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Holy Rusted Metal Batman!

Fox Acquires Gotham, a Commissioner Gordon- Focused Drama With No Batman

A couple days ago I read an article theorizing that painted a picture of one of my wildest fantasies: that interest in Agents of SHIELD (recap coming up later) would convince a television network to take a chance on the Gotham Central concept. Gotham Central, written by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker, is essentially The Wire of Batman comics, or close enough. It’s a fascinating series and I recommend it to everyone, and I don’t understand how you can make a show about cops in Gotham without Batman, which is apparently what Fox has just decided to do.

From Deadline:

Fox has landed Gotham, from Warner Bros. TV and The Mentalist creator Bruno Heller, with a series commitment… It explores the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon and the villains who made Gotham City famous. In Gotham, Gordon is still a detective with the Gotham City Police Department and has yet to meet Batman, who will not be part of the series.

There have been a lot of comics about superheroes confronted with the everyday lives of the citizens they’re trying to save, but the difference in Gotham Central was that it didn’t care about confronting Batman with how much his work (not to mention the massive upheavals of DC universe Crisis events, or collateral damage from Gotham supervillains) interfered with the lives and work of ordinary beat cops and the detectives of the major crimes unit. The point was: Batman wasn’t going to change, and though he might rarely appear in the series, he wasn’t going to go away. The characters in Gotham Central have to navigate the effects of his existence in nearly everything they do, from hiring a permanent temp to turn on the Batsignal because doing so isa massive legal liability for a city employee, to deciding whether to swallow their pride and morals and threaten to turn a suspect over to a lawless vigilante to get them to talk.

Instead of exciting me, the pitch here for Gotham just confuses me. So it’s about Gordon combating Batman’s villains. But not any of the really well known ones, because folks like the Joker and Two-Face have origins that are entirely caught up in their interactions with Batman. Is this going to turn into a Smallville type situation where Gordon has been getting the occasional ominous playing card in the mail for seven seasons, and has a weirdly close friendship with an idiotic billionaire, but the show still isn’t allowed to actually dig into the stuff that’s made the setting so iconic? It’s also a bit unclear, for example, what Ra’s al Ghul, Catwoman, Bane, and any number of other Batman villains even represent without him as an opposing force. On the other hand… James Gordon and friends vs. Bane and Talia al Ghul were the most interesting parts of The Dark Knight Rises.

I’m all for some kind of Gotham-based procedural. Wait, let me rephrase that. A Gotham-set procedural cop/lawyers drama would be like air to me. But the primary reason I’m interested in it is for what it has the potential to say about superheroes, for the potential it has to build outward from the usual kind of superhero story and say things about the place of the ordinary person and their efforts in a world where a single person could lift the Costa Concordia out of the ocean in minutes. If you remove the superhero from that equation, you’ve just got James Gordon fighting corruption on one side, the mobs on the other, and maybe the Ventroloquist or Poison Ivy to boot. I’m not saying that’s a bad show, but I don’t think it’s one that lives up to the potential of the setting.

Oh, and you should probably update that list you’ve been keeping of things that Warner Bros. has developed for a full series production before Wonder Woman. Oh, and this show has one way to guarantee that I will watch every episode no matter what, and that is making Renee Montoya a lead castmember.

(via Deadline.)

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  •!/scarletsherlock scarletsherlock

    Only interested if Batwoman shows up. Otherwise, snore. Yet ANOTHER Batman-related adaptation before Wonder Woman, before any of the other however-many DC heroes there are? And it’s not even on CW so there can’t be Arrow crossovers. My interest is nil.

  • Seth Brodbeck

    One of two things would get me to check this out: Either Renee Montoya as a lead character, or Gary Oldman reprising his role as Gordon.

  •!/scarletsherlock scarletsherlock

    Okay, I would watch for those two things.

  • Anonymous

    I hope Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen show up.
    A police procedural is probably a smart move since I still don’t think superheroes and TV budgets work well together. Focusing on the “little guys” so to speak (like with Agents of SHIELD) means they don’t have to worry about low-budget costumes and all that. I think Arrow got it right by focusing on the elements you can get away with on a TV budget.

  • Lisa Liscoumb

    Eh, it’s Fox, which means they’ll insist on showing the episodes out of order and then cancel it after 10 episodes.

  • LifeLessons

    Whoa! Well if Rucka wrote it, I gotta read it. And I hope he writes for the TV show. Please!

  • Erin Treat

    I share your confusion Susana. And yeah Renee Montoya is a must if they want me to be interested. Although thinking about it now, I do worry a bit about trusting a character as important as her to Fox.

  • Laura Truxillo

    It’s the sort of thing that I was waiting for two years ago, but right now all I can muster is a tired, “Huh. Well. It might be nice if it isn’t horrible.” “Horrible” herein meaning a slap in the face to old fans, leaning hard on the grim and light on the heart.

    Seems kind of funny that they announce this right after SHIELD makes its debut. A show about the government-sanctioned normal folks who clean up after superheroes, that references established heroes but doesn’t show them? Hmm….

