If Batman isn’t going to show up in Fox’s upcoming fall series Gotham, and if the show largely deals with the origins of future Police Commissioner James Gordon, well then, shouldn’t the show more aptly be titled Gordon? Such weighty questions about how Gotham will expand on the Batman universe, not to mention the show’s potential resonance with fans, were at the heart of the series panel at Sunday’s TCAs. One issue that was raised was how Gotham would create tension, especially if it doesn’t plan to kill off such legendary villains such as The Riddler and The Penguin, which would mess with Batman mythology.
Gotham executive producer Bruno Heller sarcastically responded, “It’s a sad thing when you can’t bring tension by killing people. One of the show’s great advantages with this world is that people know where it’s going, there are people who are invested in the story.”
Ben McKenzie, who plays Gordon, equated Gotham to “Greek tragedy. The fate comes in the first act. The series is about the interesting journey and how the city falls into disrepair and total anarchy.”
As for whether Gotham is more cop story than superhero, Heller said, “This is noir. The structure that exists around James Gordon is so daunting and challenging that no single man can defeat it. The notion is that our hero is doomed. Gotham is as much about the hope and struggle that everyday people are engaged in. It’s not about superheroes.”
The EP also added, “There will be victories along the way. (In creating this show), we talked about New York City in the 1970s. It’s a time when that city was falling apart with decadence and decay. It was both sexy and scary. There’s something about a city as it falls apart that you’re compelled to watch.”
While Gotham features early incarnations of the Penguin (as a thuggish sidekick to Jada Pinkett Smith‘s corrupt nightclub owner Fish Mooney) and The Riddler (as a nebbishy police forensics analyst), Heller said that there will be a “slow roll out” of villains. In creating the look of Gotham, EP Danny Cannon pulled from ’70s movies as well as iconic rock n’ roll photography of Iggy Pop, Blondie and The Bowery in New York. “It was the first pilot I worked on that I treated like a movie,” said Cannon.
Heller also consulted DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns about the canonical myth of Batman. “They’ve given us a lot of leeway and freedom,” said Heller. Whether Cannon and Heller will wind up changing any of the Batman origins that fanboys are acquainted with, the latter responded “We don’t break from the iron truths of the Batman story. However, if there are contradictions in the story, that’s when you know you’ve lived up to a genuine myth.” Gotham premieres on Fox on Monday, Sept. 22 at 8 PM. Warner Bros. TV produces.