Life before Batman in ‘Gotham’

ARTS_GothemNitty-gritty comic book drama shows promise

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer

The world of Batman features corrupt politicians and police, twisted senses of justice and morality, and totally crazy supervillains. Widely known for its dark content and neo-noir atmosphere, Batman’s hometown of Gotham City has always been part of what makes the world appealing. Although the concept of a show set in Batman’s city without any Batman sounds farfetched, Gotham proves it might just be fantastic after all.

Right from the pilot, the show is obvious with its depiction of popular Batman villains, including a young Catwoman (Camren Bicondova) who pickpockets citizens with cat-like reflexes before witnessing one of the most famous comic book scenes of all time: the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. Young Bruce (David Mazouz) and his parents exit a theatre only to be held up by a mugger, who murders Bruce’s parents in front of him and sets the stage for the young man to grow up and become the Caped Crusader.

Gotham is not a story of how Batman came to be; it is a story about a twisted city full of corruption from all sides that follows a young Jim Gordon as a rookie cop in the Gotham Police Department, years before he becomes police commissioner and works with Batman. Viewers will recognize Jim portrayed by Ben McKenzie, better known as Ryan on The O.C. Jim has a much more moral sense of the law than his corrupt partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) as he seeks to solve the murder of Gotham’s wealthiest citizens, Bruce’s parents.

Things become darker and more dangerous for the cops as they investigate into the depths of Gotham’s organized crime world where they become intertwined and even on the side of the mobsters that control Gotham City. Among the criminals are femme fatale Fish Mooney (Jada-Pinkett Smith) and young mobster Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), who is nicknamed Penguin by the other thugs because of his appearance.

It’s hard to see what direction the show will take in the future, although it’s clear that more Batman villains will be set up in future episodes—probably Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, and the Joker to name a few. The many villains featured are definitely not subtle, such as a young girl named Ivy who is obsessed with plants and is clearly the future Poison Ivy.

This gritty, alternative police procedural has a lot of potential. All of the actors in Gotham do an excellent job at portraying their respective characters. McKenzie shows his ability to play in-depth emotion as he portrays Jim struggling to be lawful and yet work within the violence and corruption presented to him. Logue as Bullock steals the show with his ruthlessness and cynicism. These two make an excellent tag team as cops with opposing personalities without seeming cliché.

The show also has great cinematography in a timeless film-noir style and excellent visuals. In many ways, it feels like watching a movie.

Whether you’re a Batman fan who’s read every issue of the comics or if you’re totally new to the franchise, Gotham will leave you intrigued for more every Monday night.