Over the years DC have been pretty successful with TV shows based on its flagship characters. Superman has enjoyed numerous incarnations such as Lois and Clark as well as CW’s Smallville. CW also has Arrow, based on the adventures of the titular Green Arrow. Batman has had a few himself, mainly animated, including the bloody amazing Batman: The Animated Series. Now Fox are planning to revisit Gotham City with a series, currently titled Gotham, following the early years of Gotham Central’s finest, James Gordon. Gotham will be headed up by The Mentalist creator Bruno Heller who has signed on for a series commitment.
Deadline got the scoop and reported that there was quite a furious bidding war that ended with Fox snatching the rights away from CW. This is pretty shocking and, disappointingly, it means no chance of an Arrow crossover, which has begun building quite a cast of characters from the DC universe.
Gotham will also not feature Batman. Instead, it will explore the early days of Commissioner James Gordon’s career as a detective with Gotham City PD. At this point in the show’s timeline Bruce Wayne has yet to don a cowl (This does change continuity slightly as immediately prior to Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, Gordon is still a cop in Chicago). The absence of the Dark Knight doesn’t mean other familiar faces are off the table; Fox have said that Gotham will feature “the villains who made Gotham City famous“.
As with most TV shows based on DC characters, I expect there will be a few liberties taken with what we consider canon. It’s an interesting point that Gotham will feature villains we know and recognize considering that in the comic universe most surface after the emergence of Batman – in fact, Batman is often blamed for their creation.
Here is another interesting question: Should either Arrow or Gotham wish to feature Batman or Bruce Wayne, who holds the rights? Can both shows feature the character much like what Marvel and Fox intend to do with Quicksilver Avengers 2 and X-Men; Days of Future Past?
DC have already had success with exploring the borders of the Batman universe in the acclaimed Gotham Central comic series by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka. Gotham Central focuses on detectives Renee Montoya and Crispin Allen as they tackle cases across Gotham City and only briefly feature Batman. This would have been a great starting point for the TV series but perhaps Warner Bros. felt this was a little too close to Marvel’s own Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Introduced in 1939, Gordon was featured in the very first Batman comic and was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Commissioner Gordon has appeared in pretty much every Batman incarnation, most memorably and effectively in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, where he was played by Gary Oldman.
With Disney/Marvel having success expanding the Avengers universe with Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. it will be interesting to see if Warner Bros. can do the same, with Gotham. What are your thoughts?