back and leaves you for dead. As a kid, when I was afraid, pretending to be him or asking myself “What would Batman Do?” helped me to overcome a great deal of fear. Some might say there are other real heroes to look up to, but to me, he was real. He was the hero I needed in the worst of times. He was a mortal human who fought a great deal of injustice and super-powered villains and never faltered. He just kept fighting. He’d keep going if it killed him. He was and always will be a great protector. And in my opinion will always be a greater and more powerful hero than Superman ever could be. The fact that he could die at any moment, be killed by any foe he faces, and yet he continues fighting and protecting and making sure justice is served, without killing, is what makes him so incredible. Out of his greatest tragedy (the murder of his parents), he has gathered the courage and strength to become the greatest hero that Gotham, and the world, has ever seen. And because of that he has become the one of the greatest heroes many in the real world, including myself, have ever seen.
To me, Batman is courage, strength, hope, determination, intelligence, kindness, justice, and so many other wonderful things that have helped make me the person I am today. And I will continue to use what I have learned for the rest of my days. I will pass this knowledge on to my children and I will teach them about the greatness of Batman and how truly spectacular he is and what they can learn from him. He will forever be a part of who I am.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get better than Batman: Arkham Origins, this happened:
That’s right, Rocksteady is back with Batman: Arkham Knight. Everyone thought they were done with the franchise and Warner Bros. Games Montreal would be taking over the series, but while you were busy with Origins, they were secretly creating the grand finale that is Arkham Knight.
I want to drive it SOOOOOOOO bad!
From the trailer, you can see that Two-Face and the Penguin have returned to wreak more havoc and carnage on the city of Gotham. It has also been announced that the legendary Kevin Conroy has returned to voice Batman, as it should be. And it appears that Batman is more armored than he has ever been, so I’m gonna say that there will be a MASSIVE amount of fighting in this game. Best bit of news that I’ve heard is that the Batmobile will be drivable! ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME?!?! The beastly-looking, Tumbler-style Batmobile is drivable. Thank you very much, Rocksteady. If you were real, I would hug you.
Unfortunately for me, this game will only be for Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Windows. I do not currently have either of the two systems and my computer is not powerful enough to run a game as incredible as this will be. If anyone would like to donate either a Xbox One, a Playstation 4, and/or a powerful gaming computer to me before this game comes out, I’ll be waiting a while to play it. Sad face.
In other Batman-related news, Gotham has cast its Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. Fox has cast David Mazouz as the preteen Bruce Wayne and Camren Bicondova as teenage Selina Kyle before she became Catwoman. Bicondova is a newcomer, while Mazouz recently co-starred with Kiefer Sutherland on Fox’s Touch. Along with following Gordon’s pre-Batman years with Gotham P.D., the show will also follow Selina’s early days as a thief and pickpocket. However, the show will also follow a young Bruce Wayne after his parents were killed and before he becomes Batman, which means we may be looking at a lot of crying and whining and tantrums about how unfair it is that his parents were taken away from him. I’m sure we’re in for some rebellious acting out and more things of the like. The first season might get annoying for Bruce’s story, at least until he starts training. Hopefully it’ll be more of a background story to Gordon’s tale.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another. If someone’s not remaking or rebooting something, they’ve gotta make a prequel or an origin story. Granted, it’s more satisfying to watch the latter two (except for the Star Wars prequels). In most cases it can be quite interesting to see how your favorite character(s) came to be.
I’m just wondering how Ben McKenzie is going to look with that sweet Jim Gordon mustache.
This is definitely the case for Fox’s upcoming series, Gotham. Based in Batman’s hometown, the series follows everyone’s favorite Batman ally, Jim Gordon, as he begins his career with Gotham P.D. Long before he was Commissioner Gordon, he was just a rookie cop trying to keep Gotham City safe. Not the easiest thing to do in such a broken city, where the city officials and police officers are just as corrupt as the criminals, if not more.
Hopefully they’ll focus less on Bruce going through puberty and more on him going through training.
The show will also be focusing on an adolescent Bruce Wayne after the tragic death of his parents, following him throughout his youth and teenage years, as he gains all the worldly knowledge that he’ll need to become the Caped Crusader. Honestly, I’m not quite sure how entertaining all of that is going to be. The later years should be more interesting than the earlier but the writers are bound to find a way to make it all exciting. Something about Bruce Wayne attending private school and sitting through classes just makes me yawn. Might have to fast-forward through those scenes. Once he gets into his training and preparation, that’s where the fun will start.
A plus side to the show is that you’ll get to see how some of Batman’s greatest foes came to be. The Joker, the Penguin, Catwoman, and many others will have their origins told but instead of fighting the Dark Knight, they’ll have to contend with the tough-as-nails Jim Gordon. It’ll be interesting to see if they use the “Red Hood” origin story to introduce the Joker or if they’ll find a brand new way. If they keep with the proper timeline of things, we probably won’t get to see Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, the Riddler, or Scarecrow, but you never know. We may get to see their pre-villainous forms, which could still be intriguing.
Can he be the tough, honest cop that Gotham needs?
So far, there is a basic cast list for the show, just some of the main characters so far. Ben McKenzie as Jim Gordon, which I’m all for because he’s actually a really good actor and can totally make it work. If you want proof, watch Southland. Donal Logue as Gordon’s partner, Harvey Bullock, is another solid casting choice. He’s one of my favorite actors and will pull off the rough-around-the-edges cop role nicely. Sean Pertwee, son of the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, will play the role of Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s caregiver and protector. He’s got the “middle-aged, ex-marine Alfred” look to him. So far, only two villains have been cast: Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot (aka The Penguin) and Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney, a sadistic crime gangster and nightclub owner, as well as Oswald’s boss. Both very interesting choices and I’m excited to see what they do with the roles.
From the first announcement of it, I’ve gone back and forth with this show. I was okay with it when they said it was going to focus on Gordon and the Gotham P.D. Then there was a rumor that the show was going to be more like Smallville, with Bruce and the villains being in high school together, which I was completely against because it’s a ridiculous idea. But now with the confirmation of the way the show is actually going to be, I’m more excited than ever about Gotham. I shall remain skeptical however, as I have been let down before by comic-book-to-television adaptations (Birds of Prey). As I grow older, I learn with every new adaptation to reserve judgement until the final product is revealed. So until it premieres, I’ll will remain excited, yet reserved.
What are your thoughts on Gotham? Post your comments in the comments section.