A look into the first episode of Gotham and how it could build even more into the Batman franchise.
*SPOILER ALERT: This post WILL contain spoilers for the first episode of Gotham.*
The episode starts like every other Batman origin story, Bruce’s parents get shot in an alleyway, there’s the whole pearl necklace/wallet thing and Bruce yells into the sky etc. Cinematically, this part was cliche and it failed to bring anything new. There was just the regular; slow motion pearls dropping to the ground and wide shot of Bruce with his parents dead at either side of him. This is definitely visible in Batman Begins and if you thought about, you could probably trace that scene back further. Nothing new. With such an iconic first scene,one could argue that is was expected to be the same scene we’d all seen before because there’s always the fear of ruining it.
The next part is where it got decidedly more interesting, instead of the jump straight back to Bruce that occurs in almost all Batman spinoffs, we got some real backstory content. What I was most pleased with, was Jim/Barbara Gordon. They are often overlooked in the screen versions of Batman because they act as mainly a periphery to the focus of Batman. We got a glimpse of their home life before they get married and have children and I hope to see more of this chemistry between them.
This gives us real characters with individual stories to tell. Character development is extremely important in shows such as this one, so one can only hope that this high level is maintained throughout the entire series. The juxtaposition of Jim Gordon and in their unruly partnership highlights the theme of conflict even within Gotham’s own police force. This theme is prevalent throughout and will undoubtedly be a focus point in all of the episodes. It was established particularly well, as it is noticeable but also the underlying elements such as Gordon’s other relationships (with Barbara, Fish etc) make for an neat package overall.
Something that would please a lot of Batman fans was the constant references to known Batman villains. Firstly, the casting is amazing. Though our protagonist Gordon is well cast and delivered the role exceedingly well, one has to nod casting of the villains. Oswald didn’t need constant references to ‘Penguin’; he was recognisable as the character already. The same goes for a few other iconic villains, one that comes to mind is Scarecrow, which may not be apparent to new fans but is particularly prevalent to the built in Batman audience.
Having a child named Ivy was a nice twist, whether or not she will become the Poison Ivy can be disputed. However, seeing as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character in The Dark Knight Rises, who was supposed to be a sidekick character to Batman, was called Robin as a nudge to the comic verse. Maybe the same tactic is being used with the character of Ivy, which should make for excellent intertextuality and overlapping or parallel narratives between characters.
Another character that we see at the start, who witnesses the murder of the Waynes and keeps cropping up in unexpected places, is a young nameless woman who possibly could be our first inkling of the character of Catwoman, due to her poise and cat-like qualities.
This episode was a terrific start to the show and if this level of writing and acting is preserved, Gotham will surely become an immense hit with audiences.
Missed the first episode? No problem! Watch it on Demand 5 now!