Fox re-entered the comic book show arena with Gotham, a look at the pre-Batman Gotham City. The show is loosely centered around Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as the young detective learning the inner-workings of the crime-infested city while dealing with the established mobsters and on-the-rise crime lords that will come to torment Batman and all of Gotham.
Fox gave the show a full season order in October so we’re guaranteed at least 22 episodes.
But for its early success, the show isn’t exactly ringing true for longtime Batman fans, many of whom think Gotham could attain must-see status as opposed to the mindset of “well, since it’s on I’ll watch it.”
In one of the show’s early high points, young Bruce Wayne asked Gordon could Gotham be saved and while the show isn’t in danger of getting cancelled, here’s five ways Gotham could be vastly improved.
- Get away from the “crime of the week” format
One of the frequent complaints of the show so far has been the ridiculous ease in which Gordon and his partner, Bullock, get tasked a crime and wrap it up nice and tidy before the end credits. Gotham shouldn’t be such an easy place to find the case-cracking clue or talk to the one perfect witness. Letting Gordon and Bullock have to work harder to bring down crooks would make the audience feel like they put in actual work to solve the case as opposed to just getting lucky.
- Remember that Bruce isn’t Batman … yet
Eventually Bruce Wayne is going to become Batman, but the show is missing a great opportunity to show another side of Bruce Wayne/Batman by just making him act like a pint-sized version of the Caped Crusader. Bruce is already getting snappy with Alfred and working obsessively to solve his parent’s murder. Granted, Bruce probably shouldn’t be vegging out on PlayStation, but he’s a kid and there’s a few questions that would be fun to explore: Bruce can only be so smart from a grade school education. Is he teaching himself? Does he have a tutor? Does he plan to go to college? Did Bruce have any childhood friends (Tommy Elliot who would become Batman’s nemesis, Hush, comes to mind) and where are they while he’s grieving? Does Bruce enjoy anything anymore? Can anything make him laugh and how does he learn to play the role of obnoxious billionaire?
- Stop trying to shoehorn Selina in every episode
Selina Kyle has a much darker path in becoming Batman’s ally/rival Catwoman. In the comics, she originally fended for herself as a prostitute, but that origin got softened to simply being an orphan surviving as a thief. The big problem with Selina though is that’s it in terms of what’s interesting about her pre-Catwoman days. She’s a thief and that doesn’t change much from 10 years old until Batman comes around and Selina is inspired to adopt her own costumed identity. But seemingly just to remind us she’s still there, we get weekly glimpses of Selina just hanging around and randomly stealing something with no other contribution to an episode. Either do something to flesh her character out more or give Catgirl a rest until the season finale.
4. Bring in The Court of Owls
Introduced in Scott Snyder’s phenomenal run, the court is a secret society that has ruled Gotham for centuries. To add on to the scare factor, group members conceal their identity with face-obscuring owl masks. They are comprised of some of Gotham’s elite families, who kidnap child circus performers and brainwash them into becoming their assassin enforcers, The Talons. The Court prefers to use one Talon at a time, which is just as well as they’re nearly invulnerable save being put in suspended animation when exposed to extreme cold. Best of all, the Court is a Batman enemy that Gordon can legitimately encounter now without waiting on Batman to arrive.
- Go the “Lost” route and play around with flash-forwards
One of the ingenious ways the “Lost” show-runners used to keep the weekly drama fresh was flipping the standard flashback formula with flash-forwards allowing viewers to see the characters in another light. While “Gotham’s” initial premise is limited to a pre-Batman era of Gotham, there’s no reason the show can’t occasionally shift to Gotham’s future where The Penguin, The Riddler, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, etc. are running loose. And while we’re at it, let’s see if Gary Oldman wouldn’t mind reprising his role as Commissioner Gordon like his “Batman Begins” co-star Liam Neeson. Even if it was for a handful of issues, how much fun would watching Commissioner Gordon fighting crime in Gotham be? And there’s the added bonus of being able to have crime-fighting vigilantes like Nightwing, The Huntress, The Question and Batgirl guest star. After all, what’s the point of having a show based in Gotham City without seeing anyone in costume?