Gotham, FOX's Batman prequel TV series, just had a big day. The Gotham TV serieswas given a 13 episode series order, so we can expect weekly doses of Gotham City starting this fall. More importantly, its first trailer was unveiled (and you can watch it right here).
That rather cinematic two-minute trailer wasn't shy about showing off as much Batman-related imagery as possible. On the other hand, we're struck by how it wasn't quite as stylized as the initial promo images had led us to believe it might be. Anyway, if what you're looking for is Batman-lore, Gotham appears to have it by the cape load. Let's take a look at a few things that struck us...
For a fictional city, Gotham City looks an awful lot like Manhattan in that establishing shot, doesn't it? No surprise there, of course. Gotham has long had echoes of NYC, most literally in the influential Frank Miller stories and entire sections of the Dark Knight Rises. While this is certainly a composite cityscape, the similarities aren't accidental.
Could this be Dennis Rees as Commissioner Loeb from Batman: Year One?
That's Donal Logue as "rough around the edges" Detective Harvey Bullock, a man who "plays loose with police procedure, but gets results — and he does so with old-school, hard-ass panache."
That appears to be Zabryna Guevara as Captain Sarah Essen in the background. Essen is "Gordon’s boss at the GCPD Homicide Squad, who balances the worlds of police and politics with a Machiavellian skill that’s as much corporate litigator as cop." Batman: Year One readers may remember the role she ends up playing in Gordon's personal life, as well.
And the hero of our story, Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) giving his partner the side-eye when "killers, robbers, and rapists" are mentioned. Bullock almost certainly isn't a bad guy on this show, but there's clearly going to be some conflict with the way he does things and the way the more idealistic Gordon thinks they should be done.
Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald "The Penguin" Cobblepot, who is described as having the "brains of a chess grandmaster and the morals of a jackal, Cobblepot is a low-level psychopath for gangster Fish Mooney who hides his sadistic lust for power behind an exquisitely polite demeanor." Clearly, he's having a rough day at the hands of the Gotham City Police Department.
What is this "war" coming that he's talking about? "There will be chaos. Rivers of blood in the streets." Is Mr. Cobblepot just talking about the hordes of supercriminals who will one day make Gotham their playground? Could he be referring to something larger (like Ra's al Ghul and the League of Shadows), perhaps? His bloody nose reminds us a little of the Penguin in Batman Returns.
Harvey Bullock sits down at a greasy spoon, sets his hat, a bottle of antacid, and a flask of booze on the bar. That's worth a chuckle. More importantly, though...that appears to be Andrew Stewart-Jones as Crispus Allen. Allen was introduced in Detective Comics #742 before becoming a regular character in Gotham Central, a series that may have considerable influence on this show. Even more importantly to DC Comics fans, Crispus Allen eventually becomes The Spectre!
A few interesting things here. First of all, that's Fish Mooney's club, which is where we imagine the center of a lot of the criminal activity on this show will stem from, especially since the Penguin is one of her lieutenants. In true Gotham City style, if a politician is in the middle of a campaign (as the current Mayor appears to be), he's either honest but impotent (and therefore, doomed) or he's corrupt (and, eventually, doomed).
That isn't a new car, by the way. Another indication that Gotham takes place in a lightly-stylized "timeless" period in the foggy, but not-too-distant past.
Jada Pinkett Smith is Fish Mooney, the colorful villain in residence in Gotham, and the Penguin's boss. Mooney is "an imposing, hotheaded and notoriously sadistic gangster boss and nightclub owner with street smarts and almost extra-sensory abilities to read people like an open book who is not one to be crossed." If only she knew just how much more colorful she will have to be to hang on to power in a town like Gotham City.
This can't end well. How many times have we seen the Waynes meet their end on film, now? Nevertheless, it looks like Gotham is going to give us the most brutal and graphic version of it we've yet seen.
Joe Chill, we presume? On the other hand, since it looks like Gotham is pulling from all facets of Batman mythology, the completely hidden face indicates that this could be someone more important, especially since the murder of the Waynes is the deeper mystery that drives Detective Jim Gordon. Could this gent also be the man who eventually becomes the Joker, ala Tim Burton's Batman? We wouldn't rule it out. Also, like Batman Begins, the shockwaves that the Wayne murder sends through the city may be the tipping point...
While we didn't get a glimpse of Martha Wayne's pearls this time around, this is virtually a direct panel-to-screen translation of the immediate aftermath of the Wayne murders, particularly the cover of Batman #404, the first chapter of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's Batman: Year One.
Jim Gordon's kindness to the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) in the wake of his parents' death is something which we've seen in several iterations of the legend, perhaps most notably in Batman Begins. It's now once again a major factor in the comics as well, with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman: Zero Year story. There's a reason Batman trusts Gordon once he starts his crusade, and it looks like we're going to see all of that in detail on Gotham.
What can only be the funeral for the Waynes. Again, there's an awful lot of New York City in that skyline.
That's Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth standing over young Bruce's shoulder. We suppose this could be the moment when Bruce swears an oath to spend the rest of his days as an ass-kicking revenge machine. But speaking of ass-kicking, it sounds like Alfred is no slouch in this department, either. Alfred is described as "a tough-as-nails ex-marine from East London, Alfred has loyally served the Waynes and now, in the wake of their tragic deaths, he’s fiercely protective of the young Bruce."
Oswald Cobblepot's no good, very bad day continues with a dip in the icy gotham river. Maybe this is how he gets his Penguin nickname? It's clear that Jim Gordon, while certainly meant to be the incorruptible cop on the force, isn't above taking matters into his own hands when properly motivated.
That's Erin Richards as Barbara Keen, Jim Gordon's wife, described as "a sophisticated emergency room doctor and Gordon’s fiancée who stands by her future husband…which can be difficult in a world as corrupt as Gotham." DC Comics fans should also note that this could very well end up being Batgirl's mother.
Selina "Catwoman" Kyle (Camren Bicondova) apparently casing the grounds of Wayne Manor. Selina is a teenage orphan who is suspicious and wholly unpredictable. A street thief and skilled pickpocket, she’s dangerous when cornered." We dig the Darwyn Cooke goggles, too!
We've heard Jim Gordon tell Bruce, "Fear doesn't need conquering. Fear tells you where the edge is." Inspiring words from a man who has seen the horrors of war for a young man who just saw his parents gunned down before him. We can't imagine he tells him "now get yourself a pointy-eared cowl," but this could be Bruce figuring out where the edge of his fears are.
We just couldn't resist this shot of The Penguin holding an umbrella. Clearly, neither could they.
Here's our first look at Edward Nygma, the Riddler, played by Cory Michael Smith. This is a very pre-Riddler Nygma, described by Deadline as "a brilliant but socially awkward forensic scientist who’s eccentric and outgoing and desperate to be liked."
This is Ivy Pepper (Clare Foley) who will one day be known as Poison Ivy. "Ivy Pepper" is a new name for Poison Ivy, who comic book fans are more familiar with as Dr. Pamela Isley, or even Dr. Lillian Rose. Still, her name on this show seems a little on-the-nose, doesn't it?
Gotham clearly isn't shying away from its comic book roots, but hopefully it isn't going to forget to tell a good story in the process. The danger of prequels is that they coast on audience expectation and knowledge of coming events. If Gotham can avoid that, and make audiences care about these characters as they're presented on screen, rather than because of what we already know about them, it could turn out to be something rather special.
What bat-references did we miss? Let us know down below!