A Beginner's Guide To Gotham
Everything you need to know about Channel 5's super new Batman prequel series.
This autumn, we'll witness the creation of a legend as hotly anticipated new TV show Gotham comes to Channel 5.
It's unlikely that The Dark Knight has escaped your notice - from the comic book icon of old to the camp 60s series, Tim Burton's dark movies or Christopher Nolan's epic trilogy, Batman's been around for a while. But how much do you really know about the Caped Crusader and the cesspit of a city he protects?
Whether you're afraid of the big black bat, or simply not a fan of a man in tights, here's everything you need to know before Gotham hits screens...
The series will serve as a prequel to the Batman stories we know and love, revealing a new chapter in Gotham's history as war hero turned Detective Jim Gordon rises through the ranks, negotiating corruption, criminals, and nurturing the city's future saviour - the newly orphaned Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz).
Of course, it's not going to be that easy for dear old Jim. Along with Batman's beginnings, we'll witness the creation of his arch enemies - Penguin, The Riddler, Catwoman, Poison Ivy and The Joker.
"The murder of the Waynes is the metaphorical break point that plunges Gotham along a downward spiral that will ultimately manifest in people putting on costumes and going out and seeking vengeance or justice," explains the show's star, Ben McKenzie (better known as Ryan off of The O.C).
But while Gotham gets a-sewing, Jim's got a job to do - and the city's premiere gangster Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) isn't exactly welcoming him to the city with open arms.
With over 75 years of comic book history to plunder, Gotham will be a veritable who's who of DC's best villains.
Already announced are Oswald Cobblepot / The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), Edward Nygma / the future Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) and a teenaged Selina Kyle / the future Catwoman (Camren Bicondova) all of whom will be given a bigger backstory.
We can also expect to see Bruce Wayne's greatest future foe, the Joker, at some point. Though whoever takes on the role will inevitably have to suffer comparisons to two superlative past performances from Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. Showrunner Bruno Heller has promised that the character will be brought in "with great care and a lot of thought".
What we won't see, however, is young Bruce clad in a cape. Sorry Batfans. Though Heller insists Mazouz is "the best actor ever to play the part", the general consensus is that enough screen time has been given to The Bat. Young Wayne will have a part to play, though. "He is a genuine prodigy of an actor, as you will see on screen," Heller told Entertainment Weekly. "Before David was cast, I was ambivalent about how much we would use Bruce Wayne in the series. What do you do with a 12-year-old kid? [But] like I say, he's off-the-charts talented."
The kid will be flanked by his ever-present and loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth, played by Sean Pertwee sporting a snazzy suit. Whether he'll channel Michael Caine's polite old gent from the Nolan films remains to be seen.
But Gotham is very much Gordon's show. Partnered with legendary morally ambiguous copper Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), he'll fight to climb out of the muck and eventually rise to become the city's Police Commissioner - though there'll no doubt be many obstacles along the way.
The better question would be why not? The popularity of comic book characters is at an all time high, meaning there's cashing in happening all over the shop.
Gotham follows the recent success of long running Superman prequel Smallville, the imaginatively titled Green Arrow show, Arrow, its subsequent spin-off The Flash, Marvel's Avengers spin-off, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Walking Dead. Basically, there's a lot of money to be made here.
But what's refreshing is the dark tone Gotham is taking. Much like the books it's based on, the show will be adult and gritty with a noirish quality that befits a classic, albeit fantastical, detective story. Despite its ostensibly childish origins, it's unlikely Gotham will be suitable for kids.
While Gotham will air on FOX in the states, Channel 5 will be its home on this side of the pond.
Premiering in the US on 22 September, 2014, the series will air in the UK on Channel 5 and Demand 5 this autumn.
Still Need Convincing?
Check out the exclusive five minute preview on Monday 18 August at 9pm on Channel 5 to get a glimpse at what's to come. For now, though, the trailer will have to do.
While the world of comic books could easily bamboozle a Batman beginner, there are several titles that should be on any budding geek's reading list:
- Batman: Year One by Frank Miller
As the title suggests, Miller's classic tells the origin story of both Batman and Lieutenant James Gordon. It's the book that Batman Begins was based on, and provides much material for Gotham, too.
- Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
This twisted 1988 tale sees Gordon kidnapped and tortured by the Joker. It's testament to the character's strength and integrity that he escapes with sanity and ethics intact.
- No Man’s Land
This long running arc provided a lot of inspiration for Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. With Batman absent, Gordon is left to take care of Gotham by himself, leading him to an uneasy partnership with Two-Face and a tense confrontation with the Joker.