When the Fox TV series Gotham was launched, it was pitched as the Detective James Gordon’s pre-Batman era chronicles in the coldest, darkest, and most corrupt city in America. It began with the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents – Martha and Thomas, and Gordon was assigned to investigate them. Gordon was designed to be the central character of the show. That, he is. But, as it always happens with anything Gotham, the story arc of Bruce’s childhood was simply irresistible to the writers of the show. One thing led to another and now, we have a show that hopes to achieve something that none of the movies, animated shows, video games, and other media on Batman could ever do – provide an insight into how Bruce Wayne became the Dark Knight mentally and physically. And that alone is all the reason you need to watch this show.
Witness Bruce’s Transformation Into the Bat
Most movies and other media on Batman do not do justice to the character development of Batman. They almost always start with the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne right in front of Bruce in his childhood. Then the scene is cut to his teen years, when he begins to train himself in various forms of martial arts, scientific fields, and so on. The final phase is this coldblooded “Bat” character that is insomniac, beats criminals to pulp with his fists, and speaks gibberish with a Martian accent. Oh, and he is a control freak (at least according to Damian, his son. Sorry, if you didn’t know he had a son). While we can see how he beefed up his biceps during all this, we hardly get to see what went inside his head the entire time. This is the very gap that Gotham is trying to fill up, and it is doing a wonderful job at the moment.
While Gordon was investigating into the murder of Thomas and Martha, Bruce was also carrying out his own investigation. Bruce grew out of his comfort zone of crying over his parents’ death, and eventually gravitated towards the world’s greatest detective that he is destined to be. The showrunners are doing everything they can to help the non-comic readers understand the rationale and motivations behind every aspect of the Batman’s personality.
The Great Alfred
With the death of his parents, Bruce could have easily ended up as a rich a**hole kid, or a clueless teenager. Except he did not. And, the credit goes to his guardian, Alfred. We all know that Alfred is more than just a butler. He is the closest thing Bruce had to a father, growing up. In Gotham, we can see that Alfred was more than a model father figure. He nurtured, protected, and helped Bruce in every way he can. Alfred helped him make sense of the tragedy of his parents’ death. As he grew older, and faced bullying in school, Alfred was there to not only console him, but also to teach him how to defend himself. This act of teaching him to stand his ground and confront his bully is what sowed the first seeds in Bruce to take the onus of cleaning the crime and slime plaguing Gotham by himself. In a way, it was Alfred that made Batman out of Bruce. This is the very heartwarming and profound narration that Batman’s story always needed.
The Birth of the Scum
Every good hero story needs an equally, if not better, strong villain story. If you want to make sense out of Batman’s existence, then you have to understand the scum and darkness that lurked in Gotham’s dark alleys. Gotham does a good job of touching upon the origin stories of some of the most popular villains in the Batman’s universe. As the show progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that a single young honest detective, is so ill-equipped in the city of the corrupt to stop the crime that runs rampant in the city. Everyone from the top-down – the mayor, commissioner, other police officers, and so on – are corrupt. One good policeman, no matter how honest and dedicated, is too small, too under-resourced to make a difference. Perhaps, his unyielding spirit inspired the young Bruce to never give up, even when the odds are against him. While Gotham’s villains are nowhere in the same league as Nolan’s, and are easily forgettable, they do a decent job of convincing the viewers that there is no hope for the city. If the city has to endure, then the dawn of Batman was its only hope, and completely inevitable. To check out Gotham, you must have a TV plan from XFINITY.