Ever since Christopher Nolan directed the first reboot of the Batman movies, there has been an increasingly depressing and dismal tone to Batman. While this is not far removed from much of the original source material and most of the televisions shows, with the exception of the 60’s Adam West Batman or some of the cartoon iterations of Batman within the last decade, it still took audiences by surprise as we were previously used to a more comedic tone in the Batman movies; although the change was incredibly captivating. In my opinion, the Gotham TV series, not only continues with the same tone, but takes things a step further by presenting a darker and more disturbing prequel to an already dark and disturbing storyline. However, I can’t help but wonder if it’s darker than the Dark Knight movies. I’ll let you decide, but consider these points.
The Lonely Good Guy
Since Gotham is a prequel to the Batman storyline, it is a foregone conclusion that the “hero” of the series will not be Bruce Wayne/Batman. Instead, this show focuses on James Gordon; specifically his days as a young detective prior to becoming the famed Commissioner of the Gotham Police Department. We not only get to learn more about Gordon as a character, but also witness him walk a lonely path as he fights to clean up the streets of Gotham. The show has only aired two episodes thus far, but in those two episodes, it has been established that Gordon is singular in his quest to diminish the criminal element on the streets of Gotham. I don’t know how long they expect to play this particular card, but I can easily see this plot line getting very old if some other “good guy is not introduced relatively soon or a more powerful ally is not revealed. He is clearly outnumbered and unless he gets smarter, he’ll lose his crusade for justice. Even in the Dark Knight movies, Batman had a team of allies that aided him in his quest for justice, albeit deranged tactics at times. No one can do it alone; especially without any gadgets or superpowers.
Corruption is the Name of the Game
Aside from good guy Gordon, just about every adult on Gotham is corrupt. With the notorious Falcone at the top of the corruption pyramid, everybody including the Gotham Police Department and even the Mayor seems to be under his thumb. As a result, with any organized criminal element, the apparent second in command, a newly created character called Fish Mooney, wants to take out Falcone and assume the helm herself, despite her supposed affection for him as he is like a father to her.
Mooney has her hands full with her club, which is obviously a front for her criminal activity as well as ensuring that the police department stays in line, as per her boss. Poor young Gordon had no idea what he was walking into upon joining the Gotham Police Department, especially when he was teamed up with one of the dirtiest detectives on the force, Harvey Bullock.
In the Dark Knight series, corruption clouds the city of Gotham as well, however, it isn’t just Falcone that Batman has to worry about, it’s a litany of crazies including the Joker, Poison Ivy, Penguin, etc, which makes for a sleepless criminal element in the city of Gotham.
No Wonder the Kids Aren’t Alright
Let’s recap what’s going on with the kids: Poison Ivy witnessed her dad’s death, young Bruce Wayne saw his parents’ murdered right in front of him, as did Cat. Cat has also witnessed other murders including a fellow homeless person, and that was all in the first two episodes. Obviously, we can anticipate a lot more murders and violence throughout the remainder of the season, and the show’s run for that matter, as the writers have a lot more ahead of them in an effort to develop the villains we all know from the children we have seen thus far. It is certainly quite evident that with a start like the one they’ve all had thus far, no wonder they turned into a bunch of crazies, with an axe to grind; starting with Bruce Wayne.
Although Gotham is a TV show, make no mistake that this show is not for the fans of the 60s hokey Batman. This series is very much in the same vein, or dare I say more of a prequel to, the Dark Knight movies, which makes it pretty dark, but I wouldn’t say it’s darker. Even with all things being considered, the Gotham series still has a long way to go to top the Dark Knight, and given the way the first two episodes have gone, that says a lot.