Initially, we were excited to see a live-action Gotham show that plunged into the backstory of a young Jim Gordon the way so many classic Batman storylines have done in the comics. One that profiled the once great city before it descended into a horrific cavalcade of carnival freaks and madmen, where regular police work wasn’t enough to keep the new breed of super-criminals at bay. Really, a Gotham series works on paper as an intriguing police procedural with just a smidgen of comic book camp… but actually seeing the show in action gives us pause. While there’s a lot to love in the first trailer for Gotham — the city itself looks great, like a mix of modern buildings and rusted-out architecture that’s seen better days — there’s also a lot that has us skeptical. Namely, the focus on all of the kid villains.
It makes sense for Gotham to tell a long-form origin story of Jim Gordon, a career policeman at the very start of his duties at the detective desk, but do we need to see child versions of all of Batman’s foes. It seems like the show just couldn’t resist crowbarring in Batman and his rogue’s gallery where they really don’t belong, as if the audience wouldn’t be interested in the show otherwise. Here, we’re getting, ridiculous looking versions of The Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy, not to mention Bruce Wayne himself. Frankly, it just looks silly.
Gotham‘s version of Selina Kyle looks to be about 13, and she’s already traipsing between buildings, a budding master thief. Did she just come back from a heist called “The Great Juice-Box Caper?” Of course the one shot of Poison Ivy in the trailer shows a disheveled girl watering plants… and obviously we have to show the future Penguin touting an umbrella. It all seems so contrived, so painfully on the nose, like the show just can’t stop winking at us to see if you got all the hints. What’s next? Is the Joker going to show up as a unhinged 10-year-old who devotedly follows the Insane Clown Posse?
Obviously, a two-minute trailer is a very poor indication of how Gotham will eventually take form this fall, but it looks like the show might be trying too hard to inter-connect all of these child versions of the villains in a way that might seriously strain our ability to suspend disbelief. We’re not saying Gotham shouldn’t feature popular characters from the comics, to weave its own history out of our favorite characters, but ridiculous, grade school versions of the characters isn’t the way to do it.