Now that the first trailer for Fox’s upcoming Gotham television series has dropped, the hype is moving up to the next level. So far it’s looking pretty good, though only time will tell if the marketing is accurate to the product. And considering how much the show is delving into previously untouched Batman lore, there are plenty of unanswered questions regarding exactly what the show will be bringing us. Now, Gotham showrunner Bruno Heller (Rome) has seen fit to put some answers to a few of those questions. Scroll on for all the juicy details.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Heller had a few things to say about the tone of the new series:
The first thing was starting with Jim Gordon, who is the most human and real and normal person in the DC pantheon. What would the city of Gotham look like to a young rookie cop coming into this world? And that’s where we calibrated. This is a world that’s going to become that familiar world of Batman, but it’s not there yet. It’s an embryo. A lot of the work was reverse engineering the story to look at what these characters were like when younger. Penguin, for instance, is not a powerful gang leader, he’s a gofer for a gangster. It’s about giving the world room to grow, but at the same time giving the fun and pleasure and drama of that heightened world. One of the great things about the Batman world is [the characters] have no super powers. Nobody flies or leaps over buildings. You start with psychology and that’s where we build from.
About the format of the series and whether they’ve taken a linear or procedural approach to it:
There’s a procedural framework for it, but the world of Gotham is too big and operatic and complex to do it any other way but serialized.
About what characters we should expect to see during the first season:
Obviously, the Penguin, Riddler, young Catwoman, Alfred. Possibly Harvey Dent. Poison Ivy. Um … and then there will be others, but I hate to — I’m so used to doing a police procedural, so I’m used to telling, “Next week he’s going to go there.” With this, it’s very much storytelling. So I would be remiss to tell you who will show up when. I will say we’re not going to skimp on giving people the characters they want and expect from Gotham. But when and how they’re going to show up is half the fun. Penguin is one of those guys that, as soon as you see him, you go, “Oh, that’s the Penguin.” It would be hard to disguise him as somebody else.
Will the Joker be there, you may be asking? It looks like he will:
He’s the crown jewel of the Batman villains. He will be brought in with great care and a lot of thought.
Heller also went into a little detail regarding the place of the show in the wake of Nolan’s trilogy:
…I would say in terms of what [director and executive producer Danny Cannon and director of photography David Stockton] are doing — visually — Gotham will surpass the Batman movies. The movies are a very rigorous, kind of Germanic take on that world. They’re visually stunning, but not particularly visually pleasurable. I would say this is much more on the street level of Gotham. There’s more people, it’s a more colorful place, it’s a more vivid place, it’s more crowded. The inspiration for me and Danny was New York in the ’70s, because we both remember that as a seminal moment, coming to the city for the first time. This is very much that kind of Gotham — intensely visual and three-dimensional and layered and gritty and dirty and sexy and dangerous. From that point of view — and it’s easy for me to say, I just have to write the thing, Danny and David have to visualize it — but I think you’ll see it’s fabulous.
And addressed the question of whether Gotham might suffer from the same birth pangs that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did:
Not to comment on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but [the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents] are in the same temporal space as their superheroes. So while watching it, I imagine you feel, well, it’s kind of mean not to show us Thor. If Thor is there in the next room, or the next town, why not come by and see us? For Gotham, if we could bring Batman in to say hello, he’d say hello. It’s not that the celebrities are in the VIP lounge while you’re out front wondering where they are. In this case, the heroes aren’t “born” yet. They’re kids. I am cognizant of that as an issue. But look: Most stories that people tell don’t have Batman in them. You’ve just got to make the story you tell as compelling as it can be.
As for how they’re going to deal with the fact that most of the characters can’t be killed off during the show due to their place in the overall Batman canon:
…there’s lots of other people in the world, and one of the conceits of the show is, where did they get all their ideas? There’s precursors to that for the villains and the heroes. They got inspiration from other people, and it’s about how they got to that point in the world. It’s invigorating and expansive how many stories you can tell once you get away from the gravity of Batman. What happens with superheroes is they suck all the air out of the room. You can’t play a scene between two people when there’s a guy in a cape and a mask in the corner of the room. As far as the history goes, people don’t know the ins and outs of it. Even in the well-known stories, there are secrets and backstories that people are not aware of. We also have the pre-iconic villains, like Fish Mooney, played by Jada Pinkett Smith, and those characters that people won’t have seen before.
About some of the changes that have been made to the character of Alfred:
That was part of the story that I had to reverse engineer. What kind of man would allow their teenage charge to turn into Batman? Obviously, someone with very original parenting notions. So yeah, he’s both a father figure and a dangerous father figure. He’s a tough character, and Sean Pertwee plays Alfred with gravity and humor. We’re lucky to have him.
And, naturally, all about Bruce Wayne’s place in the series, given that his is the comic book that inspired all this:
I’m hoping to use him as much as his mum will allow us to, and in the kind of stories you’d imagine. It’s not going to be young Bruce Wayne going out and saving the day, because that’s not what kids do. It’s about the strange education of this young man. He has a good idea of where he’s going early on. But it’s about the growth of this young man.
I know a lot of people are already giving Gotham the middle finger and plenty more are sitting on the fence until they see more, but I’m already in love with what Heller seems to have put together. Avoiding the procedural format is about the best thing they could have done. I don’t care how popular procedural shows are, I would have tuned out come episode 2 if they went with yet another crime-solving pile of shit filled with ‘quirky but loveable’ characters and half-assed plotlines.
I’m also eager to see the youthful incarnations of all my favorite Batman characters, whether they happen to wear the names we know them for or otherwise. It’s like one giant origin story. Better yet, it’s the perfect playground for a set of talented writers. They won’t have to worry too much about screwing the timeline and pissing all over canon and, as long as they’re careful, Gotham could easily enter into the Batman universe with very few ripples.
What say the Nerd Readers? Is this on your top to-watch list? Or are you a nerd of little faith when it comes to mixing Fox television with Batman?