  • light

    my Aunty Kennedy got a real nice Fiat by working online at home. his comment is here


  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t mind if it’s a show that starts as a normal police procedural and then gets progressively weirder. Like the first season they’re circling around the “urban legend” of Batman as they crooks act all afraid and are trying to come up with more preposterously clever ways to not get caught. They could start to organize around some weirdo like the Penguin, who’s odd but not so far out of the realm of possibility. Then it all goes downhill crazy from there. You would HAVE to introduce Batman at some point, but you could put it off for a few seasons, and you could have that annoying Wayne bro (sorry, it’s Warner, it will have bros) who keeps hanging around trying to date cops. It would be more about the city reacting to the creation of Batman.

    Of course that’s not what’s going to happen. I’m just thinking out loud. Don’t mind me.

  • Elias Algorithm

    Which sort of puts their upcoming Flash spinoff on shakey ground.

  • Anonymous

    Random unrelated question: is the Powers TV show still in Development Hell?

    I like MarTeaNi’s idea of a “normal” police procedural getting progressively weirder, but I’m afraid we’re going to wind up with a more generic cops-and-lawyers show that will occasionally drop hints of Other Things without it really going anywhere.

    From a more optimistic perspective this could be a chance to delve into the oodles and gobs of lesser-known Bat-villains and really broaden the field in a couple of areas. I guess time will tell.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Personally I would have gotten tired of it quick if it had featured Batman from the start. I mean, sure a comic about needing to hire a temp to keep the bat signal going is a good read but as a tv show? It would not even work as a B plot for an episode.

    For a show that doesn’t revolve around Batman, having Batman in it would remove alot of the tension involved since it is made crystal clear from the start that your basically watching a show about useless mooks while the interesting stuff is happening to some other guy who you don’t even get to see. A plot device who can swoop in and just magically solve any tough spot the ‘protagonists’ have gotten themselves in. They would literally be having a specter hovering over the show that makes you question why you should care about these characters in the slightest when you have THE BATMAN who you could be watching instead. (Who makes for a better animated hero than a live action one unless you take the Adam West approach)

    Having a show without Batman means that the writers will have to tell a story about Gothams police department struggling to deal with the problems that Batman usually solves overnight. Sure Batman can take down the likes of Bane and the Red Hood on his own but could Gothams police force, who have in the comics been portrayed as next to useless (Unable to take down a single Batvillian but on more than one occasion being shown capable of easily taking down the batfamily if they ever wanted to) Would have alot more uncertainty on their part whether it could be done, creating some fun tension.

    Plus, if they can go two or three seasons establishing their characters and the status quo then they could turn around and introduce Batman further down the road in the series, show already established characters trying to contend with the sudden emergence of a mysterious vigilante who could be just another criminal trying to take down the competition. A series with characters you got the chance to like and care about on their own merits without Batman threatening to upstage them could make for some great character development.

    Further, it should be mentioned that they are taking a bit of a risk with this. They already had Birds of Prey which featured heroes trying to help a Gotham that lost its batman because having some guy with every gadget ever swooping in to save the day would make the birds of prey look kinda lame…This concept however did not work out for DC but given the whole ‘we must not take risks~!’ attitude and the fact that their giving the go ahead on this Gotham thing before Shield even had the chance to air a second episode, it can be assumed that they know what they are confident of the material their working with.

    Though I will say, it would be nice if they bleeped comic continuity and had young Gordon working with Renee Montoya and Harveey Bullock. As Arrow has proven, a strong supporting cast is far more important than keeping to comic continuity.

  • DarthBetty

    I don’t even. There are so many different timeline concepts in the batman universe alone. Maybe they will have Selina Kyle before cat woman? That is a maybe positive. I feel like they could place her in an antagonist role.

    Also, I feel kinda bad for saying this but they will probably start Gordon out as young as possible and I really don’t want to deal with he and Barbara’s assured overdramatic relationship issues that Fox will use. Which I mean to say I guess is I hope they will not play her too negatively.

  • Anonymous

    According to a few news sites a Wonder Woman revival is also being considered.

  • Anonymous

    Sure, but the thing about Gotham Central was that even if Batman didn’t show up, the stories focused often around the repercussions of his off-screen actions. Without that, In this case, you basically have just another cop show, that happens to have some familiar names stuck on the cast and locations.

    In that sense, it’d be like taking Marvel’s old “Damage Control” comic and taking the superheroes out of it. Without the epic massively destructive superhero battles they’re around to clean up after, you have… basically a construction company, without any of what made the stories so fun.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, no! There was an update on just that exact topic in the latest issue of Powers.

    The original pilot apparently fell flat, but evidently FX is behind the show enough that they went out and found a new scriptwriter, then had him work with Bendis to retool the show. According to the letters column in this week’s Powers, the new script is good, and he says he hopes there will be News released online before the next issue of Powers hits the stands.