As we wait for ‘Gotham’ to return, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on how the show fits (or rather not fits) with the Batman continuity. Spoilers follow:
1. James Gordon is more vigilante than cop:
Long before Batman worked outside the law Jim Gordon played the vigilante. The biggest difference between the two isn’t the costume, it’s the gun. More than that, it’s what the gun can do–kill. Gordon kills people. Bad people, sure, but sometimes defenseless people. In the comics, Commissioner Gordon often acts as a moral rock in Bruce’s darker moments. Maybe the writers of ‘Gotham’ plan on redeeming their lead character in the coming seasons, but they better hope it stays on the air a few more years because Jim’s got a long way to go. So far he succeeded in his goal to clean up the dirty cops in the GCPD only to become one himself.
2. Batman no longer influences the rise of the villains:
A recurring idea explored in Bat-media is that Batman, in a way, created the villains terrorizing his city. Gordon summed it up in the Joker tease concluding ‘Batman Begins’ with the comment “escalation.” A guy dressed up like a crazy person taking crime fighting to an extreme inspires crazy people committing extreme crimes. Well, not in ‘Gotham’. The majority of Batman’s rogues are either already active or have origins established before Bruce hits puberty. I kind of like this ‘Gotham’ edit, honestly. The idea that Batman actually made his city worse always rubbed me the wrong way, but the uncertainty of it was compelling.
3. Most the villains have an extra twenty years on Bruce:
According to ‘Gotham’, Batman will be punching guys twenty years his senior one day. This undermines the skill level required to be Batman. I mean, I could beat up most old guys. Luckily, the women are more young Master Wayne’s grade, ensuring future romances will not be too creepy.
In season two of ‘Gotham’, the best episodes featured a circus kid who certainly looked like he would be the future clown prince of crime. He should have been. Instead, he died inspiring Joker-like sociopaths everywhere. The idea that the Joker inspires the insane is fine, but only when the Joker does it. Now that this kid did it, it makes the guy Batman eventually faces an unoriginal copycat. Way to minimize the importance of one of the most influential bad guys in fiction.
5. Riddler is more schizophrenic than Two Face:
On his journey from under appreciated corpse nerd to homicidal clue master, Edward Nygma’s personality splintered. It’s a decent way to show how one goes insane, but there’s a problem. Multiple personality disorder is Harvey Dent’s thing. Dent is also on ‘Gotham’ and now a similar depiction of schizophrenia will seem overdone. At least the Riddler has apparently settled on remaining the more murdery personality for the time being.
6. Barbara is super nuts:
Seriously, Barbara Kean, the lady Gordon was supposed to have kids with is nutso. Commissioner Gordon’s ex-wife isn’t always perfectly sane in the comics, and she did give birth to a crazy kid (not Batgirl, the other one) but the ‘Gotham’ Barbara is other-level crazy. I don’t know how Gordon could have kids with her now or why he’d name any daughter after her.
7. Matches Malone killed the Waynes?
This is still unclear on ‘Gotham’, but the name Malone has been dropped by a guy claiming to know who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne. This would be different from the comics on a few levels. Matches Malone was a small time crook who accidentally died which allowed Batman to use the Malone identity to gain intel on the underworld. The guy who killed the Waynes is either never known or a guy named Joe Chill, depending on continuity. Matches Malone could have killed the Waynes on ‘Gotham’, adding yet another continuity. Yay.
8. Leslie Thompkins getting down with Gordon:
Leslie Thompkins was a mother figure to Bruce in most Bat-media without much of a connection to Gordon. I understand Gordon needs a love interest and Barbara obviously can’t be it anymore, so Thompkins works, I guess. Season 2 ended with her pregnancy announcement so…I’m confused. Is she having the future Batgirl now? Who knows.
9. Team Gordon-Cobblepot
The Penguin is the best part of Gotham, but he’s not a good influence on Jim Gordon. Somehow Cobblepot always manages to appear as the lesser of two evils, resulting in regular cop-criminal team-ups. The result tends to be Penguin gaining more power or influence and Gordon pushing one crisis off to the next one. I remember when Gordon was all judgy about Bullock doing the very same thing. One day Gordon may finally take down Penguin instead of enabling him, but we all know that will be temporary at best.
10. Batman and Catwoman go way back:
Not since Clark and Luthor coincidentally both grew up in Smallville has a TV show retconned a hero/villain relationship so far back. It works here as a way to get Bruce involved in the plot, but it makes most other depictions of the grown-up characters impossible. How could Batman and Catwoman ever not know each other’s identities, for instance? Bruce shouldn’t have to be the World’s Greatest Detective to figure that out now.
Gotham changed things up, but the real question is, do you like these changes?
‘Gotham’ returns Monday, February 29 on Fox.